It’s no secret now that the Tories want to destroy the arts in Britain, penalise their practitioners and discourage those who would dare to dream of studying them, irrespective of the minimal financial reward. And the Tories are doing this either through ignorance, a simple failure to understand that the arts have a value beyond the monetary or as a deliberate attempt to silence people who can see through the all-pervading language of lies that is thieves’ cant of the current Conservative party and its client media. Maybe looking for a motive is to dignify the current Conservative crop with an intellectual coherence they don’t deserve. Still, there’s no doubt that their actions are devastatingly affecting cultural life in this country.
The latest manifestation is the news that the Tories plan to scrap arts subjects from the English Baccalaureate, a key performance measure for schools. The Baccalaureate is already a deeply flawed system that shoehorns children into academic subjects whether suited to them or not and leaves no room for vocational or creative pursuits. But by removing arts subjects from the Baccalaureate altogether, the Tories are making it clear that they believe the only “legitimate” form of education leads directly to employment – preferably in a low-paid, precarious sector where workers can be easily exploited.
This is just one small part of a wider war on the arts being waged by the Tories. Since they came to power in 2010, they have slashed funding for the arts, libraries and museums by 40%. They have abolished Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisation funding, which supported hundreds of smaller arts organisations across the country. And they have removed vital support for touring theatre companies, resulting in many of them going out of business.
The Tories claim that these cuts are necessary to reduce the deficit. Still, the truth is that they are ideological – a way of signalling their contempt for anything that isn’t “productive” or doesn’t make a profit. After all, this is the same government that has been happy to spend billions on vanity projects like HS2 and the garden bridge while cutting disability benefits and forcing working people into poverty.
The effect of all this is devastating. Arts organisations are being forced to close, artists are losing their livelihoods, and vital cultural spaces are being lost. But perhaps even more damaging is the message that the Tories are sending out: that the arts don’t matter, that they’re a luxury we can’t afford, that they’re not worth fighting for.
This is why it’s so important that we resist the Tories’ culture war. We must stand up for the arts and fight for their place in our society. We must demand funds for the skills so that they can flourish. And we must make it clear that the skills are not a luxury – they are essential to our well-being as human beings.
So let’s fight back. Let’s defend the arts. And let’s show the Tories that their culture war will never win.
What do you think?
Should the arts be defended?
What do you think the effect of the Tories’ actions will be on cultural life in Britain?
Do you think the arts are essential to our well-being as human beings?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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