Oh Fatima…

The current angst towards the government has been well and truly highlighted.

I’m sure you have all seen the latest ad that has recently gone viral on social media. If you haven’t here it is:

Oliver Dowden's apology over 'crass' Fatima advert encouraging dancers to  get IT jobs | HeraldScotland

Being someone that has pursued a career in the arts I feel like I’m in a pretty good position to give my take on this whole debacle.

Let me just say that it is no surprise why this ad peeved people off. With Rishi Sunak seemingly implying that people in the arts should “retrain” and consider other careers, this ad seems to only add salt to the wound.

But with everything that goes viral these days people are quick to react with their emotions instead of actually sitting back and taking a more holistic view at what is happening. If you’re someone who is in the arts, you may not like this blog post so please proceed with caution. But I think it’s important for me to not just simply add to the noise that social media is currently generating and instead give you my own genuine take.

As I said, I am someone that has studied and worked in the arts industry. I won’t lie and say that I am an expert or have been doing it for years but it is no doubt a passion and a career goal of mine. But I am also not someone to simply be outraged by everything I see online, especially without looking deeper into the situation.

And for those of you that like to assume things, this is by no means a defence of the government. I don’t align myself with any political party and with this I think I can come at this with a more unbiased opinion. It is clear that many people have become tired with the governments attempts to control the pandemic, me included, but this does not mean that I am going to default to criticising everything they do. I have eyes, I can see what is happening, I don’t need to jump to conclusions.

And let’s get one thing straight, there has been this overarching rhetoric that the arts are being targeted, and is an industry that has not been sufficiently supported by this government. And that’s an argument in itself but whether you believe that or not Rishi Sunak was actually suggesting that people from all industries should consider retraining, he wasn’t singling out the arts.

And for anyone in the arts we all know what a gruelling industry it is to be a part of. It takes resilience, hard work and passion to really make a career in any creative industry and I’m by no means trying to take away from that. But let’s also be honest for a second, it can often be an industry that fluctuates. Some freelancers don’t even know where their next pay cheque is coming from and entry level roles pay poorly in comparison to other sectors. Sometimes, in fact a lot of the time, I do wish that I picked a career path that did have more security.

The stigma of saying you want to become an actor, or a rapper or a film director is still very apparent today. It’s a hard game. And this is not me saying that it’s not worth it. If you want something, you should most definitely go out there and try and get it. Do whatever you can. And people that make it to the top in the arts are some of the most talented people you could ever meet. But is gaining a skill in an industry that is a lot more guaranteed and structured than the arts such a bad idea? I mean you may think it is. Because you’ve put all of your time and effort chasing this dream, does it make sense to abandon that for a life that sure, may be more secure but is less fulfilling?

For me personally, it would most definitely be something I’d consider. Coming from a place where I swore I would never be stuck in a job I didn’t want to do, I am also an adult. I have bills to pay and houses to buy. A career in the arts may not be able to fund that unfortunately.

Going back to the ad though, as with Rishi Sunak’s testament, the ads were also targeted at people in varying industries, not just the arts. But I loved the irony that to create the ad it required people from the very industry they were persuading people to leave. AND WITH THIS… I reach my final point.

CyberFirst

What is the big deal? It is abundantly clear that with the dominant nature of social media, film and TV the arts are not going anywhere. And in fact I think everyone should be training themselves in some sort of artistic skill. Living in a technological age it will undoubtedly come in handy at some point. Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden has stated that the government is investing £1.57bn into the arts industry. I mean, talk is cheap but whether this is true or not, I am under no illusions that us artistic and creative people will be able to carry on doing what we love. But we know the government sucks, we know people get things wrong and if you have a passion for something and you’re dedicated to it happening for yourself then something like this shouldn’t bother you, actually, I’d argue it should even encourage you.

But also I’m not here to tell you how to feel. If you were outraged and still are then that’s your right. What I don’t like is the unearthing of a sense of entitlement a lot of people in the arts have. I understand that my career, and work in my field is not guaranteed. It is a hard pill to swallow but at the end of the day you can work your arse off and still get no where, even in a non COVID world. Just because you want to do or be something doesn’t mean the world will cater for this. And let’s put things into perspective, people are dying and losing loved ones, the government (even though crass) suggesting we consider other career options is noteworthy but at this point arbitrary. And let’s not also forget that a lot of people (many in the arts) have already lost their job. Things are only going to get harder, and you know I would bet my future house that actually, there are people in the arts who would happily consider career in cyber for more money and added job security.

I really do think that people are in this spiral of judging the government at any given opportunity where they lose their sense of reasoning and objectivity. And again, I am not defending them, the government should be at the mercy of the people and subject to criticism, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of your ability to think logically and research whatever it is that has pissed you off.

One good thing has come from all this though, the memes.

Nevertheless with media being so pervasive in our society the amount of propaganda we swallow is truly staggering. This is just a case of bad marketing. We know things are going to change. Aspects of your life will change, your career might be one of them. If you think you won’t have to compromise or adapt moving forward then you haven’t been paying attention.

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