Cre­at­ing great art is work

The Irish Times Magazine - - SOUND OFF -

Art is im­por­tant for so­ci­ety. Great mu­sic can soothe the soul. A line of great poetry can prompt you to re­flect on life. A great book can trans­form how you look at the world.

I am of­ten asked why tax­payer’s money should be in­vested in artists and mak­ers. If you be­lieve that mak­ing art is an in­dul­gent hobby, con­tribut­ing lit­tle in rev­enue to so­ci­ety, then con­sider the thou­sands em­ployed be­hind the scenes at all the fes­ti­vals that take place here each year; stag­ing, sound, light­ing, en­gi­neer­ing, pro­duc­tion, se­cu­rity, lo­gis­tics, armies of medics, clean­ers, car­pen­ters, electricians, chefs, bar teams, those pro­vid­ing and sup­ply­ing food, fenc­ing, por­taloos, elec­tron­ics, lo­cal ac­com­mo­da­tion, res­tau­rants, cafes, shops and bars, air­lines, bus ser­vices, and all their em­ploy­ees and sup­pli­ers and more.

But you can’t have fes­ti­vals with­out artists and mak­ers. Artists and mak­ers – quite of­ten the worst- and last- paid at fes­ti­vals – gen­er­ate work for thou­sands more. Their “prod­uct” pays wages, drives lo­cal busi­ness and cre­ates jobs. It sup­ports fam­i­lies, puts food on the ta­ble, roofs over heads and petrol in cars. It pays for school books and uni­forms and trips to the doc­tor. Cre­at­ing great art isn’t a pas­time or a hobby. It is work. It takes time, ef­fort, com­mit­ment, long days and late nights, just like most pro­fes­sions.

With­out de­cent fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment in cre­at­ing a liv­ing wage for artists and mak­ers, there would be no fes­ti­vals. There would be no work for those be­hind the scenes. We need to sup­port our artists and mak­ers. Even if we re­move all the other ar­gu­ments around the so­ci­etal ben­e­fits of a strong, vi­brant and sta­ble arts com­mu­nity and bring it down to “brass taxes”, artists and mak­ers fa­cil­i­tate the creation of great jobs and great rev­enue streams. Shouldn’t we fa­cil­i­tate them to con­tinue to make great art?

An­gela Dor­gan is chair of the Na­tional Cam­paign for the Arts

Do you have some­thing you’d like to Sound O f f a b o u t ? E ma i l 3 0 0 w o r d s t o mag­a­zine@ irish­times. com with Sound Off in the sub­ject line

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