Creating great art is work
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
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