Artists, any kind of artists, rarely get any recognition in wider society. Sure, for some, there’s the odd back-slapping Award Event… a gushing review in a magazine or journal… a brief mention on TV or Radio… but these aren’t the real motivators for why any creatives make work – not really!
Truth is, we feel it in our bones. We have a need to do it… a burning necessity to learn how to do it better… practise and practise, so gradually over time, we become professionals… to better learn how to make someone feel something, even if, most of the time, the “someone” is just us.
Artists neither expected nor wanted the government to help us when we saved up for our first sampler or guitar… begged, borrowed and stole to get paint or sculpture supplies… worked countless extra hours in “grown-up jobs” to pay off our computers, cameras or train fares to auditions. We relied on the support of other artists, the kindness of whatever audience we managed to gather… and our sheer drive to do it.
We’ve all run an event that we knew would lose us money, recorded music we knew few people would ever bother listening to, made a painting that we knew would never hang in a museum until we were dead… learned to ignore the voices that said it was a “waste of time” and “no-one cared”. Yet, we still have an endless craving to make our precious work – it is essential to us.
Unfortunately, our irrefutable creative desire is what makes the arts and music industries so exposed to the economic destruction of COVID-19… to our community and to our audience. Politicians and corporate hacks can easily cast aside our endeavours as “non-essential”… “unhelpful”… “a useless activity”. Meanwhile, they totally ignore our contribution to society’s wellbeing (not to mention to the Exchequer) . We are a straightforward amputation from the government’s balance sheet – a guilt-free victim of Free Market forces. They know we will still scramble to survive… we have to, to make our art and music exist.
Let’s face it, in the grand scheme of things, artists aren’t curing cancer… we aren’t flying to the moon… we aren’t feeding the hungry… we aren’t saving the environment. But it’s still imperative for creatives to make art and music – it is essential work and deserves respect. What we do has crucial purpose and we will do it no matter what. The reason? We know sometimes, for a fleeting moment, we can create magic… and if ever the world required a brief second or two of enchantment, it needs it now!!!