It’s extremely hard to accept the words coming from a politician’s mouth, particularly when they are the richest person in the House of Commons with a property portfolio in the UK and America worth around £10 million.
I’m of course talking about Rishi Sunak who has been interpreted to have said in an ITV interview “Musicians and others in the arts should retrain and find other jobs.”
You can read the full transcript here and make up your own mind about ITV’s interpretation which has gone viral and developed a life of its own: https://fullfact.org/economy/rishi-sunak-arts-opportunities/
Of course creative people across the board are outraged and taking to Facebook, Twitter etc to vent their anger. But let’s stop for a minute, breathe and take stock.
Rishi Sunak could, much as you don’t want to admit it, be right. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said: “Change is the only constant.” In the last 6 months the world has radically changed. Our societies have been turned upside down. No one really saw it coming and now we are all trying to survive. Of course there are millions of pounds spent on weapons as one controversial instance that could be spent to help the homeless, the sick, those on the lower rungs, and artists but why would they use that money to help you? You don’t count in the grand scheme of neoliberalism. You never did. The days of a job for life ironically died years ago and the world through technological advances is moving so swiftly it’s almost impossible now to keep up. As we all clutch our mobile phones, we are all culprits to our capitalistic incarceration.
The old dated models of the music industry died years ago. As musicians we can all look back at when the Beatles exploded onto the scene, when Dylan went electric, when the Sex Pistols frighteningly emerged, when Hip Hop boomed from New York and LA, while as comedians we can watch Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, Richard Prior etc and their meteoric rises to fame and the same across all the other art genres. As aspiring artists we can watch these with hopes to replicate one day, but the simple fact is the world has changed and will continue to. There is a need to contextualize. The rules keep changing, but one certainty which remains is that the government doesn’t care about you, granted it should, its role is to maintain the welfare of its citizens but a small amount of research disproves this instantly.
John Dewey, the American philosopher once said that politics is “The shadow cast on society by big business.” Just take a look around you. It is clearly evident. We are currently feeling the effects of a Covid ‘Shock Doctrine’, Naomi Klein outlines and elucidates it very well here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFqNAEx1lm4
But personally I don’t think ‘retrain’ is correct. I think artists should start to ‘rethink’. As creatives it is our role to be… creative! Some of the comedians I’ve seen on Facebook are incredibly creative which their delusional dystopian fantasies claiming mandatory mask wearing is one step away from the re-emerging of the Nuremberg trials. Why not put that imagination to good use?! With a world constantly changing, one must do the same, otherwise you die, you get left by the digital roadside. This doesn’t propose that you accept constrictions on your freedoms, I’m talking about innovation. And this is what made all the great artists.
The internet, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google (the FAANG companies) have changed our lives completely in the last 20 years. The world is entirely a new place. How artists can be seen, heard and their works purchased are completely different. There is a whole new world of opportunities to be explored. You just have to let go of the past. It no longer exists. And reduce your expectations of the government. You will then cease to be constantly demoralised and disappointed.
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