The arts have been my strongest love affair. Nothing beats the few seconds when the lights go down in the theatre, the communal laughs and cries, the cathartic sorting out of our collective human shit.
It’s my church, my collective, faith.
No matter how many times I try to escape in search of an easier life, I’ll always come back, tail between my legs, begging for one last chance.
You’ll understand why it breaks my heart to see the state it’s in. It’s 2016 and it’s still rich white men at the top.
It really needs to change.
There are some fantastic people and companies spearheading change, but is it really enough?
I’m sick to the back teeth of researching successful people in the arts and finding the Oxbridge connection. As Caitlin Moran says, surely all the clever, talented and driven people didn’t all come out of the same school?
I went to a fantastic comprehensive school and loved every minute of it. I was taught by some fantastic teachers and achieved some great results – but I often wonder how the other half lived. What makes privately educated people in the arts succeed where others fail? Is it a sense of entitlement? Is it the the safety net of family wealth? Is it access to gatekeepers?
I’m aware that as a white female I hold a greater sense of privilege than many in the arts. How do we make the industry fairer for the less privileged? How do we combat the new wave of tokenism and tick boxing?
I went back and listened to Neil Gaiman’s #MakeGoodArt speech yesterday and it reminded me that at the heart of it all, it’s the art that counts and opportunity to engage with it.
So what do we do?
Firstly, we all strap on our warrior faces and claw in for the long fight. We need to get together and figure out how we can make changes to encourage diversity and equal representation across the board.
Secondly, I think we all need to put our money where our mouth is.
Nothing will change if we don’t go back to basics. We need to get into schools and youth clubs and tell children that they are talented, welcomed and needed in this industry. We need to make sure that all kids feel valued. We need to tell them that it’s the art they should be most concerned with. Become obsessed, become brutal with your own work and become your own best friend. We need to tell them that failure is okay. We need to become mentors and counsellors and by God, if you’re in a pretty comfortable position in your career, then you really need to help us with this.***
Lastly, I urge everyone to remember why we fell in love with the arts in the first place. Take that feeling and vow to cultivate that in others.
Life and careers are way too short to simply do what you’re told.
*** (If anybody wants to act on this idea, I’d love to get into schools and start this, contact me)