My round of applause is for the NHS, key workers AND artists.

Since the country went into lockdown a peculiar thing has happened; people who we rely upon for medical care and essential services have been applauded whilst those we are used to applauding (entertainers) seem to have been left behind. Now I’m not saying that clapping for people who have provided care and assistance during unprecedented times isn’t worthy (although I would suggest they might prefer a pay rise) it’s just that when pubs, cafes, cinemas and even barbers are reopening you begin to question when a restart will be allowed for theatres and music venues and whether, for some, that day may come to late.

When most people think about the arts they might think of music or theatre or painting but the arts in the UK is a mind bogglingly broad church of disciplines some are embedded in communities whilst others represent Britain on a global stage. British people are very good at being creative; our arts practice is progressive, innovative and exciting not to mention a massive employer and a positive impact on the wider economy (Stratford Upon Avon would be just another small town in Warwickshire without William Shakespeare). The problem is that creativity was never going to be a particularly pandemic resilient business model and the longer a situation in which people cannot work goes on the more and more serious the threat to people’s livelihoods. In the past month I have spoken to several people with the gravest concerns about the future and for many in the sector there is no end in sight.

Since starting to write this blog the government have announced a significant bailout fund to help the arts. This is undoubtedly positive but questions remain as to who will benefit from that money and whether it’s already too late for organisations who are using crowd funding platforms for survival. £1.57 billion sounds like a lot but consider this; if only 100,000 people were employed in the sector this bailout amounts to a £1000.00 per person. In a country that spends almost £8 billion a year consuming culture this money may prove to be a drop in the ocean.

Twenty years of working in the arts have taught me that you have to be competitive and have a thick skin if you are going to get anywhere but the past three months have been almost ridiculous and there comes a point when as a community we have to stick together. So here’s something proactive; it’s my standing ovation for the artists I know and love and who inspire me. If you are reading this blog please consider visiting their websites and if you control a budget please consider including them in your future plans. My initial list include storytellers, visual artists and filmmakers, illustrators, theatres, bookshops (there are just too many authors for me to fairly recommend), poets, community arts groups, youth groups and museums but I will be happily expanding this list in the coming weeks so do get in touch if you feel a name should be added. I am happy for this list to be copied and shared as it is felt appropriate.

Chicken & Frog Bookshop (Bookshop), Chorley Little Theatre (Amateur Theatre), Craig Bradley (Poet), Dom Conlon (Poet), Ebb & Flo Bookshop (Bookshop), Hannah Brailsford (Stgoryteller), Cat and Hutch (Performance Company), Justin Coe (Poet), The Con Club (Venue), Andy Copps (Storyteller), Cryer Arts Centre (Venue), Gladrags (Costume Company), Little Angel Theatre (Puppet Theatre), Little Blue Monster Productions (Theatre Company), Low Fat Radio (Radio), Sarah Lloyd-Winder (Storyteller), London Dreamtime (Storyteller), Hackney Museum (Museum), Preference Studio (Visual Arts), Really Big Pants Theatre (Performance Company), Adam Richards (Magician), Rock the Tots (Music), Studio B (Youth Performance), Wendy Shearer (Storyteller), Sarah Siggs (Author), Pyn Stockman (Storyteller), Joshua Siegel (Poet), The Atkinson (Theatre), Upstage Lancashire (Youth Performance), Alex Wharton (Poet), Luke Wright (Poet), Wishworks (Puppet Theatre), Dan White (Illustrator), William Morris Gallery (Museum), Ye Olde Rose & Crown (Venue), Young Shakespeare Company (Theatre Company), Neal Zetter (Poet), 7 A Films (Visual Arts)…,

To echo something someone cleverer than me said about something else quite recently; I’m not saying that travel, retail or hospitality jobs don’t matter I’m just saying that people who live, work and breath the arts need our support now.

#savethearts #artslivesmatter

John Kirk is a professional storyteller telling stories in schools and libraries and at events and festivals.  For more information or to make an enquiry, complete a contact form.