Every day we are surrounded by the arts, from poetry to paintings to films. We are engrossed in the latest single released by our favourite artists, or a new series of our most treasured television show. Yet over recent years, the education sector has been criticised for cutting back on and undervaluing creative subjects. The industry has also often been viewed as an unstable field to work in especially for minority groups. With these cuts, it could mean that underrepresented groups will be at a further disadvantage.
Bachelor of Arts Drama student Lucy Harling, 19, who also happens to be in the LGBT group, has strong views on the subject.
Harling said: “I think the arts are definitely pushed to the side in education, especially recently with a lot of cuts on funding to performing and art. I think that’s outrageous because I believe the arts are just as valuable as any other subject and any other industry.”
She added: “If you say the arts aren’t valuable and that they shouldn’t be funded, then you should go a year without watching TV, listening to the radio, listening to music and reading.”
In recent years, the arts have been criticised by those in and out of the industry for not being inclusive of minority groups including races and sexualities.
Harling said: “There’s definitely a lot of bias and it shouldn’t be like this, but people of colour get cast less in main roles, women get cast less in main roles, people with disabilities, trans people, anyone from the LGBT circle, they aren’t represented enough. If your character needs to be, let’s say Japanese, the character needs to be Japanese, you can’t get away with that, you can’t get around that. But I think the writing of the plays and the writing of the characters should change.”
There has been much uncertainty about whether you can earn an adequate living in the industry. From this, it is interesting to understand whether students wishing to pursue the arts ever experience doubt.
Harling explained that: “I’ve definitely had very large moments of doubt. I’m currently studying drama, but I almost did a degree in archaeology because I wasn’t sure how stable drama would be, I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to get a job in the future.”
She noted that the arts are slightly frowned upon in education and beyond, but Harling believes that: “If you’re passionate about something you should follow it, if you truly are passionate you will find a way to be successful and you will make opportunities for yourself and you will succeed.”
There is an association of unreliability towards the arts as an entire industry and whether it is a stable environment.
Harling argued that: “I think the industry is stable enough to make a living in. I think stable if you want to make it stable. I think it depends on what part of the industry you go into. Obviously being an actor is not a stable job unless you get yourself into advertising or something that is less high profile, you’re never going to be stable if you’re trying to make it big or you know, get into TV shows, get into movies or things like that unless you are famous.”
It has been argued that there are not enough ways for people to successfully get into the arts industry. As well as this, people are not supported enough by people around them due to the stigma that arts may convey.
Contrary to belief, Lucy said that: “I think there are opportunities, you just have to find them. As with any other industry, it’s a very proactive industry. If you get into the arts, you need to create that opportunity for yourself or find that opportunity. No one is going to come to you, offering you a job if you don’t look for it. But I definitely think, from my experience, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to get into the arts. I think that was because I was lucky enough to be in a school where that was provided to me.”
She believes that the type of support varies. From her experience, Harling has found that there is support “surrounding theatre because there’s a lot of youth theatre, community theatre groups, things like that which do support children getting into the arts.” She added: “When it comes to actually finding a job in the arts, I don’t think there is necessarily enough support in that … I think there isn’t socially a huge amount of support in joining the arts because it isn’t seen as a proper job.”