Rishi Sunak the Chancellor of the exchequer, the second Lord of the Treasury and Minister of the british crown is a complete asshole.
I could end my post right there but I’ll try to elaborate. Yesterday he suggested when asked about the future prospects of artists he said that we should re-train.
“I can’t pretend that everyone can do exactly the same job that they were doing at the beginning of this crisis”
This obviously incensed the community of artists that contribute 10.8 billion per year to the UK economy and by simply suggesting we need to retain so flippantly suggests we have little or no value, he certainly doesn’t appear to think so.
As an artist there is no doubt that a lot of people think we are nothing but irresponsible wastrels who need to get a proper job anyway and our professions are just an indulgence by adult children who have never grown up but to answer that I would say we only pretend to have not grown up, we act carefree and feckless in order to do what? Why to entertain you of course.
The reality of being an artist is one of the freelancer. In the modern world of course this is more normal that not but for the artist it's always been so. There are no secure jobs, no pensions, no stock options, no unions (worth a damn). Every day is a hustle, every minute is spent thinking about how to translate the breath of the Gods into poetry, paint or a almighty fucking righteous riff. We never quit working.
Do you know any artists? When you talk to them sometimes you think ‘are they even listening to me?’ you notice that his or her milky eyed out of focus look and the monosyllabic responses and it tips you off that they’re not in the room. A melody has occurred, a thought was gifted from the universe and now it must be turned into art, but that's fine you think, you’re used to it.
This is the deal. We do that to express ourselves and by proxy connect to something for you that gives you hope, that makes you cry, that makes you feel alive god damn it and in return we ask for an opportunity to perform for you, to display our art for you, to speak to your soul and also in return for connecting you to your ancestors we ask for a living not a big one, just enough.
One of the greatest honours and privileges of my life was being able to livestream gigs from my home studio during lockdown. I felt the relief of people who were struggling to keep it together, many told me so. I won’t pretend they were the greatest gigs i've ever done but I would say they were the most important. Anxious people from all over the world watched me and Chris (separately) play our livestreams and they thanked us for allowing them to rock out on a Saturday night in these strange circumstances, they needed it, it felt almost normal. The first gig I did people who I didn’t even know saw me smile and sing and at that moment knew things were going to be ok and then they breathed out. I’m still panicking though but I don’t say anything, I use my lifetime of training to make you feel good for a little while during the biggest mindfuck of a crisis we’ve seen since World War 2 and that is according to the Chancellor…..worthless.
Then there's the practical. I’m a gigging musician, that means I just perform songs, right? Wrong. Before I get to perform a song I have to be proficient at
Social media marketing
Budget management and much much more.
Then after becoming good enough at all of those I have to write songs, of course a Tory like Rishi Sunak couldn’t possibly understand just what you have to do to your brain to make it write a song, literally make something from nothing, a psychedelic expression of human creation is beyond your average Tory.
Some people might think what he said isn’t actually that bad, maybe you think the pandemic wasn’t his fault, which is obviously true. The problem for us is that of course it came from a fucking Tory, we know they don’t value us because we know they don’t value anything that doesn’t put money in their pockets so from one throwaway comment its easy to extrapolate exactly what these goblins actually think of us and ultimately they have no intention of helping us or saving the arts economy.
Anyway, I could go on forever. I’ll finish by saying this. We know our value, we know the world imagined by artists is a world of beauty, a world imagined by pond life accountants like Sunak is paved and sterile. Our world sounds like the poems of Joyce spoken over Liam O’Flynns pipes, his is the efficient snap of a ring binder. You’re wrong Sunak and as another Westminister ghoul Malcolm Tucker once said “Now offity fuck”.