Christmas is fast approaching and I’ve created a new video for you! As you might have heard, London is back into lockdown and this time it’s a very strict one (Tier 4), but I’m happy I had the chance to wander around the city when things where still not as bad as now, and managed to shoot some footage of the lovely Xmas lights that this city offers. But in my new video you will not only see Xmas lights. You will also see beautiful West End theatres with their doors painfully shut. Let me explain why.
In my previous video, “8 lessons I’ve learned in 2020”, I’ve narrowed down to 8 the hundreds things this tough year taught me, trying to mention those who where pretty much relatable for everyone. But there’s another important lesson, that as an artist myself I could not let slip unmentioned. The treatment that my category received from the UK Government since the pandemic started, and various other statements from politicians, institutions and media made me realise that, as artists and creatives, we still have a big stigma to fight: the stigma of being NON-ESSENTIAL. Of not being considered real workers. Just people that play around, having a lot of fun. Some kind of eternal Peter Pans that never wanted to grow up and find “a real job”. And as someone who spent his adolescence/young years nurturing his passion for the Arts, studying and educating myself, working hard to pay my studies and invest in my projects, this is unacceptable.
How does this stigma translated into political actions? Well, from the start of the Covid emergency here in the UK we saw a huge disparity between the help and the criteria set up for salaried workers and for self-employed workers. Many self-employed, artists and theatre workers have fallen into the cracks of a system that didn’t take into consideration a lot of aspects of an artist’s “work contract”, and they got no support. When things where finally reopening, it was perfectly acceptable to have a shopping mall packed of people, or an airplane full with no distancing, but theatres were imposed such strict requirements that many of them couldn’t find convenient reopening at all. The treatre industry was helped with a lump sum of money only after petitions and campaigns from thousands of workers who had lost their jobs. But it was a help to theatres, not a help to the single workers. Because the Government never lose the occasion to remark how they think that “the artists are not viable”, that we “should retrain and find another job”. We have also been called “low-skilled”. What does it even mean? Who decides that a person who works in retail or enters data on a computer is more “skilled” than someone who can sight-read a musical score, play an instrument, write a script?
All this made me reflect about the value and the importance of the Arts, and probably never as much as now I feel passionate about it. As a starting point for the creation of my video I’ve asked my Instagram followers “How did the Arts help you in life?”, and the replies I got were incredible. “They gave me confidence and purpose”, “they helped me express what I couldn’t handle otherwise”, “they made me find myself and helped me show the best part of me”, just to mention a few.
My education in the Arts allowed me to come out of the shell of a shy and introvert young man, it gave me a tool to express myself with confidence, it comforted me and nourished my soul. My theatrical training taught me to trust people and work in a team, it taught me discipline and curiosity, it fuelled me with a hunger for culture and self-improvement, it instigated me to think outside the box and not be scared of being different.
How can the Arts be considered something “superfluous” in a society? Try for a second to think of how life would be without Arts and creativity. No music, no movies, no theatre, no books, poetry. No photography, visuals, graphic designs.
This video is a letter to Santa Claus, but it’s mainly a heartfelt declaration of love to the Arts and Culture and a sincere wish for a world that recognises the value that they bring to the society.
I hope you enjoy it, and if you do, please like/comment/share/subscribe 🙂 See you soon and have a very Happy Christmas!!!