Last Saturday evening, I went to the cinema for the first time in what seems like forever. From looking at my previous cinema tickets (I enjoy keeping them for some strange reason), the last time I went to the cinema was in September 2019, more than a year ago. Cinemas have been in decline in recent years, with streaming companies such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, enveloping the film industry. I spend a lot of time watching Netflix, and in particular I overindulged during lockdown this year. However, it wasn’t until last Saturday, that I realised how much I had truly missed the cinema. Tango ice blast in hand, the buzz of conversation whilst finding my seat, the big screen; how I had missed it. Perhaps I’m being slightly dramatic, but watching a film on the huge, clear screen, alongside bold, powerful speakers, was an experience I had missed. Cinemas have continued to struggle even more in the pandemic, and after my enjoyment of last weekend, I think we need to truly begin ensuring we preserve this industry and The Arts as a whole .
With retail, hospitality and sport industries all opening up, the entertainment industry was still waiting for a full reboot. Despite some of our favourite TV shows resuming, new music being produced and cinemas opening, much of the entertainment industry was still left neglected by the U.K. government. It is said that the general creative industries were facing a £74billion loss after lockdown, with the threat of the loss of up to 400,000 jobs.* In a country so successful in this industry, I am sure many of us were heartbroken at the thought of losing it’s power and significance in this country. In July, the U.K. government pledged a £1.57billion ‘rescue package’** in an attempt to save The Arts from the losses during the pandemic. Although the government admittedly seemed to be trying, it still took much outcry from both professionals and the public to push for this, and it still remains questionable whether this is enough. Theatres still remain mostly closed, concerts are almost unheard of, and evidently there are less people who are enthused, or even able, to go out and support these industries, hence the need for the government to continue to do more.
My own school play was cancelled this year, due to issues with social distancing, as it was almost impossible to practice these measures during our performance. It’s sad to see the effect coronavirus has on The Arts, as even the simplest school plays are unable to go ahead. We are finding ways to cope with the changes faced, creating socially distant, mini-performances instead of the normal, whole senior school one that would be around this time of year. This year has been all about adaptation, and even if things do have to be altered, it’s important we keep spirits up and keep our passions alive, as we all need something to look forward to at the moment. I appreciate The Arts may not be the top of everyone’s priorities right now, or even an area of interest all together, but next time you sit down to watch some TV, you may think of the consequences of neglecting The Arts a little more.
So, what can you do to help? Firstly- use your voice! Share genuine, educational posts on what’s happening to The Arts to raise awareness and keep The Arts in the spotlight. Ensure you’re funding The Arts yourself! Of course, very few people indulge in the cinema, theatre or museum every weekend, but it may nice every once in a while to remind yourself that The Arts are still here and see if there’s anything that may appeal to you; even a simple beginner’s dance class could be fun! Talking about the industry to family and friends will help to keep The Arts a vital part of society, and it’s a brilliant conversation topic as it’s been an important aspect of every generations life. Finally, call out the government! A few peaceful protests have been sparked recently but, as I would advise staying away from larger crowds, there are plenty of other ways to raise awareness! Sign petitions, use your social media to raise your voice, and be vigilant in ensuring the government doesn’t step down their support.
The Arts have always been a huge part of my life, and it pains me to see the industry struggling, and I hope that we do see a recovery soon, as I can’t picture my life, nor anyone else’s, without them.