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Why do we talk about ‘the arts’?

If you listen to people talk about arts and culture in the UK, whether they are journalists, or people who run arts organisations, or politicians, people often use the phrase “the arts”. Why?
Posted by David Jubb

We don’t say “the sports” or “the heritage”. I think it’s indicative of a wider problem in the way we perceive “the arts”. We have put them on a pedestal, we have professionalised them, separating professional arts from amateur arts. In doing so we have created an awkward relationship with them. Perhaps this is why arts organisations currently super-serve the most socio-economically advantaged in our communities as demonstrated by the Warwick Commission’s report. Perhaps this is why arts journalists seem to focus so much on the art on stage or on the wall, rather than the creativity in each of us. Perhaps this is why fewer school students are studying arts subjects because we think a career in the arts is only for some people, rather than thinking that a creative career, in whatever field, is for every single one of us.

All publically funded organisations have a civic role to play. Hospitals and health centres are here to help us live longer. Libraries and schools are here to help us expand our horizons. Arts organisations are here to enable everyone to be creative. By taking a responsibility for creativity in our communities, we can play a leading role in our communities, connecting with dozens of other local organisations, to explore how creativity can be an active agent for change throughout our community. I think creativity is an everyday superpower that we can all access and it can make a positive difference in every situation or help tackle any challenge. Along with improved health, improved knowledge, and other key human developments, using our creativity is key to our future together.

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