I write this piece the day after the government announced its arts bailout (July 5), having spent most of this morning hanging on every word emitted from the radio while we wait to find out exactly what this all means. Where is the money going? When will it be given to us? If it’s in the form of grants, how do we apply? If it’s loans, what are the terms?
This will all become clear over the next few weeks, I hope, and slowly the effect of this money injection will have a positive impact not only on companies and buildings, but individuals throughout the industry who have been struggling the most. However, until we know exactly what the package means and how it will help, I would rather focus on something else.
For the past few weeks, as lockdown started to ease and dates were announced for shops, pubs and restaurants to reopen, I was beginning to struggle more every day to stay positive.
Friends outside the industry – the ones who hadn’t already been working from home – were talking about going back to their jobs. They were able to start planning for the future. Normal people with normal jobs were able to get back to normal lives. But our industry was getting left behind. We were being forgotten.
I found myself waking up most days last month and crying at least once. I know I’m not alone in that feeling – Kate Maltby’s latest column in The Stage eloquently and sensitively delves into and advises on depression in the arts during this time.
We have all been struggling. Lockdown’s first 100 days passed and were almost as politically disastrous as the period our dear cousins across the Atlantic experienced at the beginning of 2017. And it wasn’t getting any better.
But then something miraculous happened. On Sunday evening, I walked through my front door, looked at my emails and had a message: “Embargoed press release”. Once again I found myself crying. But this was a very different kind of crying. These were happy tears.
Suddenly, a huge wave of calm rolled over me. The elastic band that had been stretched to snapping point was released. I could stop googling phrases like: “Do midwives actually have to deliver the baby” and: “What exactly is a chartered accountant”.
My industry, my job, my family, my life’s work, mattered again. But more importantly, it mattered to those outside of it. For the first time in months I was able to feel, once again, like what I do makes a difference.
There are people whose lives are transformed by the services that we provide to society. And these people cared enough to stand by us, shout with us and support us until the government had to take all of us seriously.
The audience members, the family and friends, the viewers at home all recognised that their lives would be worse off without us. So when we come back, because we will come back, it will be because of them.