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There was a minor uproar recently in the UK over an ad campaign featuring a picture of a ballerina with text suggesting that her next job could be cyber. The implication a lot of people saw in this was that the arts aren’t a viable career path.
And I recall there was a similar ad campaign in the US in the last 4-5 years, but I can’t remember what it was. If anyone recalls, please refresh our memories. I remember President Obama made an ill-advised comment, but I feel like there was an ad as well.
The UK government decided to scrap the ad campaign after criticism from many quarters.
Charlotte Bence, from the Equity trade union, said: “Fatima doesn’t need to retrain – what Fatima needs is adequate state support as a freelance artist, support that so far she has been lacking. Freelance workers deserve better than patronising adverts telling them to go and work elsewhere.”
Earlier the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, denied encouraging workers in the struggling arts industry to retrain. He insisted he was talking generally about the need for some workers to “adapt”, and suggested there would be “fresh and new opportunities” available for people who could not do their old jobs.
According to Arts Council England, the arts and culture industry contributes more than £10bn a year to the UK economy.
The government’s messaging aimed at those working in the arts sector has been heavily criticised in recent weeks. After Sunak’s winter economy plan was released with a focus on “viable” jobs, many in the arts expressed anger at the government appearing to suggest their roles were “luxurious hobbies” that could be given up for other work.
There was a parody of the government ad that came across my Twitter feed today that perfectly reversed the original piece. It featured a Cyberman, a villain from the Dr. Who series. Instead of a dancer getting work in cyber, a cyber’s next job will be in dance.
While, that raises the spectre of robots replacing dancers, if you have ever seen a cyberman move you wouldn’t be terribly concerned at this juncture.
We all have to pivot. pic.twitter.com/xeIUR4he5U
— Michael Wheeler (@michaelcwheeler) October 19, 2020