Demonstration 26 March Artists Unite To Protest Cuts

Critical Creativity; Arts facilitate voice for the masses

In March we march, we occupy, we resist and we insist. The short sighted cuts and budgetary realignments are not welcome or necessary here in Britain; healthier, more appropriate and sustainable alternatives exist.
What we have witnessed in the past 9 months is a telling precursor to today’s budget. A systematic deconstruction of all that holds Britain together, no sector is sacred, save for the Coalition’s bosom buddies the bankers and big business, and an ever more unqualify-able defence allowance; currently stretching to a massive £3million a day to interfere with Libyan politics alone, which appears to be harming as many if not more innocent civilians as actual Gaddafi defenders. Education, Health, Employment Opportunities, Benefits, Disabilities, Charities and of course the Arts and Culture have been totally marginalised and the depth of the brutality of the damage being carried out, quite strategically, for the most myopic of reasons; that of blind, amoral profit, are making themselves ever more painfully clear. For those who will try to rip out the heart of Britain, may they be prepared to feel the swell of uprising against their disconnected perspectives and explicitly self-serving policies. And may the Arts, our creativity and capacity for critical thinking provide the peaceful but quirky means by which the masses can be inspired to demonstrate their growing discontent productively.

During the Coalition’s time in office, we have seen record u-turns in the face of public outcry, in some desperate attempts to hold public relations, whilst continuing with devastating slashes in front line services, necessary non-profit driven infrastructures, education and employment opportunities, incredulous NHS proposals; the list goes on and on; but today we will not be appeased by any incongruent gestures. We will not be quelled with the threat of police brutality, as seen demonstrated again yesterday in the occupied Glasgow University, nor will we be silenced by attempts to play one sector’s sustainability against another’s, nor attempts to belittle or undermine the integrity of the thousands of concerned voices. There is solidarity and integrity in the masses’ objections to the government’s narrow-minded proposals, ideologies and priorities. Irrelevant of which sector you work in or for, no area is impervious to the swiftly-made and short sighted Coalition decisions, which many would argue have been and are being seemingly bulldozed through.

The cuts to the Arts show not only a flagrant disregard for culture but also show what would appear to be an attempt to expunge the forums by which critical thinking and free expression are encouraged and nurtured. Aside from the cuts to the Arts, and of equal concern, there seems to be a willful striving by the current Coalition to redefine what is and is not deemed as Art; at the pinnacle of which would be ‘Art’s’ capacity to act as a saleable commodity or a value based social-status icon; i’m afraid this sits at odds with my own understanding of the arts and that of my respected colleagues and peers.
Meanwhile, the Census 2011 is well underway, you are probably aware that this is being carried out by the arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin, costing £150million in British tax payers money. Money that directly and indirectly funds this war-hungry, capitalist atrocity which engineers human being killers and maimers.; not to mention their direct and indirect links to alleged parties of an unscrupulous nature in Afghanistan via Dyncorp. Are you comfortable that this is the calibre of organisation that the British government is happy to get into bed with, commission and fund? Are you comfortable with divulging your personal information to a corporation such as this? Perhaps it is simply more salt in the wound that in these austere times for British Industry, Lockheed Martin will notably, as an American company, not be paying a British tax bill this year?

From today’s Budget, from the quintessentially socially removed George Osbourne, anticipate a few pathetic attempts to placate the masses’ anger and anguish as their quality of life and opportunities are set to further lessen, as a direct result of Coalition policy and budgetary measures, and a glossing over of the sweeping direction of the budget and its favouring of the profit hungry rather than integrity or service driven. Here we are, together in this? Ha, it would appear otherwise. I look forward to the day Cameron literally chokes on those words.

En masse we are indeed a force to be reckoned with, and may the reckoning continue and gather momentum. The Arts are our voice, by which we can make clear our choices, creatively and empoweringly. They can facilitate unifying and powerful acts of subversion and dissent that can substantiate positive change in our lifetimes. Our critical creativity will not be chastised, it will be resolute and manifest in our actions; how will we choose to move forward? Creatively and collectively of course.

So then, budget cuts, who cares? This is a further call for creative solidarity, a call out to all critical thinkers, creatives and philanthropists across the UK and beyond, to all those who value quality of life; free thought, choice and expression. Raise your voice, not your fist. Be creative, get involved and stand up for an ethical, sustainable, creative future for society now and for generations to come.

Whats going on near you? Today? At the weekend? Next week? If it’s not already organised why not arrange something yourself! Will you be attending the March in London this Saturday, 26th March (contact local unions for details of free transport to London) or maybe attending one of the hundreds of local demonstrations set to take place around the UK (details on various sites promoting alternatives and on social networking sites)? Take over your public spaces and buildings and make your concerns heard and support the masses who will raise their voice alongside you to defend our collective rights!

So, how about a tea party in/outside your council offices or local bank? dancing outside downing street? how about a singing protest outside whitehall? how about a bail-in to occupy a bank? or standing on one leg en masse outside the cabinet offices? how about auctioning off your integrity outside a known tax dodging outlet? dressing up as a 29th century street urchin pockets turned out or a bloated fat-cat? How about playing recordings of ministers speeches back to them as part of an improvised pantomime? Be a part of it by whatever means you can, even if that means simply sharing this article with someone and/or being present at a demonstration.

Don’t be mistaken if you are not challenging the systems and policies which strip away your human rights, your opportunities, your voice and right to choose; you are actively supporting them. We are not all in this together but together we can show whitehall and the world, the crass, elitist failure of the current UK government and bring about meaningful and ethical change for greater good.

Integrity in, coalition out. We have the might, the mediums and the means at our fingertips, how will you use yours?

Text and Image by Interdisciplinary Artist, Rebecca Mellor

Image: Untitled (Consequences of relevances, relevances of consequences series) Rebecca Mellor 2011