This is a personal call for solidarity and collective support at this time of darkness and disarray. We are stronger together. Can we come together?
WE NEED A MOVEMENT OF CULTURAL MOVEMENTS NOW!
Our cultures are nothing without their communities and groups and collectives, their ideas and creativity and passionate pride, and, most importantly, the people who make our cultures: everyone, every day.
And yet, our cultures are under attack. A consistent, planned, well-resourced and coherent attack. This attack takes several forms. It uses ideological neoliberalism to impose austerity, top-down management, dependency on the state, privatisation, voluntarism, precarity in the workplace, precarity in everyday life; it creates a “truly hostile environment”. The attack also manifests itself as xenophobia, racism, sexism, and a hateful othering of anyone and anything not conforming to increasingly a right wing, nationalist norm. The attack intends to further divide us; to impose the rule of free market individualistic consumerism upon us. The attack is about reasserting the power of an elite using lies and manipulation on every level against us. The attackers use all forms of communication to confuse, sadden and abuse us.
We are facing a culture war which is not of our making but nonetheless must be opposed and negated. As an artist and cultural sector worker, I hear so many fellow artists and workers say that they feel frightened to speak out about wages, nepotism, mistreatment, theft of their ideas, the way funding is distributed, the lack of any certainty about studio spaces, the lack of any rights, and much more. I see a cultural system that has inverted the pyramid of cultural production so that the majority of those who now make a living (a decent living, that is) from cultural production are the directors, the managers, the administrators, the middle men and women, the policymakers, the consultants, whilst the cultural producers – the artists – are left with virtually nothing, made to feel lucky for a few scraps.
As an activist, I see a world burning. Climate catastrophe; erosion of human and civil rights; devastation to essential public services; homelessness; social cleansing; perpetual war; fascism; racism; hate crimes; crass corporate greed dressed up behind cultural sponsorship that falsely affirms some sort of vague corporate social responsibility agenda that is, after all, just a PR exercise; Brexit; and much more.
Make no mistake. This is a concerted, well-orchestrated attack. They are very well organised.
And, the trouble is, we are not. We are not well organised. We are too fractured and fragmented; too focused on issue-specific campaigning or just on keeping our heads down.
We cannot fight for our rights, for the rights of others, for social justice without organising, without organising and acting collectively.
As cultural workers, we are privileged. We can produce work that challenges the systems and ideologies that seek to oppress not just us but most of our fellow human beings. We can speak out. And we can support each other and other movements who are now organising around the common call: “Enough is enough!”
I am calling for everyone involved in the production of arts and cultures to organise as a new Movement of Cultural Movements which can support others with similarly progressive, left of centre outlooks on campaigning, sharing information and demanding better rights for the sector and everyone in our society. This Movement of Cultural Movements will ensure we are stronger together. It will enable us to join the broader Movement of Movements that is coalescing and use our creativity to support other campaigns. We can still focus on our specialist areas but we support each other much more than we presently do and are capable of doing.
We are stronger together and, right now, we must put our differences aside and be stronger together. These are dangerous times and we cannot afford to stand in relative isolation or to stay quiet for fear of reprisal.
Extinction Rebellion have recently adopted a movement of movements strategy. We must do the same too.
This is a personal plea for solidarity during these dark times.
I am sad but I am also full of hope and energy that we can and must change things. This will never be easy. It isn’t meant to be easy. But I know we are stronger together.
Listen to Kate Tempest. She says it much better than me.
We all know that change lies within us and that we must rekindle our humanity and our love for one another now.