Why the arts are important

GUERNSEY might be a small island but it punches well above its weight when it comes to creative talent, as anyone who visited yesterday’s Arts Sunday event will have seen.

In what has become one of the most popular and accessible events in the arts calendar, the Town seafront was once again transformed into a showcase for local arts and crafts producers, musicians and performers.

It was heartening to see, at a time when the arts sector is struggling globally.

Having already faced cuts in government and philanthropic support over the past decade as a result of the 2008 financial crash, Covid-19 has left the UK arts scene in crisis, with many theatres, music venues, festivals and cultural institutions facing financial ruin.

By contrast, Guernsey’s arts scene seems to be thriving.

Yes, we have suffered a few cultural coronavirus victims – for example, this year’s Literary and Photography Festivals were cancelled, as were the usual summer shows. However, annual favourites such as the Seafront Sundays, Castle Nights and Cobo Balcony Gigs have gone ahead and new events have been created, such as next week’s Bailiwick Big Day Out and the following week’s Guernsey Together Celebration.

Even during lockdown, the local community found imaginative ways to continue with their creative pursuits, with many people taking advantage of the extra time at home to complete artistic projects, put on live-stream performances, organise online collaborations and take part in virtual classes.

Why is all this important?

Because the arts are about far more than pretty pictures and frivolous entertainment.

They can illuminate our inner lives, enrich our emotional worlds and define our identities. They can foster empathy and understanding, comfort us, shock us, inspire us. They can cross all divides, make complex ideas accessible, change minds, save lives and leave a mark on history.

Stripping out the arts would not only strip out much of what is most pleasurable in life, but it would also negatively impact on our economy, society, health and wellbeing.

We are truly fortunate, but we are not immune to the problems experienced elsewhere in the world.

Let’s not take the arts for granted.

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