With arts budgets being slashed, times are tough for creatives. IdeasTap member and budding journalist/filmmaker Elizabeth Yemisi Adegoke looks on the bright side of life, and asks, can recessions actually be good for creativity?
It's more or less universally accepted that recessions are a bad thing. They lead to cuts, which lead to job losses, which lead to misery, which lead to politicians recycling slogans like “We're all in this together.” Bad times.
The creative industries have been hit pretty hard, the Arts Council are making steep cuts, the British Film Council has been abolished and local councils are slashing their arts budgets. Also it seems like the probability of securing a full-time job gets slimmer by the day, with large companies regularly announcing something redundancies and recruitment freezes, and smaller companies hesitant to hire new staff.
As a budding journalist/documentary maker, I've spent many a day wallowing about this, but during one of my rare breaks from the self-pity train, I had a thought: maybe it isn't all that bad.
Now, before you denounce me as a coalition spy, hear me out.
Perhaps, this time is a sort of gift – a time to perfect skills, to take risks, to figure out if this really is the career path for you.
It has been said that creativity thrives during tough times. Look at the Great Depression for example, which spurred the Golden Age of cinema, John Steinbeck's Pulitzer-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, the resurgence of Blues music, the construction of the Empire State building, the birth of modern comic books, the introduction of Swing music, the continued growth of radio, etc. Not bad for the longest and deepest depression of the 20th century.
Still not convinced? Well, I knew this would be a hard sell, so I asked some other creative minds what their thoughts were.
Mei Yu Lee, a 28-year-old journalist who was recently made redundant: “The recession has made it difficult for people to progress as journalists because many companies are unwilling to hire workers [but] I think the recession is a positive thing for those in the creative industry because it will inspire people to come up with more ideas/ways to stand out.”
Zoltan Adorjan, 21-year-old budding actor: “At all times, artists lead a hard life full of obstacles, which later incorporated in their art gives them extra edge and more depth.”
Enya Patricia Mooney, a 22-year-old designer: “Designers are having to step outside the box to find ways to cut costs. This is a very testing time for everyone – however, I feel we [people in the creative industry] should try to manipulate bad situations to our advantage.”
Bode Aruleba, a 27-year-old animator: “The current economic climate has shielded my chances [of gaining full time employment], so my current plan is to produce my own work and publish my creations.”
Joan Uloth a 35-year-old artist: “Recessions happen periodically. I’d say they’re generally negative, as people have less money to spend on art, [but] tenacity is also important, as success doesn't always come quickly. It’s definitely worth hanging in there!”
So what are your thoughts? Do recessions signal the birth or death of creativity? Post a comment below.
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Read more recession confessions from theatre director Hannah Drake, journalist Ali George and artist Nicolas William Hughes.
If you need some cash for your creative projects, why not apply for our Top Up Fund? We’re offering £500 for projects on the theme of “place”.
Image courtesy of Niecieden on Flickr.