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Revels and Rebels VIII

Dear Santa,

Herewith is my eighth Christmas wish. As it is the eighth, I’ve had to partake in an extra big mug of mulled wine.  As you may have heard, the number eight is an inauspicious number for me. But as there’s plenty of hope and good will around this time of year, fingers crossed that there’ll be a truce tonight between me and the number eight, so my Christmas wish can come to you loud and bright.

Santa, for Christmas this year, I would like a revolution.  “Quelle surprise”, I hear you say. Over the 7 Christmases past, we’ve covered revolutions from X-factor like politics to the beauty myth.  And just like every one of these Christmases past, my current wish for a revolution won’t disappoint: In 2016
, I want the British public to get behind the Call to Create.  

That's right Santa. I want a creative revolution.  Just to be clear, I'm not just talking glittery placards here. I'm talking about the type of revolution where Colin next door, little Suzy who dresses up as a warrior princess and Aunt Pat and Uncle Arthur who love G&S help our trade unions, national bodies, and artists to continue standing up for a future where creativity can enable our society's potential and doesn't require, at the minimum, a middle class income.  

Admittedly, I’m talking to a kindred spirit here, Santa, as clearly you are a man who has dedicated his life to creating and delivering on the impossible. You run a tight team of dreamers, makers and doers.  You have mastered your arts and crafts, and created a very efficient process whose intention is to spread hope. With an enviable creative track record like that, it’s a good job you’re headquartered in the North Pole.  Because if it were Britain, you would’ve lost your government funding by now and been marginalised as a 'nice to have' because of your feel good factor.  Or, perhaps our Government would have tried to privatise you, Santa.  After all, you're a publically funded well loved institution with a world reach.   

Investment in the Arts is more political than ever with the Government slashing funding further and making plans to reduce the creative curriculum in schools. And our much loved trade unions, like Equity, are engaged in a game of chess with the Government whereby the value and worth of the Arts is all to play for. And do you know that the BBC is up for grabs?  I know Santa, where would you be without the Archers or Question Time?  And if that isn’t a weak signal shining through the white noise, saying look at where the Arts is heading, I don’t know what is.     

We are living in a time where our Government is hell bent on putting numbers before people – it proved such a wise move with the Banks, so let’s just repeat.  What the Arts teaches us is complex, but I’m going to be brave and boil it down to three crucial things as, Santa, I know that you’re busy tonight. The Arts teaches us to imagine – something different, something better.  That’s called evolution.  It teaches us that failure is success.  That’s called innovation.  And it helps us understand our humanity – that’s life saving.     

If the Arts offers so little investment opportunity for our current Government, why is it that the politicians still bring the international movers and shakers they want to impress to invest, to our opera houses, theatres, galleries and studios? And whilst they sit there, 8 feet from reality, showing off British culture, oh how I dream of walking out to centre stage, just before curtain up, and saying to a full house these lines that I’ve rehearsed in my heart: 

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to [insert name of theatre]. Regrettably, the curtain is being held this evening for 10 minutes in protest against the marginalisation of the Arts. We believe that the work we do helps build societies and transform people. We believe in the power of story. Thank you for your patience.”

Santa, my friends, colleagues, and trade unions are working so hard to combat this marginalisation. From one artist to another, any raising of our creative revolution that can be done as you sprinkle your magic this Christmas Eve would be seriously appreciated.  Perhaps a little tag on every stocking with the word BRIGHT on one side and Einstein's wisdom on the other side would do nicely: 

"Logic will get you from A to B.  Imagination will take you everywhere."   
With love,

Louise x


Reflections on the year that was 2015
To find out more about Stop Arts Cuts, go here 
To love it or lose it, check out the BBC campaign here 
And to understand how the British Government are downgrading the Arts, read more here. And if this gets your goat, then you can BACC for the Future by joning the campaign here

Revels and Rebels is an annual letter to Santa. Since 2007, I've used the form of the Dear Santa letter to reflect on the year that's gone and ask for a wish for the year to come.

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