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The Arts or is it the Rats? by silvertongedevil Written on 6th January 2006

The Arts, pure, indomitable, incorruptible and unique. A form of communication that can only be of quality if it is not watered down by mediocrity. So why is it that the arts are tampered with in such a way that the finished product is not art but business acumen.

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You don't have to like it for it to be art.
The Arts – as they are called are considered to exist as mans expression of himself. They are created by man for other people’s pleasure, to be enjoyed by various senses, designed to stimulate and titillate the brain and fortify the soul. To perform or create any of the arts one has to be inventive, broadminded and articulate – responsive and passionate. The arts are the only things that we do that separate humans from the animals, unique, colourful and beautiful.

Yet this wonderful form of artistic communication that should be celebrated until the Sun goes cold is one of the most frustrating and difficult mediums to break into, with pitfalls and closed doors just for the sake of it. If we are to believe the Arts Council, that “The pursuit of the arts should and must be open for everyone.” why is it the single most difficult arena of life to become involved in? Is it because the entertainment industry has its’ clammy hands upon it or is the reason more down to earth?

No matter who you are, it is more likely than not that the Arts affect your life in some way or another, I have never met anyone who has not at sometime enjoyed the Arts. Many of us are affected by them every day and few of us can say that we do not finance the industry that surrounds them. One of the most obvious outlets for the Arts is your television, like it or not, as poor as the so-called entertainment is on your ‘box’, it belongs to the classification of the Arts.

Not so long ago the BBC made a great deal about the fact that they were looking for new ‘talent’ to write, act and even direct for them. So why is it that the same old names and faces appear, over and over again? Just last week I found myself listening to a radio play on BBC Radio Four, mainly because it was based close to where I live. It was advertised as ‘A Light Hearted Comedy’ by Ian McMillan. Light hearted it was, so light hearted and inaccurate it beggared belief. Comedy it certainly was not, at least not as I know it. Maybe they meant the sort of comedy that appears on TV sitcoms, the sort of comedy that is to ‘funny’, what Dire Straights are to song lyrics. The real reason it was broadcast at all has probably more to do with the fact that it was written, not by a budding writer or even an established one but by a broadcaster and ‘Jobs for the boys’ was applied.

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Art? or a cartoon of the worlds ugliest woman?
To be fair, TV and particularly the BBC are easy targets; Satans Torch as I like to call it makes big money from programmes displaying a constant through-flow of talentless zombies to the cheer and acclaim of an adoring audience. Asinine products, made by automatons for unthinking mutants.

A less obvious target would be the book industry. Talented or not, unless you have an agent the publishers will not look at your work, problem is unless you are a published author the agents don’t want to know you. The Harry Potter phenomena is a case in point. Whatever you think of the series, the drafts for the first books travelled the globe in a search for a publisher only to find that said publishers thought the material rubbish. Rubbish it may have been but the publisher who first saw potential has created his own pound coin press, so is it about talent or is it about how many sequels can be written?

It’s same for the record industry. There are so many good bands about why is it that we seem to be treated to the same recycled drivel, in some cases albums reissued with the songs in a different order. Pap for the pops!

So if the arts are so poor at the moment why are there not more new faces? Simply because it is controlled by the rats who work in entertainment.
Well if it’s controlled can it be art? I doubt it. To quote the Arts Council again, “We believe that the arts has the power to change all our lives and our society.” I’m sure they’re right but whilst TV bosses find solace in making programmes that show “live” TV of people sleeping, nothing is going to change.

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It may be art but is it the original?
Another interesting point rears it’s hideous head in our local government offices. Some local councils have Arts Officers and it just so happened that my own local council has a new officer. What is her background? Did she come from RSC or previously manage a theatre? No, she came from the Tourist Information office also run by the council. A little research (done in the pub of course – I can’t stand people who take their work too seriously) showed that this is certainly the case with two other councils at least, one officer from Accounts, the other from the Lotteries offices.
I’m just touching the tip of the iceberg here, in all areas the artist, whatever his or her calling is being strangled out of existence by the Profit Machine or professional ambivalence.

What is art anyway? I suppose it’s easy to be phlegmatic about it and say it’s anything to do with creating something of beauty, but that clearly isn’t the case; Tracey Emins, Madonna, Barbara Cartland and BBC Radio Three prove that particular ideal wrong. Neither is pickling sheep in aspic art, the art belongs to nature in this case – or god, depending on your particular outlook. Maybe it’s anything created to be enjoyed by others, it’s probably more accurate but if that’s true why is it that 85% of all the works of art and great collections of antiquities on show aren’t the originals? Copies of them surely can’t be art. And what price art if endless files of people are herded past the Mona Lisa with a fraction less than three seconds to peruse the canvas. But then again, it’s just a cartoon of the ugliest woman that ever lived, Celine Dion excepted of course.

The truth is no one can tell you what art is, it’s something you have to make your mind up about. Personally I think ‘entertainment’ has become something other than art and art has transformed into something less than it ought to be. I guess some people hate ballet, others opera, with me it’s Coldplay, but if your pleasure is pure and unsoftened by Entertainment Rats then it has to be art. It is probably the case that today the only “pure art” is by unpublished, or little known performers. Street entertainers, pavement artists, internet poets, local bands etc.

On the other hand there’s the Turner Prize. Well what can I say, go down any town street on a Friday night, find Woolworths or Boots, or any other shop doorway for that matter and look down at the pool of vomit there, you will see more art there than in the Turner Prize. Unique, created with passion and more honest.

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It's art Jim, but not as we know it.


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