Con-Dem-Nation: UK

Arts, Cuts, Austerity and Prosperity

The short-sighted, position-serving budget cuts and decisions being made by the Coalition government since May 2010 have stirred the waters of unrest in the country so deeply that no-one could possibly deny the diversity of people involved, the depth of feeling solicited and the very real reasons for the protests, and reprove of the choices being made by those elected to serve the population. 

Will further irrevocable damage be allowed to happen? Will the Coalition be allowed to continue with it’s ‘style’ of governance? It would certainly appear that with each new decision, the knife is twisted and more and more people are feeling the burn of being marginalised, discriminated, ignored and spoon-fed a media diet of bullshit and buzzwords. 

Let us not forget that this Coalition Government was not democratically elected in the first place. Surely this is a clear indication that the party political system, with it’s ‘celebrity’ posturing, finger-pointing and empty promises in dazzling manifestos designed by marketing agents, is fundamentally sick? All in favour say ‘I’, and read on.

The DCMS (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) issued the largest budget cuts of all  to the Creative Industries and Infrastructures of the UK since funding began in the 1940s, radically impacting on the Arts Council England, Museums and Galleries around the UK, and funding available for creative professionals amoungst many others. This, seen alongside the horrific proposals for tuition fee increases, is nothing short of a direct attack on your right as an individual to have choice and voice. The Labour Government previously had encouraged a sense that we all have creative potential and people should be encouraged and supported to develop this in the interests of the health of the Country in their Green Paper of 2001. Culture, education and  healthcare are a right for all, not a commodity that should only be accessed by the privileged. Under the Coalition government the ‘knowledge economy’ becomes unsupported and unsustainable and the Thatcher inspired education and healthcare models are further aligned with profit making and administration rather than frontline provision.

The manner in which the likes of Vaizey and Hunt along with their colleagues have ‘reasoned out’ the Coalition’s decisions reflects a deep lack of touch with the impact of these decisions and the nature and value of culture, creativity, education, equality and cognitive ability in today’s society. The language which has been used only acts to perpetuate and create divisions, assumptions and stereotypes. It is totally counterproductive. Are you an artist or a creative professional? Is your practice commodity based? No? Well it would appear that it is the understanding of the Culture Minister that this is what art is; an exhibited commodity art-object. This understanding could not be further removed from my own practice and those of my respected colleagues and peers. 

The supposed potential ‘flight of banking talent’ which was used by the Government in defense against instigating banking reform, has in no way been translated or mentioned in relation to the Creative sectors and their systematic undermining. Personally, I’d be far happier to see a lot of money-grabbing, amoral bankers leave the country than the creatives who give this country their energy and passion, creating a vibrant culture.

The proposals to encourage philanthropy in the UK are a perfunctory gesture, which once considered, shows itself to be another means by which to limit the funding which individuals and non-frontline organisations may potentially have access to, and of course negate the autonomy of the artist/creatives/organisations in the process. The proposed match funding to meet philanthropic donations, we should also remember would not be in addition to the slashed funding, it would simply be a ring-fenced pot within that. Is this a further attempt to depoliticize the content of culture? Will the proposed funding be commodity based? An amount to secure the production of an art-object, a consumer-able? Or would this go towards development, education, training and delivery? Would it be accessible to the process based practices which develop the ideas, skills and critical dialogue which create the viable means by which a product or art-object may be created? Would artists, whilst subsuming their individual choice and voice to their sponsor, simply become the agents whereby corporations get to demonstrate their support of the humanities for social kudos?

A governance system should be representative of the society which it is in place to serve, otherwise it is exploiting it’s position and detrimental to the health of the entire Country, it’s community, it’s culture. Britain is currently being very effectively gutted but fortunately less effectively censored; look and you shall find. We have some amazing communication tools at our fingertips, we are not limited to the mainstreams of media information, nor would we want to be. 

BBC bah! after, as just one example, the joke of the interview carried out by Ben Brown and the dismissive response to the tidal wave of complaints; possibly one of the most ineffectual and cringeworthy examples of damage limitation in the current upheavals. Murdoch empire bah! ridiculous propaganda stories and selective ‘reporting’, unchallenged by the government as the media’s privatization seems only to have limited it’s desire and capacity to report articulated dissent and voice opposition. Mainstream media continue to loose credibility for their failure to report accurately or without bias. 

There is something far more powerful than pompous non-elected government officials; our communications, our integrity and our resolve to change things for the better, the momentum of the UK’s unrest grows. Let’s hope the Coalition doesn’t encourage more extreme behaviour by continuing to alienate people, further strip away their human rights, financially cripple them and attempt to remove their viable forums to challenge the decisions which drastically affect their lives.

The police suggested they would petition to censor our rights to protest; what a brazen attack on our basic human rights, no? During the protests at the back-end of 2010, plain clothes police officers were recorded with faces covered holding rocks. Are the police going to lose all their credibility by their fifth column activities? Is the likes of beating students over the head with truncheons to the extent in which they suffer brain hemorrhaging, battering them with riot shields while they hold up their hands up in a shocked but peaceful defence, dragging them from their wheelchairs and charging at them on horseback acceptable? The police are registered as a profit making organisation; a reminder in case anyone has any delusions that police priority has anything to do with social justice. Our PM’s response to the protests was a joke, attempting to use the opportunity to denigrate or distract from the basis for the protests, belittle people’s concerns, but simply coming across to be totally out of touch and painfully defensive.

Here we are, a society of intelligent, capable and adaptable human beings, manifesting the shifts towards an inclusive civilisation which serves us and our humanity far better than placing priority on profit-making over integrity and morality. The less that mainstream reporting reflects what is actually going on in society, the more it becomes believable that our growing unrest poses a very real threat to the government. The louder Politicians shout, the more they denounce and ignore, the more defensive they appear, clearly concerned that their rule has no longevity.

Our creativity is our capacity to process our experience and the information available around us; we will not let this be systematically trivialised out of society, education, life. Our networks and communications are powerful, there is no need for violence. This simply serves to act as propaganda fodder to sway those who choose to ignore the issues with the impact of the current decisions being made across the board by the Coalition, and the failing bureaucratic systems of governance in place.

No token gestures will sway our conviction: we will use every medium, every connection, every gesture to keep up the message; We will not accept a governance system which is not truly representatives of the needs of society.

But where is the lead voice of this amassing resistance? There is not one and neither is there need for one. This governance revolution needs no leader. We can lead ourselves, as a collective of individuals striving for a better society. Can you hear someone echoing your discontent? I am happy to speak for myself and sick to the back teeth of people telling me they stand for what i do and then proving themselves to be liars, To underestimate the force of the masses would be idiotic; now would be the time to hear the voices which are being raised and ask the questions ‘why?’, then listen.

The terrorists in our society are the people who govern irresponsibly and perpetuate the forums for other people to be irresponsible with life and humanity, They are those who encourage extreme behaviour by marginalising people, those who serve themselves at the expense of others, and then attempt to dismiss concerns. This behaviour is irresponsible and unwelcome, and in it’s inescapable collapse due to it’s unsustainability, who will be held accountable? Is the “Big Society” preparing the scapegoats of tomorrow with the buzzwords of today?

Not so Great Britain, where unfair trade comes as standard, human rights are no longer supported by the government, cost of living rising as wages and living allowances are cut.

Money and power have been systematically filtered upwards towards the few for too long. Surely it is evident that this is not sustainable or ethical? 

Attempting to leave the masses without forums to protest safely or effectively, with threats of police brutality. Perhaps we should all bury our heads in the sand, ostrich-like, and ignore the brazen attacks on social equality and critical thinking. Values which the Coalition seem so intent on bastardising.

Where the government fails or cuts-back, it now will hand over responsibility on a local scale; a smoke-screen of a move which will polarise provision in different geographical areas across the UK, extending and solidifying the impact of a post-code lottery to every aspect of daily life. Do you happen to live in an affluent area prone to bigotry? Well look forward to that as a measure of the attitudes by which ‘localised’ governance will reason-out their decisions. We have a right to have congruence of provision and opportunity across the UK, it is imperative to the health of the entire nation, and anything less than this will create almost impermeable swathes of inequality and conflict across the UK.

The protests that have been taking place involve people from every walk of life, of all ages. The discontent is not specific to any one area, sector, or demographic; people are realising en masse the devastating impact of decisions being made now and their capability to realign them with more democratic and representative modes of governance and their administration.

These decisions undermine our core human rights, our integrity as an ‘enlightened’ nation and a basic sense of morality. Akin to the Thatcher years, profits and profiteering are a priority placed before all else at the expense of the masses for the benefit of the privileged. This is survival of the richest in action, an unsustainable and perverse revision of Darwin, intended to serve the positions of those in power, remove the viable forums by which people can effectively raise their concerns and lower the standard of living for the masses, enslaving people to earning a wage for a meagre existence; paying tax which will then be spent subsidising an unregulated and fundamentally flawed banking system and absurd defense budgets. 


The decisions being made and the policies being implemented across the country do not best serve the UK; they undermine our human rights and are totally counterproductive in terms of the tangible impact that they are having and will have on their respective sectors. Only direct action and audible public outcry will bring this ‘condemnation’ to an end, and raise the impact and nature of the decisions which have and are being made, to the attention of international media and human rights associations and ambassadors. Politicians and bankers should live in fear of a cull, should they fail to listen to the opposition to their actions and policies.

These are opinions based on research, all the information is out there. This is our medium, our means to communicate, to connect and to share our solidarity against the intellectual and financial impoverishment which the Coalition is inexorably attempting to weave into every aspect of UK life today. 

There is concensus and a real capacity to make positive change through our actions, networks and communications. Raise your voice, not your fist. 

Ruinous and reckless Coalition OUT, valuing integrity over profit IN.

Please feel free to download, print and post or email (to your local MP, Downing Street or Whitehall) the accompanying image as a means to protest the Pig’s Ear Politics we are currently experiencing courtesy of the Coalition. Over and Out.

Image and Text by Interdisciplinary Artist, Rebecca Mellor –  


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