Panic! comes at a critical point when our rather lucrative cultural sector (it represents 5% of the British economy valued at £76.9bn) seems to be losing its maverick sparkle. What impact do housing costs, benefits changes, higher education fees, reduced arts provision in schools, unpaid internships and low salaries have on the arts in the UK?
Many of those working in the arts describe a growing sense of crisis. Music writer and broadcaster Stuart Maconie comes close to describing the situation “The current economic climate is returning the practice of art to what it was 300 years ago – a rich fellow’s diversion, a pleasant recreation for those who can afford it, rather than the cultural imperative it should be.”
Panic! is a ten-day programme of music, film and live debate bringing together people from across the political spectrum to reflect on findings from a new national survey. The Panic! survey, circulated widely to those working in the creative and cultural sector, will present a snapshot of who is working in the sector and how they got there. We will uncover the social background of those working in the arts from how their higher education was funded, to where they can afford to live. Panic! aims to encourage government, cultural institutions and businesses to reflect on their part in a situation where just 18.1% of Britain’s cultural workforce were brought up by parents who did traditionally working-class jobs, as compared to 34.7% in the country as a whole).
Accompanying Panic! will be a visual campaign conceived by British Art Director Peter Saville to exemplify the current climate. Launching in October 2015 the campaign will feature iconic faces from theatre, film, TV, art, architecture, design, literature, fashion and music tagged with the occupation of their parent, raising the question – could these important cultural players have any chance of success in 2015?
In a series of live debates we will discuss the state of pop, the future of London, the economic value of a diverse cultural sector, and the impact of debt on creativity. Alongside this we present a programme of live music and film reminding us of our great UK art heritage. At the British Art Show artist Ahmet Ogut will present Day After Debt to address rising costs of education and the impact of resulting debt on the lives of young people.
Panic! partners Create, the Barbican, Goldsmiths University and The Guardian will offer work placements for twenty young people to demonstrate the huge positive impact young people from a range of backgrounds can have on organisations.
On the launch of the report Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth, Vikki Heywood, Chairman of the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value (made-up of some of the UK’s most powerful art world figures) said “The government and the cultural and creative industries need to take a united and coherent approach that guarantees equal access for everyone to a rich cultural education and the opportunity to live a creative life. There are barriers and inequalities in Britain today that prevent this from being a universal human right. This is bad for business and bad for society.”
Panic! aims to galvanise support across the cultural sector to support the young, future heroes of art. Join the debate!
With thanks to Jochen Braun for his portrait of Grayson Perry, Nick Thompson for his portrait of Thomas Turgoose and Donald Maclellan for his portrait of Samantha Morton; and to all the artists involved in the campaign.
Panic! is a Create project, delivered in partnership with the Barbican, the Guardian, Goldsmiths University and British Art Show 8, with additional support from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.