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We Kept You Smiling During The Pandemic

“Our government has given up on us”
“Our jobs are just as vital as non-creative ones!”

These comments are just part of what has been a surge of online backlash towards an advertisement from 2019 , in which a ballerina named Fatima is told her next job 'could be in cyber'.

This was a campaign encouraging people from all walks of life to think about a career in cyber security. The ad, which has been recently removed, was believed to be a new release from the Government within the context of comments made last week by Chancellor Rishi Sunak about how all workers needed to adapt and adjust to 'the new reality'.

“Rishi Sunak’s commentary that artists should simply 'retrain' is dehumanising and ignorant of how much the arts industry is a valued sector of both our culture and economy”

For people working in the arts in Northern Ireland, the ad's caption to 'Rethink. Reboot. Reskill.' hit a nerve, as over the past few months they feel like their skills and talents have gone unvalued and even ignored and their futures remain uncertain.

“It really is apparent that the government don’t realise or care how vital creative jobs are to literally everything from watching the TV, to listening to music, the property market, adverts for anything...”

Elyse Kennedy, a photographer from Belfast is just one of the many people who saw this image emerge on the internet.

For recent graduates of art degrees this advertisement is just deflating. This STEM vs arts debate has been a reoccurring theme throughout years in education for many students.

Fine art graduate Josephine, had this to say on the matter:

“The arts are hurting. We are the backbone of society. We were the people that helped you keep smiling during the pandemic through film, TV entertainment, music, virtual art exhibitions etc. We are undermined of our intelligence and abilities and it has got to stop.”

With uncertainty surrounding another lockdown in the coming weeks and months, the reemergence of this advertisement has probably come at the worst time for many as it is a reminder of just how little this industry is valued by the government.

Josephine is not the only one who feels that the arts had a large effect on people's mindsets throughout lockdown,

“Our artists are the backbone of culture and entertainment, which the lockdown showed, many people would suffer mentally without.”

Makeup artist Abigail Vance who has ranked up a large online following on Instagram and Tik Tok has similarly strong views.

“As a makeup artist, I’ve spent years refining my craft, building my business as an entrepreneur and expanding my media outreach. The advertisement not only shows how little the arts industry is respected in the UK, especially as during the pandemic we’re left suffering financially with minimal help, but also how abused it is.”

Artists, actors, musicians and people involved in all aspects of the arts and media have had to fight throughout their lives to have their talents appreciated and for many this advertisement is just another motive for them to keep up this fight!

“As someone who will soon be graduating with a second arts degree, the impact of the pandemic has caused me to adjust my current job pursuits on a temporary basis because I know that there is a day where the arts will return and be in demand again” - Niamh McLaughlin.

Jordan Doherty is a 22 year old freelance journalist with a Bachelors degree in Journalism and English. She is interested in writing environmental and human interest pieces.

#JordanDoherty #Coronavirus

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