The other day, my sister showed me this video by David Shrigley called 'An important message about the arts'. This short animation is the cartoonist's protest about the proposed 25% cuts to art institutions in the UK. Over 100 other artists including Damien Hirst (whose work 'A Thousand Years' is featured in the video - the one with the rotting pig's head swarming with flies and maggots), David Hockney, Anthony Caro, Howard Hodgkin, Anish Kapoor and Tracy Emin (who makes a brief appearance as a fire fighter) have joined 'a national consortium of over 2,000 arts organisations and artists dedicated to working together and finding new ways to support the arts in the UK'. Known as the Save the Arts campaign, its aim is to generate a lengthy petition to send to the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, which will show just how important the arts are to Britain and how damaging a reduction in funding will be to our culture, society and economy. If we're trying to drag ourselves out of the pit of recession surely taking money out of the very institutions that can bring more in is profoundly counterproductive? As Strigley explains, art institutions will tighten their belts (we all understand the importance of emergency services and education) but 25% cuts 'will strike a massive hammer blow' to Britain's cultural economy which in the long term will lead to greater unemployment and a reduction in financial gains from tourism. Aside from the benefits to our economy, art institutions entertain us, excite and educate us and they provide a refuge, an often free refuge from a world which hangs beneath a cloud of restraint and moderation.
Shrigley's video is the first of a string of works by leading artists to raise awareness about the campaign and if the rest are anything like this one, I can't wait. 'It's bloody brilliant, that's what it is son'.
Check out their blog and sign their petition at http://savethearts-uk.blogspot.com/