As arts & cultural organisations up and down the country continue to digest Arts Council England’s new national portfolio announcement from last Friday, which brought relief for many after an anxious wait but also saw over 100 organisations missing out on funding, I wanted to share something from the weekend that for me was the epitome of why the arts are so important.
I experienced the Luxmaralis light and sound show, ‘Space Voyager’, which ran every night last week at Bristol Cathedral.
The architecture of the building provided a stunning backdrop for the projections, taking the audience on a breathtaking tour of the universe and space, and offered incredible acoustics for the haunting soundtrack. The hundreds of visitors snaking in a long queue around College Green were transfixed when they entered. People of all ages filled the cathedral, mesmerised by the beautiful imagery being projected above and around them. The whole thing had an ethereal quality about it.
But beyond the sheer beauty and creativity, what also struck me was the diversity and inclusivity that it enabled. It opened up the religious space to people who for one reason or another probably wouldn’t think about visiting and made it a welcoming space for everyone to come and enjoy a spectacular shared moment.
That’s what art does. It creates beauty and joy, brings people together, boosts our wellbeing and lifts spirits, and gets people out of their homes taking in new places and experiences.
I consider myself privileged that I get to work with a number of amazing arts and cultural organisations, and I love the purpose and values that drive them and seeing how the impact of their efforts literally changes lives.
We have to continue to find ways to protect, invest in and champion the arts, even through economically challenging and turbulent times.
As Darren Henley, Arts Council England’s chief executive, said after Friday’s announcement: “We are in tough times, but we must remember creativity brings with it extraordinary dividends… Everyone deserves to enjoy the benefits it brings.”