Arts against cuts

Submitted by Matthew on 26 January, 2011 - 2:09

The Arts Against Cuts collective is a group of students, lecturers, artists, cultural workers and those interested in creative resistance, organising in a non-hierarchical structure against both the cuts and the ever increasing use of the arts and culture as a tool of ideological and political control.

Since being set up around three months ago a number of actions have been facilitated by the group, and we will continue to do that indefinitely.

So far we have had a large number of very diverse participants and always welcome anyone to our open weekly meetings. There is no single person or group steering the collective and anyone wishing to join in has just as much ability to shape the actions as those involved from day one.

We have co-ordinated a number of direct actions at a variety of events organised by various anti-cuts groups. At our recent “Direct Weekend” we facilitated space for Southwark Save Our Services alongside members of the PCS union and are actively looking to work with groups that are involved in similar struggles. Our next weekend of planning and action will build for the TUC demo on 26 March. We’re hoping to develop a strong visual and creative presence on and around the day.

We are specifically titled “Arts Against Cuts” and not “Against Arts Cuts” for a reason. One of the reasons this grassroots collective has sprung up is due to the void that the conservative Save the Arts campaign left; one of their phrases “Cut us but don’t kill us” is indicative of the politically lazy and ideologically weak, insular campaign they have run.

We will campaign against any and all cuts, putting particular energy and focus into those that directly relate to culture.

I personally think the role of creativity within struggle is extremely important; there is a long standing relationship between the aesthetic and emancipatory politics. It is important that the arts are not shunned to a periphery of political engagement, or felt to be something left aside until after a revolution has taken place. We need to ingrain that which we are fighting for into the very core of our practice and ensure we challenge both the role of art within neo-liberalism and also within our own organisations.

• This article is abridged from a longer interview, which can be read online at:

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