Opinion: We need the arts. Stop the budget cuts

22 Oct
Posted in: Features
Should musical theatre be prescribed on the NHS?

The joys of musical theatre and other art forms are important for the nation's emotional as well as its economic heath. So, for goodness' sake, Prime Minister, keep hands off the arts budget, demands Willy-Naomi, care of our friends at the Musical Theatre Appreciation Society...


The Arts are experiencing massive budget cuts with many local theatres slowly being shut down as a result. (The plea to the right was posted on the Musical Theatre Appreciation Society's Facebook group by Tony Monblat.) There seems to be an unwritten order of importance in this world, with the arts unfortunately sitting comfortably on the lower spectrum.

It was not too long ago that the artists of social media went crazy as, on Sky News, commentator Tim Walker shunned the sheer dedication and effort invested into the performing arts industry on national TV! I distinctly remember his careless interpretation of what it meant to be a performer ‘..anyone can belt out a song’. That video can be found here. Actor Russell Tovey, who has now apologised, was also widely criticised for suggesting drama students ‘prance around’.

Unfortunately, these opinions are not uncommon. It is not pivotal for everyone to like the theatre or a musical show. All of course, is subjective. But to not enjoy is not the same as not understanding the effort behind it. To not understand the careers formed through it. Or the passion many feel for it. But above all – why we need it!

The arts have many benefits. They offer an artistic escape in a world riddled with politics. They allow a sense of togetherness. A full house is not only beneficial to the performers but to an audience too. A capacity audience alters the atmosphere positively. United laughter and thunderous applause help to build up that great theatre experience. For many performers, it is only through the process of performing as someone else they they learn to be themselves.

As a regular to the West End, I honestly couldn’t imagine my life without the arts. The surge of happiness I feel watching, directing or operating a show cannot be replicated or found anywhere else.

There is that saying “not everybody can be doctors” when justifying why we have performers. But truthfully, a much-needed adjustment in my opinion would be “not everybody can be performers”. No, we may not possess the skills to perform surgery. But there is a healing process that takes place when watching a show...