To say the arts have been important in lockdown is an understatement. They have provided us with the escapism we need in a time where we would rather be anywhere other than here. So, when Fatima donned her ballet shoes and was told to retrain in cyber by the government, people got annoyed.
The advert, which featured a picture of Fatima putting her ballet shoes on, was captioned ‘Fatima’s next job could be in cyber (she just doesn’t know it yet)’, alongside the words ‘Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.’ It was backed by the government and awkwardly released on the same day that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports announced details of their £1.57bn arts support package, previously disclosed in July.
In response to the government’s tone deaf advert, poet Pat Edwards wrote a poem called ‘Re-think. Re-skill. Re-boot.’, using the arts to prove how important the arts really are (apparently some needed this explaining to them). Memes suggesting politicians should retrain followed, and tweets such as comedian Dara O Briain’s (‘Anyway, I hear Fatima now runs the world’s largest online Ballet school, so she’s doing fine, actually’) appeared.
It is (sadly) very easy for the arts to get overlooked, with many forgetting that the things that got us through lockdown were the arts themselves. From Spotify playlists to binge-watching Netflix shows, the arts have made lockdown a lot easier.
Musicians, much like authors and directors, have provided us with an alternative world to find escapism in. Spotify and Apple Music offer playlists tailored to mood, such as ‘Happy’ and even a section dedicated to lockdown called ‘At Home’. Independent users have also created playlists called ‘Lockdown’ and ‘Lockdown 2.0’, showing the impact the pandemic has had on the arts, but also the impact the arts have had on our lockdown life.
On Netflix, Bridgerton became one of the most successful series on the platform, with many immersing themselves in the romantic setting of 19th century Britain. With more time to binge-watch, whether it was the ballgowns or string version of ‘thank u, next’, the popularity of Bridgerton at its release in Christmas 2020 was definitely helped by the lockdown.
Meanwhile on TV, artist Grayson Perry ran his ‘art club’ which writer Lucy Mangan called ‘a heartening, lockdown-era tonic’. The show was interactive, and viewers could send in their art to fit each week’s theme. Last year nearly ten thousand people submitted their artwork, and due to its popularity, it is returning with another series. At a time with little structure, the comfort of a Friday night slot alongside other artists and watchers brings some form of warmth.
The Guardian even has a section titled ‘Lockdown culture: The best arts and entertainment during self-isolation’, showing the impact lockdown has had on the arts, but also the great significance the arts has had on our lives in lockdown.
A new culture has arisen from how our lives have been affected by the pandemic.
So Fatima, you put on those ballet shoes, carry on what you’re doing and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.