Guardian: Funding Artists Could Save Us from Covid-19

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t Ken; According to The Guardian, the lack of support for the creative community is harming the development of our most effective weapon against unexpected situations like Covid-19 – the arts.

We need to stop punishing artists: their creative thinking will help us out of this crisis

Esther Anatolitis
Tue 28 Jul 2020 14.02 AEST

What’s needed now is an ambitious national vision that invests in arts and culture comprehensively

As everyone keeps telling us: we’re in unprecedented times. And unprecedented times call for unprecedented thinking.

What’s the No 1 skillset needed for the workforce and economy of the future? A wealth of global research, from the World Economic Forum to PWCDeloitteMcKinseyNestaHarvard, and even the Australian government’s Bureau of Communications and Arts Research agree: it’s creativity.

Why have we been so unprepared to deal with Covid-19’s challenges? Because “we really lack creative imagination”, Osterholm told Sales. Despite repeated warnings, he continued, we’re told by politicians that “no one could have envisioned – or so they say – all the constellation of things that have happened here: not just a virus crossing from an animal to a human, but the worldwide transmission, the impact that it has on healthcare, the fact that it also shuts down our global economy”.

If “no one could have envisioned” the inevitable set of possibilities that experts have been outlining in detail, then contemporary governance is in big trouble. Because the capacity to envision a complex set of possibilities is fundamental to good governance.

It’s also, of course, the fundamental skillset of the artist.

Read more:

I value art, some of my friends and business associates are artists, and I love what learning a bit of art has done for my life. I thoroughly recommend everyone do an art course, just for the experience. But this demand for extra government assistance to rescue those who are allegedly society’s foremost problem solvers is just absurd.

Right now artists have a captive audience of millions of really bored people stuck in lockdown, staying at home with nothing but an internet connection, a regular payment from the government and endless free time. Surely there is some kind of opportunity right now for truly creative artists to reach out to their audience and make some money.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Shoki Kaneda
July 28, 2020 2:13 pm

It is appalling that people actually believe this tripe.

Dr. Bob
July 28, 2020 2:18 pm

COVID19 is the supreme example of “Never let a good crisis go to waste!” There is no end of the spin you can place on any investment that couldn’t include Covid19 related benefits.

Mark Pawelek
Reply to  Dr. Bob
July 28, 2020 3:27 pm

“Never let a good crisis go to waste!”
<- is a slogan from last century. In today's world misanthropes can spin a new crisis out of nothing before you can say why the last one isn't. Inundated with so many fake crises we have a superabundance. Knee-deep in crisis, we cannot but let them go to waste.

Reply to  Mark Pawelek
July 28, 2020 6:17 pm

Funding everybody and their uncle has got to stop. Especially “artists” who think pissing on a religious scene is art. Throw a monkey wrench in the printing press… now!

July 28, 2020 2:45 pm

This is a real stretch, funding the Arts could have saved us? Totally ridiculous.

I did read in message boards long before China travel was banned some posters urging that the borders be closed because of Covid. They were regarded as right wing but in the end were correct.

Kevin kilty
July 28, 2020 2:51 pm

No doubt the arts and humanities community has many creative and talented people. However, because the barrier to entrance into this community is so low, it is also filled with people who believe anything and can do nothing. The best test to separate these two classes is to force them to make a living for themselves — no government funding.

Reply to  Kevin kilty
July 28, 2020 11:16 pm

Precisely. The quality of art is inversely proportional to the amount of government subsidy.

July 28, 2020 2:52 pm

What we really need are more Governor Cuomo’s. If he was in charge in every US state, we would be free of this thing already (and down about 5 million elderly but who’s counting?). If you can take out most of those at risk early on, herd immunity is much easier to achieve.

Reply to  rbabcock
July 28, 2020 3:05 pm

Planned Parent a.k.a. retirement rites a.k.a. selective-senior… perchance one-senior.

Reply to  rbabcock
July 28, 2020 3:08 pm

….. not to mention the savings in Medicare and Social Security which, because of their brilliance, they can then award to themselves.

Reply to  rbabcock
July 29, 2020 8:45 am

Big Picture question (two years ago) for China … “how the hell are we going to deal with 3 billion aging, non contributing members of our socialist utopia?”

“Hey” says Wang Huning, “I’ve got an idea … It’s a twofer too … it solves our upcoming issue and really screws up those idiots in the U.S.. I’ll follow up with our researchers and come back next month with all the details”

July 28, 2020 2:57 pm

The arts and crafts mafia at it again. There used to be this phrase ‘starving artist’, it’s making a comeback.

The fundamental skillset of the artist is the sticking out of the hand for more government money.

Why have we been so unprepared to deal with Covid-19’s challenges? Because “we really lack creative imagination”. Yes a good old virus pantomime would have solved everything.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  DPP
July 28, 2020 3:45 pm

A Starving Artist simply needs to embrace the good work they are doing to combat the “Obesity Endemic(tm)”

What people need to remember that anything you do that doesn’t directly keep you alive or allow you to earn an income is a hobby.

I have hobbies. My day job pays for them.

Reply to  DPP
July 28, 2020 4:00 pm

… starving artist …

A BFA is the one degree where you’ll probably make less money than if you had no degree at all. I am truly grateful that I have little musical or artistic talent. I was never tempted to try to make a living as any kind of artist.

Reply to  DPP
July 28, 2020 6:50 pm

According to the woke, a dancer is just as qualified as a doctor to perform heart surgery.
They both went to school, and they both really, really care.

Ian Coleman
July 28, 2020 2:57 pm

The Arts are already lavishly funded. The two main art forms of our time are movies and tv shows, and they are funded on an industrial scale, and reap billions of dollars in sales every year.

Then there is popular music. Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga and Justin Beiber are getting paid. Popular novelists do very well. The Arts are doing fine.

Of course, nobody makes a living any more writing and publishing poetry. Name one currently prominent painter. Who is the best concert pianist in the world right now? I don’t know. Many art forms have become obsolete, and it does no good trying to find audiences for them.

Reply to  Ian Coleman
July 28, 2020 11:22 pm

Previous generations had Beethoven, Mozart, and Schubert. We have Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift. I weep.

July 28, 2020 2:59 pm

Let’s all join hands* and sing Kumbaya also. Sheeesh.
What a bunch of namby-pambys.

The world needs more R. Lee Ermey Drill Sgt. therapy.

* – virtually of course, since we all namby pamby on this virus stuff.

Carl Friis-Hansen
July 28, 2020 3:23 pm

I would prefer supporting Fox News rather than con artists.

Here is a rather new update from Fox about the schools, Sweden and COVID-19:

I have had a busy day here in Sweden sheering sheep. Neither the sheep nor I have ever had face mask on and we are all well and alive.

July 28, 2020 3:29 pm

More victims. Another rung on the Intersectionality ladder.

Serge Wright
July 28, 2020 3:31 pm

This is same creative thinking that is behind the recent mass riots, trying to re-write history by toppling statues and calling for a dismantling of the police to create a total breakdown of society with mob rule. And now they want us to pay them to dream up more of this stuff ?. The only art being practiced by these people is of the BS variety.

Mike McHenry
July 28, 2020 3:51 pm

I’ve read many quotes from the Guardian here and elsewhere. Do staff writers for the Guardian smoke a couple of joints before writing this stuff?

Clarky of Oz
July 28, 2020 3:59 pm

Down under we have a well recognised art form that I think is what this article is referring to. The practitioners of this art form are known as BS Artists

Sweet Old Bob
July 28, 2020 4:03 pm

“What’s the No 1 skillset needed for the workforce and economy of the future?”
There isn’t a single skillset ….
STEM isn’t singular ….

July 28, 2020 4:04 pm

Eric: “Surely there is some kind of opportunity right now for truly creative artists to reach out to their audience and make some money.”

Is that not precisely what the silly billy (sorry: silly goose) is trying to do?

Mike McHenry
July 28, 2020 4:06 pm

In the fine arts creating fiction is acceptable. In science it isn’t.

Serge Wright
July 28, 2020 4:10 pm

“We know that for every $1m in turnover the arts and entertainment sector creates nine jobs, as opposed to just one in mining or 0.36 in oil and gas extraction.”

This sentence very nicely demonstrates their lack of economic understanding. Without oil and gas there would be no economy and therefore no arts. Also, the jobs they mention used to produce the oil and gas are only the overheads of production. The real measure is in the productive output of the energy, which ultimately produces all jobs in society, a fact they completely ignore.

Reply to  Serge Wright
July 29, 2020 12:57 am

Look at it in terms of productivity. One person in mining creates 1mil turnover; 0.36 in gas and oil extraction creates 1mil; it takes 9 people in arts to create 1mil turnover. If we were to make a living by arts alone we would be at least 9 times poorer than we are.

Kevin kilty
July 28, 2020 4:22 pm

This is unlikely to show up anywhere, but seems strangely connected to this thread. There is a story in Time Magazine (07/22/2020) about how the National Parks being currently open to the public, but having no staff as they are all working from home (how does a park ranger work from home?), are being trashed by the public. There are all sorts of excuses about what, why, where, who, and how this has happened, but the author of the piece blames Trump, of course, also blames Native Americans because they wanted things closed very quickly because of their vulnerability to the pandemic, but then it also has this weird discussion about a “Bear Whisperer”, a person who apparently has a repertoire of incantations to prevent bears from attacking hikers, being among those defunded by Trump. Meanie! Meanwhile there is the usual carping about racist white people…

I am stunned to learn of the apparently paid position of a “Bear Whisperer”, but if one allows wide and indiscriminate funding of the arts, what will result is a lot of “Bear Whisperer” equivalents.

Reply to  Kevin kilty
July 28, 2020 5:11 pm

For the most part, many government workers are getting paid to “work from home.”

HD Hoese
July 28, 2020 4:28 pm

Sigma Xi, the National Honor Research Society, is way ahead of the curve. “2020 SIGMA XI STEM ART AND FILM FESTIVAL Call for Submissions ”

July 28, 2020 4:37 pm

Is this a photo of goalkeeper, David De Gea, praying for his Manchester United and Spain future?

July 28, 2020 4:52 pm

The Manchester Fish and Chip Wrapper is going head to head with the BBC these days in presenting the public with daft ideas with a lunatic twist.

July 28, 2020 4:58 pm

Where is Sir Les Patterson, Minister For The Yartz, when we desperately need him?

July 28, 2020 4:58 pm

High level, original creativity is a prime property required of the research scientist. It is creativity about complex and difficult problems, orders of magnitude more challenging than shuffling words and phrases to seek fame within the arty set.
The arty words used above demonstrate the difference.
It would be acceptable if the multitudes of shallow thinkers just left science alone, but no, harm is happening all the time as scientists are getting crippled, unable to produce straight science for fear of unintended offence and punishment of the latest form, the cancel culture. Before that, we had the need to link research to global warming genuflecture and so on.
Almost all of these stupid social restraints on science were invented by arty types with little comprehension of how good, hard science operates.
Clean up your own houses first, you interfering arty types! Geoff S

Hoyt Clagwell
July 28, 2020 5:02 pm

It occurs to me that I can’t recall an American liberal ever believing in anything so strongly that they would offer to pay for it themselves.

Joel Snider
July 28, 2020 5:02 pm

Well, I will say, the collectivist mentality is terribly bereft or creativity – when was the last time you saw something original out of Hollywood?

July 28, 2020 5:49 pm

Good God!

I confess that I was very involved with the arts, as an artist, for decades, and this is the most ridiculous, impractical heap of crap that I have ever read. It gives some artists a bad name.

Strike that — I disavow ever having been associated with the arts. They are dead to me, if this is the current outlook

July 28, 2020 5:53 pm

Speaking, …………… as an ……….. “artist”, ……….. delusion is the new beauty.

Stupid is the new intelligence.

Masks are the new religion.

Hypocrisy is the new integrity.

Steve Oregon
July 28, 2020 5:53 pm

Woke means every problem, real, not so much or thoroughly contrived, can be solved by increased funding for some murky progressive notion.

Bemused Bill
July 28, 2020 6:10 pm

Wow! Just think, we have the answer right here all along, just get the artists to fix it, what were we thinking?
I suggest the artists set up a think-tank and sell their brilliant ideas….problem fixed. Market forces rule, if you have a great idea, sell it to us. If you want up front payment for nothing, then that is a different matter, the answer to payment for nothing is, fuck off. That’s your market forces at work.
Show us your brilliant ideas, I am breathless with anticipation.

July 28, 2020 6:49 pm

So we are going to turn to starving artists in order to find a way to fix the climate models?

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  MarkW
July 29, 2020 3:29 pm

Don’t get me wrong, by the way. My wife and I are regulars at the opera, ballet, symphony, live theater, and other live events. We both miss them greatly. We also missed baseball (go Cubs go!) until just recently. MLB has been very innovative in bringing that back – and as a for-profit enterprise, one would expect that.

I know that nothing is less of a motivator for artists than direct financial reward, but they do have to live. One would think that they would turn their creativity to coming up with ways to do that, and perhaps this is it: hitting us up for cash on the off-chance that one of them would come up with a way of “solving” the pandemic.

Michael S. Kelly
July 28, 2020 7:13 pm

The person in the cover photo strikes me as a performance artist of some kind. If so, it’s a poor example. They are (with the exception of musicians) some of the least creative people around. They do what some writer or choreographer told them to do; perhaps very well, but with no originality.

That is unless the Covid-19 pandemic can be solved with…interpretative dance.

Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
July 28, 2020 8:19 pm

To symbolize the plight of the current era, I propose to do an installation piece using corpses of people whose death was attributed to COVID-19. I will glue the corpses, individually, to appropriately sized plywood panels, which I will call “dead-body panels”, and then I will suspend these panels at various heights, using strong hanging wire, to fashion a mobile hanging from the ceiling. Each panel will also have a large chime attached, to serve as a bell in a giant dead-body wind chime, for which a large fan will provide the necessary air currents to cause them all to ring. The resultant pleasant sounds will, thus, be juxtaposed with the horror of death, eliciting memories of past times in the face of a current crisis of fear.

Okay, that’s my National Endowment for the Arts grant opening paragraph. What d’ya think?

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Robert Kernodle
July 28, 2020 11:00 pm

That’s a slam dunk, Robert.

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
July 29, 2020 5:45 pm


If I was in charge of other peoples money, you would be first on my list of proposed recipients.

July 28, 2020 7:22 pm

I am trying to imagine someone, similar to Marcel Marceau, demonstrating how to beat COVID-19.

Pat from kerbob
July 28, 2020 7:51 pm

The arts as they currently exist, exist because of the leisure society powered by hydrocarbons.
Before the industrial revolution the large majority in all countries were farmers, farming small plots with large families. Zero time for Arts, as a result the only artists were supported by the small wealthy elite.
I grew up in western sask in a small town, born 1965.
There used to be a farm with 6-8 kids on every section of land, and towns every 7 miles as limited by transportation technology, ox cart.
Now 10 sections is a small family farm, most of those town are long gone
And everybody crowded into the cities
And sneering at those living in the country even though with out those sparse country people the entire web of roads pipelines power lines food production etc would collapse in days

And poof goes the arts

If we revert to subsistence farming the millions involved in fashion will die off immediately

And they aren’t smart enough to realize it

Adrian Mann
July 29, 2020 12:36 am

You couldn’t want for a clearer demonstration of a collective lack of creative imagination than what is shown in the vast majority of comments here.
Obviously, any government funding for anything must be stopped immediately – that’s Communism! Marxist-Leninist propaganda! The entire world must follow the highly successful US model – Guns! Flags! Russians! Idiots! Liberty!

Matthew Sykes
July 29, 2020 12:49 am

90% of art is self indulgent crap and I wouldnt give it a penny.

Reply to  Matthew Sykes
July 29, 2020 7:08 pm

As a former arteest devotee, I agree.

July 29, 2020 4:01 am

Love the Left. If not for them there simply would not be a Silly Season this year.

Yep, the Black Death was finally cured by injecting three operas, two concerts and a poem into every city in Europe.

July 29, 2020 4:26 am

Weird … it is 4 AM and I’m thinking, “Well OK then! Whether they’re funded or not, The Creatives of the Art world should be brimming over with deliciously avant gard ideas … right now …. right?”


In other words, no matter what the time of crisis, it is not some anodyne ”funding” that powers those-with-the-answers to emit those brilliant flashes; they are tried, and if they work… well, they catch fire. Right?

And this is where I am listening, intently.
No fire. No mass of good ideas. No spontaneous combustion. No nothing.

Sorry, folks.
Nothing to see, move along.
Drop your billions at the door on the way out!

July 29, 2020 5:18 am

Why don’t they employ some of that creative thinking to get themselves out of the problem?

Hardly seems like a great advertisement for their powers of creativity if they need government handouts to survive.

Reply to  Dean
July 29, 2020 6:04 pm

++ simple clean logic.

Rod Evans
July 29, 2020 9:24 am

The most creative idea the arts and their champion spokes paper can come up with is ” Give us some money”
Now that is what I call deep philosophical thinking right there. Very creative so arty.
Where would we possibly be, without such radical concepts as begging who could ever come up with such a novel idea as that other than the artists?

Andy Pattullo
July 29, 2020 7:44 pm

I am an artist and a scientist with university training in both. One of my lectures is “Art, Science and Models” Where I explain the difference between art and science and that models, until they are validated and show predictive skill, are just hypothesis – more art than science. The point of the lecture is to demonstrate the massive failings of human progress that occurred when leaders allowed belief and imagination to overrule the principles of science (lysenkoism, Maoist agricultural reform, eugenics and the holocaust, millions of children dead from malaria because of superstitious fear of DDT, burning of “witches”, Spanish inquisition…). Creativity is a fine trait but, if not restrained by the rules of rational thought and scientific analysis, it is more often a source of disaster than success. I love art, but I don’t use it to solve problems any more than I use calculus to paint and draw (actually I don’t use calculus to do anything as I forgot all of the principles long ago).

%d bloggers like this: