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Entertaining Your Nation – Phoebe Lacey-Freeman

13 Sep 2021

My name is Phoebe, I’m a recent theatre graduate from Wales. At the moment, I’m just just starting out with some freelancing work but I’m hoping to develop my skills and get into theatre directing or production. I am passionate about telling stories or facilitating others to be able to tell their stories. I feel there is a present fear of being forgotten as a creative and I wanted to take part in Raise Your Voice after seeing that politicians were branding creative courses as “dead-end”. I feel there is a lot of unnecessary stigma surrounding the arts despite the revenue and acclaim that it provides. I wanted people to know that no matter your professional choices you matter and the contributions you make are important. I wrote my piece to reflect on my own experiences, as well as those of the people around me in the arts. I wanted to get other people involved so I also edited an audio together of various voices of my friends, family and co-workers. I want to thank them for their involvement particularly as this piece had to be done across technology rather than in person.

Entertaining ‘Your’ Nation

Can we just stop for a second and really think,
What are we doing for the arts on the brink?
Are we speaking enough? Are we shouting out loud?
Are we keeping our hope and standing up proud?

We are branded and labelled with every name under the sun,
We keep on being creative when the odds are zero to none.
Our courses are “dead-end”, our careers “unviable”
Supporting our causes is not justifiable,
But what more can we do, when our government won’t listen?
Who brush off our plight like some piece of fiction.

We are struggling, yes, our shows are delayed,
Our venues are shuttered, we are struggling to get paid.
The stigma around us pushes us further down the pile,
We are not your priority, we haven’t been for a while.

It took a pandemic to support those in trouble,
To think of our needs, to consider our struggles,
But will that disappear once the pandemic wanes?
Will you stop listening, and block us out once again.

No sector is safe, no job is infallible,
We are all artists, our skills are all valuable.
But just because our tools may look different to yours,
You don’t have the right to say our paths are less secure.
The pandemic has shown that the future’s unforeseeable,
So why chose a job just because it’s believable?
To those who think our plans are simply impossible,
We’ll take on each challenge, each trial, each obstacle.

You tell us we’ll be left with nothing but debt,
But we don’t want to live a life of regret,
Where we were persuaded against our future ambitions,
And didn’t make these choices of our own volition.
We’re no less capable, our intelligence should not be questioned,
On the basis we chose a creative profession.

We are viable, we are here to stay,
You take our funding, our courses, our livelihood away.
You discourage us from our passions and tell us of “better choices”
But you’re just afraid of us raising our voices,
Of convincing the public that our decisions are sound,
Working for an industry worth over a hundred billion pounds.

Can you not see that you’re crippling our sector?
You call us a dead end, you should be our protector.
You tell us to re educate, reschool or retrain,
But you forget you’re marginalizing the creative brains.
The ones who live streamed to distract the population,
Who kept creating content to immerse all generations,
Who workshopped to protect mental health and well being,
Who adapted their skills instead of just fleeing.

It’s the directors, performers, producers and writers,
Storytellers and artists, dancers and designers.
Who came to our aid when we were all locked inside,
And did what they could with spirit and pride.
You can’t program creativity, you can’t forgo innovation,
You need us to keep on entertaining your nation.

Consider your choices and the barriers you create,
Our contributions are worthy, that’s not up for debate.
We love what we do, there’s no need to condemn,
We don’t fit in your boxes, we think outside of them,
So, don’t forget we are here, we have so much to give,
We’ll continue providing the escapism that so many need to live.

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