This afternoon the Welsh National Opera took over Twitter to lead a debate around the question ‘will austerity kill culture?’ as part of the BBC’s Get Creative campaign.
WNO CEO and artistic director, David Pountney kicked off the one hour takeover with the statement “Culture is not the answer to everything, but life without culture is worth nothing”.
Throughout the discussion a number of key points were raised in regard to the challenges that face the arts as a result of reductions in funding, and the value of culture in today’s society.
A key area of debate was the effect of austerity on cultural organisations and the artists themselves:
There were also concerns about how reduced funding as a result of austerity also impacts on people’s access to the arts and culture:
However, Pountney was keen to assert that the value of culture should not be merely reduced to debates over funding, but rather should focus on its role in enriching our lives both on an individual and societal level:
Today’s debate highlighted some of the challenges that face the arts and culture in a time of budget cuts and austerity. However, there still seems to be an underlining optimism and belief in the strength of the arts to prevail as a positive influence in society.
WNO state on their website that they hope today’s #killculture debate ‘is just the start of an ongoing conversation dialogue between arts organisations, audiences and the general public about the value of the arts.’
The role of social media in facilitating this dialogue should not be overlooked. As demonstrated today, social media such as Twitter has opened up new opportunities for a variety of voices across academia, industry and beyond to be heard and take part in a wider conversation. Furthermore, if the value of culture is to be defined by our own experience and relationship with it as individuals within a society, then surely it is important that discussions around issues such as these are as open and accessible as possible.