The whole arts conversation, with local government cuts, National Lottery funding reductions, etc., is as always quite a live issue. Working with creative people across many sectors, I hear lots of comments and discussions about how we get the public on our side, especially when talking about protecting government funding. Better people than I are writing thought provoking and bullish pieces about the situation.
I also know people who say they aren't interested in the arts because they don't go to the theatre or to galleries and museums. However, they listen to all kinds of music, go to the cinema, watch television, play computer games, sit on furniture, upgrade to the coolest looking phone, read picture books to their children, buy clothes... Everything we consume has at least an element of design/artistic creation about it. Sometimes the creativity is the reason for the item, often it is just a necessary part; quality can range from exquisite to not fit for purpose; it can be extravagant or workday. (One person said that they buy Sainsbury Basics food, so where does the creative design element come into that packaging? Errrrm - well, the jolly orange packaging didn't just happen, magicked up by the pixies.)
Some of these things we buy because we need them, such as shoes because practically speaking, we need to keep our feet protected. So why don’t our wardrobes contain just one pair of flat black pumps? Because we want the intangible benefits, for example how the shoes make us feel, or look, what they say about us.
Why do we listen to music? Why do we watch 'Downton Abbey' or 'Game of Thrones'? Because they make us happy, excite us, engage our attention, give us a window on a real or imagined world, connect us with other people when we say "did you see ..." And hundreds of other reasons.
'The Arts' isn't some elitist thing that is available to the "right" people. Yes, there are different types of arts which appeal to different audiences. However, design and artistic creations by artists, writers, musicians, designers, technicians,etc., are around us everyday whether we realise it or not. Whether you like The Sex Pistols and/or Placido Domingo; Mamma Mia and/or La Boheme; 'Skyfall' and/or 'Battleship Potemkin'; 'Eastenders' and/or Macbeth; ikea and/or Linley; Tiffany's and/or Claire's Accessories; a Mini and/or a Porsche, artistic creation in some form enhances all our lives. (I say ‘and/or’ because yes, I have both the cast of Glee and Arvo Part on my i-Pod.)
Perhaps as creatives, our job is to celebrate it all and not be precious about certain art forms. We can, of course, choose to follow a particular course, or like Sir Ian McKellen for example, be equally happy working across Shakespeare, Coronation Street, X-Men, music videos, pantomime and sitcoms, taking the public with him.