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Creative opportunities for everyone? #culture

Wednesbury art gallery

Living in the Black Country, all I seemed to hear about when I was young was the industry. Now I hear a lot about creativity and art. We used to make steel tubes here and all sorts of products that supported the motor industry and the building industry. The Black Country was an important part of a nation that was industrious. We made things.

Not everyone wanted to slave away in the industry. People were riding their bikes to factories that made cars for a very different class of people. The people who made the cars couldn’t afford to buy them.

Then along came pop music, this could save a whole generation from the dirt and grime that was an industry in those days. It not only offered a cleaner way of life. It offered the opportunity to join that class of people that could actually own and drive a car. People aspired to better things. Many of the bands did well. The Beatles did phenomenally well. Abba copied the success formula in Sweden and suddenly the big investors took notice and so did governments. Abba was making more money in exports for Sweden than their largest car manufacturer Volvo.

Of course we do want art, we need music and creativity is at the heart of marketing and advertising. We shouldn’t stop making things and all go into these more colourful industries. Someone has to make the cars and maintain them. We have to be realistic after all.

This new rush to be part of a new creative phenomenon has caused a culture of gentrification. Whole neighbourhoods of cities have become part of a culture that sells art and crafts and expensive coffee made from the finest Columbian coffee beans. The gentrification involves making the whole area quite Bohemian and attracting the middle classes that have money to spend on amusing themselves and discovering new and novel things like sushi.

This isn’t new. The first factory in Birmingham in the Victorian era to mass produce trinkets using steam pandered to the same class of people. The middle classes with their gentrified image to protect. This class of people with so much discretionary income left over for those little luxuries that are needed to keep up with the Joneses of middle-class England.

Someone once said that art looked nice but was useless by its nature. We all like ornate buildings and we all want beautiful Victorian parks. Aesthetics is important to all of us, but many artists try to make a statement and that statement is often ugly. The rebels with their graffiti protest the middle-class gentrification with a type of art that says no to beauty or says no to dereliction.

We need creativity, but it shouldn’t be the exclusive right of the gentrified middle classes. Too much support and money is going to those gentrified areas of London that already have too much of that middle classes discretionary income pouring in already. The answer to this unfairness isn’t going into the ghettoes and asking crack addicts is they would like to have a grant to perform reggae while creating a visual masterpiece using spray paint. Creativity has to be genuine and satisfy a genuine need, but also needs to be directed at people with some talent who need to be motivated and encouraged.

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