Greenock Telegraph 20th November 2020

During the Covid-19 pandemic governments around the globe have had to take many difficult decisions. Getting the right balance between protecting citizens health and supporting the economy has been amongst the hardest. And more specifically, deciding how money should be allocated to best support the economy is a minefield of complexities. There is no way to triage individual organisations and companies to decide which ones are viable and which ones are not. Instead assistance has been offered across sectors and some will have benefited more than others. And having said that, there had to be an evaluation process. Not just, how many livelihoods depend on a sector, although the importance of that should never be underestimated but what contribution does it make to our society. And that’s a hard call but I want to talk up the need to support our creative sector. Those that work in music, art and drama. A precarious existence at the best of times. Many have been excluded from any assistance during this crisis. I have often championed Basic Income and I have seen an increased need for one this year and not just in the creative sector. A sector whose value is often underestimated or taken for granted. Trying to judge how much pleasure, stimulation, motivation and inspiration we draw from a book, a painting, a play, a photograph and the myriad of other contributions that creatives provide, is impossible. But we know it happens. I know that at a personal level I turn to music, art and literature for comfort and strength. But Beethovens, McCartneys, Hemingways and Pratchetts don’t grow on trees, we need to invest in many if we are to enjoy the fruits of a few.

Hopefully, we shall soon be coming to terms with life post COVID and while we rightly thank the frontline workers for all their hard work and dedication while keeping us physically safe and well, it would be remiss to not acknowledge the creatives for nurturing our souls and safeguarding our mental health at this time too.