I don’t usually post on current issues but after the spectacular opening ceremony of the Olympics 2012 I was moved to say something.
Firstly, I hate sport. I mean, I HATE sport. The hatred grew at school when we were made to do games, and has permeated my life as my dad, boyfriends and now my husband insist on watching their favourite sports on the TV, which almost always co-incides with the times I’m looking forward to a family day at home.
When London was awarded the 2012 Olympics I was pleased for the country initially because I could see it was an achievement which would bring in investment and tourism, but I quickly started to resent it. At the time I was freelancing in the arts sector and saw immediate repercussions as arts funding was cut in response to the recession. It felt unfair that sport was still being heavily funded, and the only way for arts organisations to tap into this money was to somehow link up arts projects with sports projects. This didn’t sound a very easy thing to do as I’d always seen sports and arts as completely different entities.
I stepped back from the arts sector after having my boys in 2009 as the funding cuts made working in the industry very difficult. From a distance, I saw the constant struggle for funding and the tightening of belts as arts offices were forced to cut their staff to the bare minimum. It made me realise how undervalued the arts had become in this country.
I believe in one night Danny Boyle has changed all that. His truly marvellous event was pure art and theatre. It embraced fine literature, music, movies, popular culture, comedy, theatre, politics, people…and it showed how art is intertwined with our lives. Even people who don’t think art has any importance in the world watched the ceremony and drank in the inspiration. Boyle showed us that art can make us proud to be British, it can unite a country that is often fragmented and it can pull a nation together behind a cause. In this case it happened to be a sporting event, but it shows that art has the power to convert the way we feel about things, to renew our interests and to give us direction and belief.
I now realise that art and sport can be a potent combination; both are fuelled with passion, possibilities and have the power to touch our lives. I just hope that through this difficult recession the government realises the arts can enrich lives just as sport can. Danny Boyle’s memorable event might well be responsible for inspiring the next generation of filmmakers, writers, actors, sculptors, musicians and dancers just as much as encouraging young people to take up sailing, running and swimming. It’s time as a country that we embraced art and realised that life without it would be unbearable.
And as for me, I’ve actually watched the Olympics for the first time in my life. Danny Boyle is a genius.