U.K. Group Rallies Musicians, Writers and Performers to Fight Government Cuts

The People's Assembly Against Austerity, 2013.
Alex MacNaughton Photography Limited/Rex/REX USA

Anti-Austerity demonstration in Parliament Square, London, Britain - 21 Jun 2014 

Newly formed U.K. protest group Artists’ Assembly Against Austerity are calling on musicians, writers, artists and performers to voice their opposition against government cuts in public and voluntary services.  
Over 500 people working in the creative arts have so far signed up to the protest group, which was spun out of The People’s Assembly Against Austerity -- a national collective formed in 2013. In June this year, 50,000 people marched through London as part of a People’s Assembly Against Austerity demonstration against the current British coalition government. Organizers of Artists’ Assembly Against Austerity now hope to mobilize people working in the creative arts and industries to get involved.       
“The People’s Assembly Against Austerity gave people an entry point to mobilizing against austerity and injustice, but people often get involved with politics through their trade unions or work place,” organizer Season Butler tells Billboard from Cape Town, South Africa, where she is performing at the Live Art Festival.
“Unfortunately, a lot of artists don’t have those traditional entry points, yet all the artists I know, their blood would boil if we lost the NHS. Like everyone else, artists are suffering from rocketing rents and the increasing cost of housing, particularly in London, but all over the U.K. So I want to see all people standing up in solidarity with each other -- the entirety of the 99%,” continues Season, who is American-born, but has lived in London for the past 12 years.
Artists’ Assembly Against Austerity demands center on four key issues:

  1. Keep healthcare free at the point of need and resist privatization.
  2. Ensure equal access to arts education by scrapping student fees and ending cuts to creative subjects in schools and universities. 
  3. Provide affordable homes and studios by capping rents. 
  4. The abolition of cuts to the cultural and heritage sectors and reinstatement of arts funding to pre-2010 levels, appropriately adjusted for inflation.

So far the majority of the signatories who have signed up to Artists’ Assembly Against Austerity come from predominately literature, arts and performance backgrounds, although Butler hopes that as awareness of the protest group grows that more people from the music industry will lend their support.
“Musicians have been central to protest movements from suffrage to civil rights and Vietnam to the Arab Spring. Musicians are people who know how to make noise, so we want them all on board -- performers, roadies, sound technicians, managers, everyone," she states.
“For every £1 government invests in the arts, approximately £6 goes back to exchequer, so actually it makes good economic sense. Cuts to arts funding doesn’t just hurt artists. It hurts the whole of society. We want to be a good entry point to mobilize a group of creative people, who often don’t want to be in a group and often are not overtly political,” adds Butler.
People who wish to sign up to the Artists’ Assembly Against Austerity can do so here.


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