Give yourself a break... the Government won't

Arts budgets have been cut around the country, but culture only gets more important as recession hits home

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The Independent Online

I'm 80 per cent sure there's a mouse in my room. The boiler's broken, the ceiling's bowing and I'm considering taking up the tuba just to block out the constant barking from the dog next door. This is student life, where being able to use the same tea bag twice is a celebrated skill and where food shopping in Marks and Spencer is the stuff of dreams. But it gets better, right?

Welcome to the recession.

As part of the delightfully named “Lost Generation” my opportunities for future success are looking grim. Jobs are scarce, money's tight and with a Drama degree, I highly doubt I will be walking into a well paid job aged 21. As have most, I've been well and truly hit by the recession but am sick of spending every waking minute fretting about money for the bus fair calculating which own-brand cereals are cheaper.

So what do we do? We escape.

About a month ago my friend dragged me to a tiny venue in Bristol for an amateur comedy night. It was snowing, I was tired, the venue was a tiny room, capacity for no more than 60 people, the seats were creaky wooden benches and an elderly gentleman insisted on resting his leg firmly against mine. I was counting the minutes to leave but then something happened. Something spectacular. The first performer came on, told jokes and was funny. A room full of people erupted into raucous laughter. After a while the seats became more comfortable, my laugh became sincere and the elderly gentleman had to leave early.

The next day I was buzzing, remembering my favourite parts, practising the new-found jokes and had a smile on my face even whilst cleaning the toilet.

This is a microcosm of the need the arts fill within our society. People need to escape sometimes, to forget about unpaid bills and laundry and just enjoy the talent on display, escaping the mundanities of everyday life can impact someone's outlook drastically.

The arts also act as a cultural bookmark as they highlight current issues. We see music echoing the anarchic tones of the 1970s Punk Rock scene and playwrights returning to the gritty Kitchen Sink styles of the 60s.

Fact of the matter is, it's happening again. Which is why I believe that arts and culture do not simply matter, but are a necessity in troubled times.

So give yourself a break, go and see that film you've been itching to see, sit in that pub with the live music, you need a break, and with more cuts to come, the Government's not giving you one any time soon.

Elena Hunt is studying drama with creative writing at The University of the West of England.