Rent caps on housing
It’s nice to have nice things for everyone but gentrification is a phenomenon for the predominantly white middle classes. The identities of areas are being stamped out. And that sucks for everyone, except for a special breed of consumer who keeps Time Out as their bible, (I am loathe to name them as it would just be too ‘Time Out’) keeping mental notes on the ever expanding choice CHOICE CHOICE! bleeding into every new ‘cool’ corner of London.
It’s great to have funky new businesses operating in areas previously not known for their funkiness, but when normal people, who are perhaps only marginally interested in said funkiness, can no longer afford their homes, the funk is bad. Bad meaning bad. There is the people-being-priced-out-of-their-homes argument, obviously. But even for the coldest, neediest consumer devoid of human empathy or feeling, yes, you can create a ‘vibe’ with burnished steel, or exposed brickwork, but that cannot touch a ‘vibe’ that has developed organically in a community over decades. Landlords, STOP MESSING WITH THE VIBES!
Artists need space. And we need it cheaply. We are essentially tiny businesses desperately trying to balance the books. We don’t have an office. We don’t have a desk. We just have our tiny sensitive brains that plague us with self doubt and dreams of being paid a set amount every month.
Graphic designers, copy writers, illustrators etc work in a commercial world where there is a fair bit of money floating about. At a certain level, they can afford standard desk and studio space and because they work to the spec of their employer they are paid well for their work. Artists can work in this way as well, and some of us do, but if we are forced to only take commercial jobs, art will turn into a massive advert and it will challenge nothing, reveal nothing, originality will die, and art will make decent humans want to peel their own skin off.
Subsidies for artists
I would love to see some kind of subsidy for artists and those working in sectors that don’t pay well. If you’re working 50 hours a week (or more), you should take home more than 8,000 (or less) over the year. NB I plucked those figures from an old tax return in my own tragic life. In France, artists, providing they’ve done enough gigs, are subsidised by the government and their earnings topped up to ensure they can live. This ensures that the work they make can be quality without having to be commercially viable. Just because something makes money doesn’t mean it’s good. The Lion King is brilliant but it’s not changing the world, is it? It is also massively expensive, a lot of art is. The subsidies in France mean that artists can perform or exhibit in venues, or even car parks, where there is little budget and small or zero cover charges, ensuring their work reaches as many people as possible. Loads of free, independently made art? If you ask me, that is culturally invaluable.