Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Stand up to be counted

Today on Twitter it's #WriterWednesday - it's also the day of major strike action by many union members across the UK. This made me think about Writer & Artist Solidarity. 

Is there such a thing? Do we care about each others' ability to thrive in their own field (or barn or attic)? Seems to me that, in times of economic woe, we need that fraternity all the more.

Many creatives (shorthand for artists, writers, makars of all varieties) shudder at the idea of joining organisations, of cramming their exquisitely individual talents and concerns into any pigeon hole offered, but - are there areas where we should stand together, as workers in other aspects of life do? What do you stand up to be counted for? How, when? 

Between now and December 20th, when the Society of Authors meets the BBC again to discuss the cuts to the short story, can the No To Short Story Cuts petition end on a high note? Can it roll over the 9,000 mark, could it reach 10,000? 

That would require more actors and writers and listeners and arts professionals and generally concerned and culturally aware people to care sufficiently about the issue. That's difficult.. A number of people's response falls into the 'meh, short stories, radio, not bothered' category (if they respond at all). About which my feeling is: okay, but who'll care when your creative form and your livelihood is threatened?

If BBC Radio 4 were a TV station it would be BBC FOUR, and the volume of Sarah Lund fans alone would cause a wave of support to keep it safe.  Radio is a less salient medium - perhaps all the more reason for us to stand up for what it does best. To me, it makes no sense to fill Radio 4 with news & opinion at expense of original and thought-provoking writing and performance.

This ongoing 'short-story-story' is piffling beside greater woes of the world. I know that. But I am angry at how the foundations of the BBC get nibbled away by the same termites employed to build and protect it.

This quote read today via Twitter seems apposite: "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time." - Thomas A. Edison

ps - just a thought... I've seen several letters to about BBC FOUR, but so far none about the whittled-down Radio 4 and the scar left in its schedules now that stories have been ripped out.

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