We can’t can we? Or should we?

When the world shifts from should we to we can’t, it becomes a dangerous place.

There has been a lot of noise around should we.

Should we follow up the applause with proper pay for NHS staff?

Should we put money into furlough schemes for workers?

Should we save all the artists as well as all of the arts venues?

Now we seem to be in the can we phase which is the dangerous part of an economic recovery scheme.

It is now that we start to hear not the can we so much as the mantra that we can’t.

We can’t afford free school meals.

We can’t afford to keep paying as much to businesses as we were.

We can’t save everyone.

The Arts should be a bell weather part of the recovery. After all we hear about national treasures that need to be saved or important venues that are a barometer of community spirit, but then we see the fruits of Prime, Netflix and the plethora of TV boxsets in shareholder profits instead of investment in where the new ideas and stars shall follow. The artistic schools up and down the country who are trying to survive, and yeah, they are often commercial, and who offer dance classes, arts opportunities, circus workshops and theatre classes may not manage to get through this.

They are not alone.

The individual artists who are unattached to a big building, a company limited by guarantee and therefore an economic recovery package out the £157bn are finding it tough.

Many shall not survive.

Most may come through this and suffer the PTSCovid for some time thereafter as they go back to the stress of trying to build a business, enhance a reputation and get a foothold in a ladder somewhere: just like they did when they started out and were filled with enthusiasm, vigour and youth.

The future for some looks bleak. We know that the arts are not alone as many other sectors are struggling, but only one sector can turn us onto the struggles of minorities through a script storyline in a national soap or create a tourist demand around a tragic rock star from Kirriemuir or be the economic powerhouse round a festival city or the regeneration catalyst for an entire city or found a movement like Shelter, by imploring Cathy to return in a film.

The Arts touches more than heads, hands and hearts.

I was reminded of much of this the other day when the theatre company, TRAM Direct of Glasgow sent me an email about their tour being cancelled. Over the last few years, they have been kind enough to invite me to many a show; I have not yet managed to see one. Never because of a lack of interest but more because of a lack of time, I have at least, never not turned up.

TRAM Direct are not a company that is eligible for support as they are mainly based upon volunteers and would fall into the scope of being a community theatre. Their desire to perform comes from that wish to contribute by providing opportunities as much as having something very original to say – much of what they perform is indeed their own work. Whilst I cannot vouch for the quality of their work, I can vouch for their enthusiasm; after all they are still chasing me long after anyone of lesser constancy would be filing for divorce.

The Arts needs that enthusiasm, if only to remind us of what we should and that we can’t abandon anyone in this dire hour of need.

As to what they were asking, let me just leave it right here for you to consider…

Hello Theatregoers,

You have supported TRAM Direct over the years and for this we have been truly grateful. The company was due to tour with “Islets of Silence”(to raise awareness of Pancreatic Cancer). Unfortunately, due to lockdown, our tour was cut short.

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. As such, TRAM Direct will be showing exclusive footage from “Islets of Silence”. It would be much appreciated if you could view, share and if possible donate.

Please visit the links below:

Official trailer


Facebook trailer/event page


Thank you again for all your support.

Isobel Barrett