The initial move to shut down the BBC Singers programme hit the headlines and went down like a particularly off-key note in the middle of a distinctly average concert. It is therefore to great fanfare that this decision has been reversed. What with the controversy over Gary Lineker and this more recent set of events, the BBC has certainly had its reflective and listening ears on of late.
To many, it has felt like the last few years have not been overly kind to the arts and culture in the UK. Yes, our digital existence during the COVID years encouraged people to consider other ways in which they might access musical, artistic and cultural experiences. These were genuinely eye-opening in some ways – Jamie Oliver beaming directly into my kitchen, the Natural History Museum’s digital delivery, the plethora and explosion of podcasts since 2020 and of course the possibility of now ‘sharing’ a viewing or listening experience through a variety of applications.
But all these laudable initiatives miss the fundamental point of art, culture and music. Since the earliest cave paintings and gatherings around fires, we have crafted and shared cultural experiences together. Watching a performance of Macbeth on television doesn’t compare to seeing it live on stage. Yes, one can say “I’ve seen it” but can you honestly say you’ve “experienced” it? The same goes for watching a sporting event on television. No amount of jumping around one’s living room can make up for similar amounts of jumping in a live stadium. A concert or gig is no different. Even ‘grassroots’ (for want of a better term) experience of music, sport, art or drama is better than the digital version.
And this is just one of the reasons why we are so proud to champion the arts and culture here at Pocklington. Two weeks ago, the School celebrated its inaugural ‘Arts Week’, during which we bore witness to a cornucopia of artistic expression, dramatic creativity and inventive spirit. We are good at celebrating our pupils’ achievements at Pocklington School and, given its frequency and prominence in our weekly and weekend calendars, sport is often a source of much of this celebration. Of course, at key points in the termly calendar we laud our pupils’ approach to a variety of theatrical productions, music concerts and other co-curricular activities. It was, however, incredibly enriching to spend a whole week focused on and in celebration of ‘The Arts’. At a time when arts and culture don’t appear to be receiving the praise and support they richly deserve, it was pleasing to be able to buck this trend. Let’s hope this local trend can be emulated on a more regional and national scale.