Belfast Telegraph

Investing in our theatres and galleries will make us all better people

By Dan Gordon

I've said it before, I'll say it again and I'll keep saying it until all our politicians say it too. The arts make better people.

It's that simple – yet we make the tragic mistake of viewing the arts as a luxury and spend less and less time, money and effort in government and in our daily lives on them. When we build a hospital or a school we don't then say that's you, lads, and walk away. We equip, staff, support and attend – the arts are no different. Of course it's about money – investment is everything in the modern world but it's also about belief. It's great our politicians have constructed so many new theatres, galleries and arts centres throughout the country but now we need to invest in the product to go in them. We the voters need to make our leaders see that there's more to it than fine buildings – we now need people making quality work to fill them. We need investment in practitioners and audiences – show them what they're missing.

The Titanic Studio extension is brilliant but it's like building a new sports stadium. Where will the players come from if we don't invest in them too?

We need politicians to lead by example – just don't turn up at a photo opportunity with the visiting panto celebrity or the summer scheme of young people. Stay, see the work, bring your constituents – show them what you've done for them.

When you arrive in a taxi, buy the taxi driver a ticket for him and the wife and tell him to bring her on his night off.

Cinema, plays, painting, puppets, sculpture, music, dance, design, television, radio, literature, photography ... the list of what can be called art is endless. Holding life up and looking at what makes us human beings. Re-enacting situations – seeing where it goes right and how it can go wrong can help us manage our own lives better.

The arts can't cure cancer or stop wars but people can. If people have an understanding of the arts, then we have the tools to make more informed and sensible decisions and that's all we can ask of ourselves.

Dan Gordon is an actor, producer and director

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