A government-backed advert which encouraged people working in the arts to make a career change into cybersecurity careers has been dropped after the Culture Secretary called it ‘rude’.
On Monday morning, Oliver Dowden distanced himself from the Cyber First campaign, which resurfaced the same day his department celebrated the awarding of £257million in funding to struggling places and organisations.
Dowden tweeted that the advertising campaign, which is backed by the government and promotes retraining in tech, did not come from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), while reiterating that it wanted to “save people jobs in the arts.
The ad features a ballet dancer tying her shoes, with the caption “Fatima’s next job could be in tech”, which critics said was in poor taste given that thousands of jobs are being lost in the cultural sector. the countryside promises to equip people with “the essential cyber skills needed to launch you into a rewarding career.”
Critics said the campaign represented “cultural philistinism and bad governance in one ad”, while others said it “pretty much summed up what it [government] think of the arts.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said: “This particular content was not appropriate and has been removed from the campaign. The Government recognizes the challenge for the cultural industry.
The row is particularly embarrassing for the government as it comes on the same day the DCMS released details of 1,300 organizations that will share £257million in funding from its £1.57billion arts support scheme . which was originally announced in July.
On a day when the DCMS was celebrated by many artists for providing funding described as a “lifeline”, Dowden had to make it clear that he disagreed with a campaign backed by his own government.
“This was a partnership campaign encouraging people from all walks of life to consider a career in cybersecurity. I want to save jobs in the arts, that’s why we’re investing £1.57billion,” Dowden tweeted.
Author Caitlin Moran responded: “I don’t know if the government is aware that it seems to have recently created a ‘Hopes & Dreams Crushing Department’, but for an already depressed and anxious country, I would say it’s a bit of a ‘Not now time, guys ‘?”
Shadow Mental Health Minister Dr. Rosena Allin-Khan tweeted“Fatima, you are you. Don’t let anyone else tell you that you’re not good enough because you don’t conform to their preconceived social norms.
Charlotte Bence, from the Equity trade union, said: “Fatima doesn’t need retraining – what Fatima needs is adequate support from the state as an independent artist, support that was missing so far. Freelancers deserve better than condescending advertisements telling them to work elsewhere.
Earlier, Chancellor Rishi Sunak denied encouraging struggling arts industry workers to retrain. He insisted he was talking generally about the need for some workers to “adapt” and suggested there would be “new and new opportunities” available for people who couldn’t make their living. old job.
According to Arts Council England, the arts and culture industry contributes over £10 billion a year to the UK economy.
The government’s messages aimed at people working in the arts sector have been heavily criticized in recent weeks. After the publication of Sunak’s winter economic plan focused on ‘viable’ jobs, many artists expressed their anger at the government, seeming to suggest that their roles were ‘luxurious hobbies’ that could be abandoned for other work. .
The likes of Liam Gallagher, Lily Allen and Ian Rankin have all criticized the government, with the Scottish author saying the suggestion that jobs in the arts were unsustainable was ‘crazy’.
Singer and DJ Tim Burgess wrote in the Guardian that the Chancellor’s message suggested thousands of hopeful musicians would have to give up on their fledgling careers.
“It felt like the Chancellor was rebranding the arts business as some sort of luxurious, decadent pastime, and now it was time for everyone to get their hands dirty – maybe literally, because we’re running out of people to picking fruit,” he said. wrote.