Much opprobrium being heaped upon political heads about this ad telling a ballet dancer that perhaps she should retrain into cybersecurity. The problem here being that she should. Retrain that is.
A number of reasons for this too:
A government-backed advert that encouraged people working in the arts to reskill by turning to a career in cybersecurity has been scrapped after the culture secretary described it as “crass”.
On Monday morning Oliver Dowden distanced himself from the Cyber First campaign, which resurfaced on the same day his department was celebrating awarding £257m in funding to struggling venues and organisations.
Dowden tweeted that the ad 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 he wanted to “save jobs in the arts”.
That first and most obvious reason being that at present we desire fewer ballet dancers than we used to. Some who had that mapped out as their life path are going to be disappointed. Yes, OK, bit of a pisser but there we are. There are journalists around the country now having to learn how to do something else because the newspaper business is dying. No, not because of coronavirus but because economies do change. And we’re entirely shit out of coal miners and rightly so given that we don’t want to broil Flipper.
Tempus mutandis and all that and all that eheu fugaces means that plans gang aft agley. It is only entire stasis that allows static job choices.
A fair criticism is that suggestion of cybersecurity. We’ve all had fun taking that government job test (my suggestion was information security architect which had the wife guffawing loudly) and that just shows what a disaster a planned economy would be. The matching of skills and abilities with jobs that need to be done is more than a little awry.
But the biggie here is about being a dancer:
Charlotte Bence, from the Equity trade union, said: “Fatima doesn’t need to retrain – what Fatima needs is adequate state support as a freelance artist, support that so far she has been lacking. Freelance workers deserve better than patronising adverts telling them to go and work elsewhere.”
Ms. Bence needs to understand the working lives of her members rather better. The dance world has a voracious appetite for young things to be in the corps de ballet, chorus line, the tap routines and the rest. It has a very limited appetite for women beyond the age of 30 – even 25 to be callous – except as known and big time stars. Even then past 40 there’s little work. And no, not because of sexism, happens to men too. It’s a physical thing, the body just won’t do the work at older ages.
Therefore every dancer needs to have something up their sleeve for when the ankles just won’t take it any more. Very few indeed will make enough cash in their stage work to not work for 40 years afterwards. Another job is a necessity.
Telling dancers to have another career skill in mind? Just plain good sense that.