Arts Campaign: Not Just “OTHER” 

"Campaign to get online forms, surveys, applications etc. to recognise "Artist" and other artistic professions as genuine categories in their drop down menus."  https://www.facebook.com/Notjustother

 So it happens again, you’re filling out an online form and you click on the drop down menu to say what you do as an occupation: Every time you do so it becomes clear that there is a whole section of society that doesn’t actually exist: That is: “The Artists”. Well they do but they have to be content with the category “OTHER”. So you look at the list and see if there are any categories on offer which you would be happy to put yourself in.

Where are the writers, painters, performers, actors, poets, designers, lighting designers, sculptors, and dancers? (Feel free to add your crime.)

If like me you direct shows, then sometimes you consider putting yourself in the category “Director” but you know they actually mean a company director. As someone who runs a theatre company which has to have a legal structure it would be technically accurate but it irks me that I have to use the bit of my job that isn’t about the art to sneak myself into a recognised category.

It becomes clear that the thing you dealt with earlier in your career when you decided to be an artist and thought you’d managed to leave behind, will haunt you pretty much your whole professional life. Namely it’s the old “When are you going to get a proper job?” question. I mean no one realistically thinks they will make a living from being an artist do they?

Of course there is something ridiculous in the fact that so many people do work in the arts, not just from their garret in penury, but in the commercial sector where incredible amounts of money are made yet they still don’t get included in this small everyday assessment of what actually goes on in the real world.

So we are “Other” and of course we could continue to enjoy this as our outsider status. However it strikes me that this is one of the small incremental things which insidiously limit how we might all recognise the validity of the arts in society. A covert means to close off the possibility that all people could potentially see themselves as artists or one day might even meet one!

In psychology terms originating in the ideas of Hegel the process of seeing people as “Other” is a way of “defining and securing one’s own positive identity through the stigmatisation of an “Other”.”

So I am starting a small campaign for the arts.


Here’s my request: People who create websites, forms, and surveys with drop-down menus, could you please start including “Artist” and related artistic professions as recognised and valued professional identities from which we can choose. It won’t cost you anything so you could support the arts without handing over money and it may slowly help to change our attitude to the arts and what is possible in our world.

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