Can we afford to be artists?

Arts Degrees. Let’s all just cut to the chase and admit that they are, essentially, the laughing stock of the degree world. And honestly, why are we surprised? Any subject that considers seven hours a week contact time enough to award a degree has got to be missing something. But it’s not just our inability to commit to a full working day that pushes us so far behind the all-important science degrees, it’s the entire culture surrounding the Arts.

You see, on paper an Arts degree might look great. Plenty of those ‘transferable skills’ we hear so much about. You know like analysing and reasoning and putting together constructive criticism. All the things that employers look for. But how many of us arts students can say we actually care about that?

It is my personal experience that most people who choose to go to university and choose to put themselves under so much pressure and financial stress, do not do so to end up in a 9-5 office job a few streets away from where they grew up. For most of us, the point in doing an arts degree is to be involved in the Arts in some way.

However, for a large percentage of the world, that just isn’t good enough. Even if we are to ignore all the people who believe that Arts related careers are a ‘soft option’, the issues surrounding potential careers still stand.

Whether you’re looking to go into Fine Art, Journalism, Drama, Music (the list goes on), it is exceptionally difficult to find a job. With Arts funding being cut all the time, not only are places and positions being narrowed, but the pay cheque too. And in a world of rising house prices and falling stock markets, for too many people this will just be too much of a risk to take. It is becoming more and more important for young people to be financially stable, and unfortunately, the Arts just aren’t a way to do that in the current climate. Better a boring office job than homeless.

The chances are that unless you’re really really lucky (as of course we’re all hoping we will be) you’ll be forced to take up several badly-paid, part-time jobs until finally you cave and get a nice little office job.

The point is that the Arts are under appreciated and under-funded and over-subscribed. When haven’t they been? Nobody has ever gone into an Arts degree without these worries hanging over their head, and nobody has gone into an Arts career certain that they’ll emerge successful.

But since when has that ever stopped us?


About Author



April 2021
Latest Comments
About Us

The University of East Anglia’s official student newspaper. Concrete is in print and online.

If you would like to get in touch, email the Editor on Follow us at @ConcreteUEA.