Today is Remembrance Day and today’s topic for #BEDN. As we remember and honour those that fought and died for our country I recalled some of the war poetry we studied at school, particularly Wilfred Owen. For me the harrowing words studied painted the horrors of war far more vividly than studying the topic in history lessons. The power of words, and my love of books, reading and libraries instilled in me since childhood will last a lifetime.
It saddens me to hear that, according to Public Libraries News, around 350 libraries are thought to have shut since April, or be at risk. This is perhaps understandable in these times of austerity though when you consider that the proportion of adults using libraries has fallen from 48% to 36% since 2005, according to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Encouragingly though at the same time Birmingham has just opened its fantastic new library, the largest public building of its kind in Europe, and the cities of Liverpool and Manchester have also invested heavily (see: Library Visits Drop by a Quarter in Eight Years).
The arts have been in the headlines further this week with the ongoing argument about how funding for English museums, galleries and theatres is still heavily skewed towards London with a spend of £69 per resident versus investment of £4.60 per capita outside of the capital (source: London Bias in Culture Funding). Although we would perhaps expect a slightly higher investment in the arts and culture of our capital city more work is still needed to balance the huge difference.
Following this news I also read an interesting series of posts on the DCMS Blog recently asking about how to put a value on culture. We all know that the arts have a value but until we can measure this scientifically and effectively are we just going to see further and further funding cuts?
With all this bad press we need to remember that we have so much talent to celebrate in our acclaimed and envied UK arts and cultural sector. The arts are uplifting and can have a positive effect on our health and wellbeing. Similarly some of the fantastic bloggers we have met in establishing the first UK Blog Awards have shared how blogging has often improved their personal life, boosted their self-esteem and created new friendships. One powerful and personal story will be shared in our forthcoming free blogging Ebook about how blogging helped them overcome depression and make life worth living again.
Freedom of expression is vital in the arts. Blogging is a great form of personal expression and this perhaps explains why there are so many fantastic arts and culture bloggers out there?
The Arts and Culture category of the National UK Blog Awards is open to blogs covering all genres and art forms. Whether you participate in a book club or knitting circle and blog to share the passion for your hobby, through to the plethora of arts organisations enriching the lives of their local communities and the world class facilities and buildings which make up the rich tapestry of the UK cultural offering; we want to hear from you all.
The UK is a world leader in terms of arts and culture and we are seeking blogs to celebrate and showcase this. Are you a thought leader or ambassador for the arts on a local, regional or national level? Are you one of the ground-breaking libraries, museums and galleries using blogging and digital outreach to connect with your communities and audiences? Maybe you are an art lover or critic and participate in the arts in your spare time? Perhaps you are passionate about the change and positive benefits art and culture can bring, such as the positive effects of the arts on health and wellbeing and youth engagement?
We want to see blog posts which share the creativity of the sector. Do you deviate from the traditional text based blog posts and instead choose to showcase your own artwork, photography, videography and designs? We hope you will share them with us and get the recognition you deserve by entering the awards.
The UK Blog Awards wants to hear from talented arts and culture bloggers from across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Individuals and organisations can enter their blogs free of charge into the Awards via this link: Enter the UK Blog Awards. There is also the option to nominate your favourite arts and culture blogs and bloggers if you scroll further down the webpage.