As a nation, let’s view the arts like we view sports

In the last 24-hours, I have experienced two key things:

  1. An incredible school end of year production
  2. A nation obsessed with the World Cup

Key points of both collide: teamwork, skills, inspiring young people…

However, what I’ll never understand is how sport is automatically and socially more mainstream than live theatre. Someone recently asked me if, for a corporate event, a backstage tour of Shakespeare’s Globe could be considered ‘too niche’ for everyone to enjoy. WHAT? Suck it up, theatre-haters. It’s history. It’s gorgeous. It needs to be taught, learnt and enjoyed.

We see countless of end-of-year shows at schools teach children the confidence they need to stand up and perform in front of their peers and parents. Those who detest creativity and the arts are encouraged to have a go. This isn’t about ego or musical skill – it’s purely about confidence building, a skill that will help them in every avenue of their life.

Sport was actively damaging to me at school. I felt physically pushed, unhelped and unaided by appalling teachers who never gave a damn enough to actually teach us the skills we needed to improve. We either had the sporting gift, or we didn’t. For those who didn’t? Deep field you go. Imagine if we had this attitude to those without a skill in maths or writing. Can’t learn your lines for the upcoming school play? Oops. Go sit in the corner. It just would never, ever happen – teachers are there to help, not instill a ‘you’re part of the cool crowd or not’ vibe – essentially, the vibe of bullies. Competitive ones. And that’s contributory to my modern day loathing of sport.

This attitude extends to adult life. If you like the arts and the more creative hobbies, you’re branded ‘quirky’ or a little alternative. Play sport competitively, and you’re a bloody hero. Is there the same skill, dedication and passion involved in both? I’d say absolutely not, but for the sake of argument and non-bias I’ll go right ahead and say yes. Sportspeople and creatives are not direct competitors – they’re equally, but differently, skilled. It would be great if the sports-shirt wearing, flag-waving, television-screaming sports cohort would appreciate that and have a bit more respect for the arts.

If I have to listen to an inane discussion about women’s football or rugby, be sneered at and mocked for not knowing who England’s playing in the World Cup, then it’s about time these people had enough respect to know what’s playing at their local theatre this year.

To agree, or not to agree. That is the question. Either way, message me on twitter @_SophieJoelle and let me know your thoughts.


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