A UK government campaign urging everyday citizens to re-skill has been branded as “crass” and “shameful” after it showed an image of a ballet dancer and the tag “Fatima’s next job could be in cyber”.
The ‘Rethink. Reskill. Reboot’ campaign was immediately lashed by Britain’s arts community for being tone deaf and has since been pulled.
People on social quickly lambasted the campaign’s message as “cultural philistinism and bad governance in one ad”, while others said it “pretty much sums up what this [government] thinks of the arts”.
Even the UK’s Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted that the campaign was “crass”.
“To those tweeting re #Fatima This is not something from @DCMS & I agree it was crass,” Dowden wrote. “This was a partner campaign encouraging people from all walks of life to think about a career in cyber security. I want to save jobs in the arts which is why we are investing £1.57bn.”
None other than Fatboy Slim (AKA Norman Cook) led the outcry on behalf of artists and musicians. He called the ad “shameful” and accused Boris Johnson’s government of “throwing the arts under the bus”.
The campaign included other iterations that appeared to encourage people in different industries to consider a cyber career.
According to industry body Arts Council England, Britain’s arts and culture industry contributes more than £10billion ($A18 billion) a year to the UK economy, with £3 spent on food, drink, accommodation and travel for every £1 spent on theatre tickets.
A spokesperson for Boris Johnson said: “This particular piece of content was not appropriate and has been removed from the campaign. The government recognises the challenge to the cultural industry.”
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