Why Culture Matters to My Family

So the story goes, during WWII it was suggested to Winston Churchill that he should stop investing in the Arts to help pay for Britain’s war effort. He was said to have responded, “Then what would we be fighting for?”

Whilst it’s clearly above my pay grade to suggest that the country’s leadership over the last few decades has not shared the same conviction of the value of the arts as Churchill obviously did, the constant scrutiny in this area has become rather wearying for many. On the other hand, it has also encouraged others to undertake research, quantify and present evidence in support of the value of the arts and culture beyond doubt.

Yogesh in Uganda

The challenges of our current financial situation do not compare in the slightest to those of a world war but provide an opportune for all of us to reflect on the benefits of investment of public funding into the arts and culture on a personal level.

As a musician myself I was keen to give both my daughters a range of arts and cultural opportunities from early childhood which included kathak dance, piano, African drumming and steel pan lessons. More recently, we have started to learn a vocal form, known as bhajan, the lyrics of which have been composed by various mystics of India to which we accompany ourselves on the harmonium and tablá, as a means of spiritual expression.

“it’s not difficult to see the positive impact…”

At the age of 16 and 14, respectively, it’s not difficult to see the positive impact that access to the arts and culture has had on both girls. For example, performing music for audiences large and small has enabled them to develop confidence in being able to address large audiences, a skill that will stand them in good stead as they progress to adulthood.

Singing bhajans, often in the presence of large gatherings in the UK and in India has enabled them both to positively relate to people form a wide age range that live in diverse places from all walks of life. Surely these are some of the essential skills required to enable one to function successfully in an increasingly globalised work place.

Yogesh with Tablas

And lastly, but certainly by no means the least, being able to access a range of musical genres from Beethoven to bhajans and from the music of Sam Smith to Ed Sheeran has enabled my daughters to easily relate with 3 generations of my family. Now that’s what I call an excellent start to a good work/life balance.

Read our news article on Arts Council England’s views – #CultureMatters. I certainly think culture matters. What do you think? Please comment below.



Yogesh DattaniYogesh Dattani

Yogesh is Head of Ealing Music Partnership

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