I joined students and staff outside the RCA during a lunch time demonstration. Similar protests were taking place across the country at the 80% cut in government funding for teaching. This will be replaced by raising student fees to £9,000 per year. People are shocked by the huge increase in personal costs of education.
But some people are talking about about a deeper question ‘ What kind of society will we living in if art, design, humanities are all simply left to market forces to organise?’ Many of the artists and designers saying this are people with direct experience of selling their work and running thier own businesses.
As a demonstration it was remarkable for the mood of quiet reflection. There was placard waving and antiphonal chanting across the road with the crowd on one side shouting ‘No Ifs No Buts’ and the other answering ‘No Education Cuts’. However many people just stood quietly, some almost silently. There was almost a scuffle with police when those holding the RCA banner (a beautifully hand drawn unicorn from the College crest with a pair of textile scissors advancing menacingly to cut of its hooves) tried to cross the road.
The ‘liturgy in daily life’ moment came for me when a student walked up the road with a double pack of custard cream biscuits offering them to staff, students and police officers. As I munched my custard cream I was very aware of having come directly from our lunchtime communion service – ‘though we are many we are one body because we all share in the one bread’.
What kind of ‘civic body’ will be created by these cuts and all the other changes to our society being proposed? What kind of society?