News and Views

In Defence of the Arts

12 Jun 2019
Lord Puttnam delivers the Puttnam Scholarship Programme at UCC.

Renowned film producer, Lord David Puttnam, makes a passionate case for a career in the arts in the latest episode of UCC’s Plain Speaking podcast.

Speaking on the podcastLord Puttnam stated; “Take the creative industries including the digital world, there's been a quite extraordinary explosion to the extent that, now there are far more jobs year on year in the creative industries, what people might call the creative industries, than there are in finance. You tell that to the average parent and they look at you as though you're crazy but, in fact, that is the case.

“The best possible example I can give you is that if you take - this is an UK figure, I don't have the equivalent for Ireland - if take jobs in the finance and insurance industries, basically they've flat-lined since the 2008 crash. There's no growth really at all. Same numbers of the employed people. Salaries have been down a bit, but the number of jobs has flat-lined.”

A wide ranging conversation occured on the podcast including a discussion on recent issues in Hollywood. 

The Leaving Cert

Lord Puttnam, who leads a scholarship programme at UCC, spent thirty years as an independent producer of award-winning films including The Killing FieldsChariots of Fire and Bugsy Malone. Together these films won ten Oscars, ten golden globes, twenty-five Baftas and the Palme D'Or at Cannes. The film producer was on the UCC podcast to discuss the value of an arts education, and he was strongly critical of the Leaving Certificate.

“I think the pressure put on young people regarding their leaving cert, much of which is very, very artificial and has little to do with their real skills. We've got to get better at finding out where people's talents lie, where their passions lie, and help them in directing their own learning.”

“At the moment, we do have a one-size-fits-all process, and it strikes me the targets that are set up pretty arbitrary, and we've got to get better at that. Young people, children, students are individuals. Yet we've failed, in a sense, to appreciate that and individualize them. We're still seeing them as a mass group coming out.”

We have lost our sense of community

A Labour peer in the House of Lords, David Puttnam lives in West Cork and stated that in recent years, he has seen a loss in a sense of a community in Ireland.

I can't pretend that I see the same commitment to community amongst the children and grandchildren of the people I met and were my neighbours for 30 years that was here when I arrived.

In a way, we were able to- I'm guilty of it - retreat within ourselves. The need to go out, be convivial, deal with people, and to see that the richness of your life was mirrored in your interactions and interconnectivity with other people, I think that retreated, perhaps the whole business of pub life and people meeting on a very regular basis every Tuesday, every Thursday to do this, to do that. I think we have been atomised and we have been insulated.

We have a society that struggles with empathy.. we've got to stop looking at people as just numbers, crude numbers or masses, and see them as individuals, see them as a kid that we might give a home to or a child that we might help to get into a college or primary school.

UCC’s Plain Speaking podcast is available on iTunes and Spotify. Past episodes include Professor Keith Humphreys, the former drug advisor to President Obama, on the US opioid crisis and the former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, on climate change.

For more on this story contact:

Eoin Hahessy - Head of Media & Communications - UCC - 

University College Cork

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