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Government-backed ad campaign sparks anger by suggesting ballet dancer 'rethink' and 'reboot' job

The campaign is encouraging people to 'think cyber' in terms of career options

A ballet dancer

A campaign backed by the UK government has come under fire for suggesting that ballet dancers should 'rethink', 'reboot' and 'reskill'.

As part of QA and the HM Government's "Cyber First" campaign (you can find out more here), an online ad was shown that juxtaposed a picture of a young ballet dancer with a caption saying that "Fatima's next job could be cyber....Rethink. Reskill. Reboot."

According to QA's website, which displayed the ad: "2020 has shaken up jobs - but most successful careers have a turning point...The government-backed Rethink. Reskill. Reboot programme from CyberFirst could be yours."

Controversy around the "viability" of arts jobs has been raging ever since the Chancellor's most recent jobs support scheme reveal, labelled an "insult" by producer Sonia Friedman. Rishi Sunak has suggested that many professionals (not simply in the arts sector) may have to retrain during the ongoing pandemic with their jobs no longer viable.

While the ad is only one in a series, it was deemed inappropriate given the ongoing closure of many venues due to social distancing. Described as "poor marketing" by some, one Twitter user said they've never "been angrier at a simple advert in [their] life."

Thusfar, very little support has been given directly to arts professionals and has only been given to organisations, including today's announced £250 million's worth of grants.

According to the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, the grants are meant to then indirectly aid freelancers by providing opportunities and keep organisations afloat.

Update: Dowden has distanced himself from the ads in a tweet, saying the campaign was 'crass'. QA.Com has also removed the advert from its website.

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