Government pull ‘Fatima’ advert suggesting ballet dancer should “retrain in cyber” after backlash

Musicians and other creatives slammed the advert for showing a "total lack of respect for the arts"

A controversial advert which suggested that a ballet dancer could retrain and take a job in cyber security has been pulled by the UK government after it caused widespread outrage.

Musicians and other creatives slammed the advert for showing a “total lack of respect for the arts”, which faces huge financial pressures due to coronavirus restrictions.

This latest controversy comes after Chancellor Rishi Sunak claimed that people should “adapt” their jobs during the ongoing pandemic, telling ITV News that people “in all walks of life” will have to consider changing the jobs they do in certain industries.

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Responding to the poster, singer Sam Fender said he thought it was “satire”.

Fatboy Slim added: “This is unbelievable. The government is throwing the arts under a bus.”

But, as pointed out by Primal Scream‘s Simone Marie, the advert actually originates from a 2019 campaign.

“That ballerina ad was from a [government] cyber first scheme a year ago. It still resonates and it’s still 2000% bullshit, but let’s be selective about what we spread online . it’s depressing and exhausting enough as it is,” she said.

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Confirming the withdrawal of the advert, a government spokesperson told HuffPost: “This is part of a campaign encouraging people from all walks of life to think about a career in cyber security but this particular piece of content was not appropriate and has been removed from the campaign.”

Responding to the controversy, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “To those tweeting re #Fatima This is not something from @DCMS & I agree it was crass 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.”

Dowden’s talk of the £1.57 billion cultural recovery fund comes after it was confirmed that Liverpool’s Cavern Club and Leeds’ The Brudenell are among the venues which have received a lifeline from the government to survive the financial impact of coronavirus.

The grassroots spaces are among 1,385 theatres, museums and cultural organisations across England which have benefitted from a £257million grant – the largest chunk of the government’s £1.57billion Culture Recovery Fund to date.

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