Well 2016 has gotten off to a horrible start with the sad news that David Bowie and Alan Rickman both passed away.

I’ve never considered myself a fan of David Bowie. To me he will always be the Goblin King, but since his death I find myself saying “oh I didn’t know this was David Bowie,” to lots of songs that have filtered into my subconscious over the last 38 years.

He was just so famous, though. Without really knowing much of his music, he was so ingrained in the fabric of pop culture that I couldn’t not know of him.

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Profits from this T-shirt are being donated to Cancer Research UK

I’m always saddened when a celebrity passes. But then I get over it really quickly because, while it’s sad that they won’t make more music or appear in more films their passing has no direct impact on my daily life.

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Profits from this T-shirt are being donated to Cancer Research UK

Having said that, I was truly upset when I heard about Alan Rickman.
I first remember him playing Colonol Brandon in Sense and Sensibility but then he seemed to pop up in loads of things. He played scary bad guys really well with that deep sinister voice.
Reading all the tributes from his peers this week has revealed an actor who was funny, kind, caring and absolutely committed to his roles.

Aside from them both being 69 and being taken by cancer within a few days of each other, both David Bowie and Alan Rickman were working class kids from council estates. They attended government funded art school, honed their skills and went on to achieve fame and world wide recognition for their achievements in their artistic fields.

We live in different times now. The likelihood of working class kids being able to attend art school is pretty slim, as their fees are prohibitively high. How much talent will we miss out on because only those that can afford it will have the opportunity to achieve their dream? Who will become role models when fame is bought with money instead of raw talent? Perhaps this is why there is such a rise in reality TV stars, because those with the money don’t have the skills and those with the natural talent don’t have the means. So those with neither rise to infamy by any means necessary.

I’ve talked about Celebrity Big Brother already this week and praised Christopher Maloney for starting his theatre and arts academy in Anfield. It’s more than just a nice thing to do, it’s essential. Clubs like this are necessary to ensure that no child is prevented from pursuing their dreams just because they don’t have the finances to pay for training. We should be affording kids every opportunity to find their passion and nurture their skills.

In Bootle, I started a tech club aimed at kids who are traditionally excluded and bullied because they’re interested in science and technology. Our club is bringing those kids into an environment where they can geek out to their hearts content and know that they’re not alone in their interests.

There’s also the community journalists project that takes young unemployed adults and teaches them to make films that highlight the good things about their neighbourhood. They’re learning subjects that were not on offer at school and they can’t afford to study at college.

Whether it’s the arts or technology or sport, charities and social enterprises are doing what they can to fill the gaps that have been created by government cuts. Without funding bodies like Children in Need, The Big Lottery or the European Social Fund, available provision in deprived areas would be non existent. And without affordable access to the arts, we’ll never see the likes of David Bowie or Alan Rickman again.

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