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Not en pointe: UK government pulls controversial ballet ad

The UK government will pull the ad due to backlash from those within the arts community

You may not be anywhere near the office water cooler right now, but we still want to spotlight the most talked about creative from the brands that should be on your radar. Today, everyone is talking about the UK government's decision to pull its now controversial ad, suggesting a ballet dancer retrain in 'cyber.'

'Fatima's next job could be in cyber. (she just doesn't know it yet). Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.' In light of the current state of the arts in the UK, it's no wonder this ad hit a nerve for many.

The words were originally penned as part of a wider 'Rethink Reskill Reboot' campaign devised in 2019 run by training company QA in partnership with UK Gov and NCSC to encourage people in existing jobs to consider a career in Cyber. However, the campaign has shifted its target audience, sending mixed messages on the UK government's willingness to save the arts.

With the likes of theatres and cultural institutions now on the brink of collapse, by 2021, it has been suggested that the UK could become 'a cultural wasteland.' And, despite a boost from the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, many people face losing jobs they have dedicated their lives to achieve.

Earlier this month, after the chancellor Rishi Sunak said people in 'all walks of life' should adapt for employment, the government came under fire when it launched a careers quiz aimed at identifying potential new areas of work for people who have lost their job due to the pandemic. From boxing to lock-keeping, DJing to cinema projectionist, it was criticised for missing the mark with wild suggestions that made it seem like the answers were pulled out of a hat.

Hence why when the ad started circulating today, many assumed it was part of this recent government drive to encourage people to retrain, and Twitter was ablaze.

To make matters worse, the photo used on the ad was taken from Unsplash - a platform where young photographers add their work to be used for free, with the hope of being credited and thus noticed.

An official spokesperson for Boris Johnson has now confirmed the ad will be withdrawn from circulation following the backlash. The spokesperson told reporters: “This is part of a campaign encouraging people from all walks of life to think about a career in cybersecurity but this particular piece of content was not appropriate and has been removed from the campaign.”

Further, culture secretary Oliver Dowden today (12 October) worked to distance himself from the ads which he deemed "crass."

Making the best out of an awkward situation, the controversial ad has inspired some spoofs.