Remember what is was like to be sung to sleep?
This is a revised version of Duty Now for the Future - an article commissioned by Collecteurs NY to help launch its SUBSTANCE 100 initiative. The original article was written before the COVID-19 pandemic swept through the UK , Europe and the USA. Duty Now for the Future 2.0 is a call for everyone in the art world to finally wake up to our responsibilities in a world where there can be no going back to the crass inequity of our lives before Corona virus.
It asks: Is the time coming when art will finally embrace self-organised alternatives rooted in ethical practice, equitable living, commoning, fair pay, openness and hope? Can art help rebuild our lives and our communities? Can it reimagine ways of being and living together after a global pandemic that surely changes everything?
I had a conversation with fellow artist Martin Daws back in 2016. He had a great idea. imagine if artists were employed, full-time to work in communities? We worked on it. Martin then wrote a guest blog here in 2017.
This article sets out how we could easily and relatively cheaply employ artists in everyday community and how such a simple, yet radical system would create just the sort of transformative cultural change that is at the heart of Arts Council England’s new 10-year strategy, Let’s Create.
This is my take on why only cooperation and federalism and democratic, participatory community development can begin to heal the divisions that exist in our communities. For me, the Labour party have lost any connection to its roots, so we need to radically renew the idea of working-class movements by ending the elite electoral machines that never listen and that reproduce the very conditions of our oppression that they claim to oppose.
This is a transcript of my keynote at the British Textile Biennial which took place on 1st November 2019. I performed the keynote to a film. I’ve included some of the videos featured. The Doves’ songs were played in full, the others only extracts. I’ve also included an audio recording that you can listen to here. It includes the question and answer session which followed my keynote.
This is my paper given as part of the Movement for Cultural Democracy panel at the Raymond Williams Society Conference in Manchester on 26th April 2019. It’s a mash up of some previous work but I think it is a succinct account of where my thinking is at about cultural democracy and working-class culture.
The struggle for cultural democracy is part of our fight back against those who have always sought to keep us down – who have always told us: “KNOW YOUR PLACE!”
I know my place: it’s called HOME. We all have homes of one sort or another. And home is where we start from. Not art galleries or spectacles or museums or whatever else we are told are “cultured” places. HOME. This is the place where we build our own cultures, our way.
This is a film with narrative from a performance I gave in Belfast earlier this year about neoliberalism, instrumentalism and cultural democracy.
“We must trust in our individual and collective selves. We must remember our struggles. We must remember that official arts and culture and, for that matter, the creative industries, reflects only one rather small part of our arts and culture. We do not live in a cultural democracy. The cuts to state-sanctioned arts and cultural production makes this assertion starker as each day passes… And cultural policy, like fortune, has always favoured the rich and powerful.”