Last Tuesday evening (5th May), I took part in a discussion about arts and culture during and after Coronavirus. The event was organised by The World Transformed. I’m a strong supporter of this movement. For this session, it asked: “How can arts and cultural workers across the sector find new forms of solidarity during the Coronavirus crisis? How can we strengthen localised organising culture in the creative industries? What economic demands should arts and cultural workers be making in this current moment?”
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 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 the text version of my keynote paper I gave at the Culture and the Periphery conference at Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen on 4th October 2019.
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.
This is the text from my workshop “Caught doing social work?” which was part of Manifesta 12’s M12 Education Club conference in Palermo on 19th October 2018. The workshop was held in the community centre in the ZEN social housing project. The text was used as mini provocations which led to a really interesting discussion about instrumentalism of the arts and artists, gentrification and artwashing.
I am reposting this article which was originally published by Bella Caledonia here because it formed the basis for my keynote speech at Lancashire Arts Exchange along with the film A Cacophony of Crows which you can see here. It deals with the artwashing of Robin Hood Gardens by state agent, the V&A.
This is a film about V&A’s crass exploitation of council housing following its “acquisition” if some pieces of Robin Hood Gardens in the Labour controlled London borough of Tower Hamlets - a once iconic council housing estate that is being demolished to make way for luxury apartments. It was part of my keynote given as part of Lancashire Arts Exchange on 8th November 2018. I explored how this example of state-led artwashing relates to David Harvey’s arguments around how neoliberalism uses creative destruction and arts/culture/media as a means of re-enforcing class domination.
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.”
I was really privileged to be invited to take part in What Next for the Arts? - an afternoon symposium which was part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival - on 12th May 2018. As I like to do whenever I get the chance nowadays, I performed the piece with accompanying film and audio. This is the transcript... A test recording of the film will be uploaded soon...
This is the transcript and presentation with notes from my talk at Panda (The Performing Arts Network) in Manchester on 28th March 2018. The event was a celebration of the network's 15 years working with artists and communities but it was also tinged with sadness as they announced that they were unable to continue to operate due to the toxic arts funding environment and local council cuts. I spoke of two songs with two very different fields and two very different chains.
The first is the song of neoliberal state-sanctioned power and control; of compliance and conformity; of commerce and economics. This is the siren song of austerity and the systematic destruction of our communities, of our lives. This is the song that has sunk so many hopes and dreams.
The second song is that of childhood, of freedom, of creativity, of disobedience, of hope.