This article was first published in print in Sluice Magazine and then on their website in 2017. I've decided to publish it on my website because I hope its content still resonates in 2018. It addresses issues of instrumentalism in the arts, artwashing, living creatively and cultural democracy. As I wrote in 2017, I believe "it is still possible to conceive of art as part of living creatively, as part of everyday life, as local cultural democracy, as artistic autonomy." It's time to talk about how...Read More
This review was first published in November 2017 for Artworks Alliance. It was the first review of the book which is published by Bloomsbury and can be purchased here. I am publishing it on my blog in the hope of stimulating new discussion around cultural democracy, community arts and everyday art and creativity - an area I'm working on quite a lot at the moment.Read More
I was kindly asked to talk alongside Labour MP Laura Pidcock, Jessie Jo Jacobs (Policy and Campaigns Officer, Northern TUC) and Ramona McCartney (National Officer for the People's Assembly) at the People's Assembly event, "In Place of Austerity", in Newcastle on 20th January 2018. It was an incredibly inspiring day! This is the transcript for my talk...Read More
Plans to redevelop Elephant and Castle shopping centre and the surrounding area by tax-avoiding, Tory-supporting property developer Delancey and London College of Communication/University of the Arts London where rejected (subject to confirmation on 30th January 2018) by Southwark Council’s planning committee. It is understandable that arch-capitalists Delancey (owned by the notorious father and son property development partnership, the Ritblats) aren’t interested in local people and local communities, but what’s with LCC/UAL? Why would a top arts and design institution behave so aggressively to existing community members? The connections between the Ritblats and the Vice Chancellor of UAL are interesting. They reveal how the corporate takeover of high education and the arts are intersecting with the corporate takeover of our communities and our land.Read More
This is a video recording of my lecture entitled Rethinking the role of artists in regeneration contexts. It was recorded at Northumbria University on 24th November 2017. Includes a short Q&A at the end.Read More
This is the transcript of my 3 very short provocations presented to stimulate discussion during my workshop at the Sound Connections Social Justice Conference at Cecil Sharp House on 30th November 2017.Read More
The appointment of Rupert Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth Murdoch to Arts Council England’s National Council is not only deeply troubling, given her close ties to the Murdoch corporate empire, but is also a glaring example of how nefarious the UK arts establishment has become. The appointment of ex-Tate boss Sir Nicholas Serota as Chair of Arts Council England has clearly ushered in a new era of favouritism and nepotism in which a tiny select elite grease the palms of each other and their friends and family. This blog post explores a path from Serota to Murdoch via a Ukranian oligarch and his own wife, Teresa Gleadowe. It calls for an end to the corporate takeover of the arts!Read More
Much has been written about V&A’s decision to purchase a part of Robin Hood Gardens: an ex-council estate; more recently social housing. The estate is currently being demolished to make way for Blackwall Reach – a luxury property development. Campaigners fought to save Robin Hood Gardens: some because of its architectural significance; others because they believed in maintaining social housing. Yet the estate was not saved. This blog post argues that V&A are artwashing the demolition of social housing and the gentrification of East London...Read More
I was invited to lecture at Winchester School of Art on 3rd November 2017 as part of their Talking Heads series. This is a transcript of my lecture along with a link to my lecture slides (with notes) and a link to an edited recording of my discussion with Nick Stewart afterwards. The lecture covers a broad range of topics from my research including creative cities and the creative class, social capital, placemaking, artwashing, art and gentrification, anti-gentrification art, anti-art activism, the radical avant-garde, and examples of artists engaging with regeneration that do not result in artwashing or gentrification. It's quite long but perhaps gives an overall illustration of my work and a taste of my PhD thesis, Artwashing: The Art of Regeneration, Social Capital and Anti-Gentrification Activism.Read More
This is a very short response to the acquisition of a part of Robin Hood Gardens by the V&A museum. An ex-council housing estate, being demolished. I am horrified that a section will be displayed in the V&A galleries - once the social housing's been demolished and the working-class residents have been scattered.
This is an imagined narrative by Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A, political parachutist and Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds...Read More
This is a transcript of my paper I presented at the Edge | Situated Practice conference at Here East on Saturday 7th October 2017. The conference was organised by the UCL Urban Laboratory and the Folkestone Triennial, with additional support from the Bartlett School of Architecture and Slade School of Fine Art. There's a link to my PowerPoint presentation too. It was a really interesting conference and I think my paper provoked some challenging debate.Read More
This is a response to Anna Francis’s article entitled ‘Artwashing’ gentrification is a problem – but vilifying the artists involved is not the answer. It includes comments from myself, Emily Jost, Rab Harling and Ewan Allinson.Read More
I believe that there is not enough emphasis placed upon understanding the theoretical and historical perspectives and contexts of 'participation' that are, for me, crucially important to both practice and research that engages with people, place, power and politics. Similarly, I also believe that, whilst this field is situated within 'the social', there is not enough emphasis on how practice and research may fit with broader understandings of art and society, nor, for that matter, with wider theoretical from other interrelated disciplines. Too often I attend conferences or read articles about socially engaged art, participatory art and Creative People and Places only to find an often insular, narrow discussion of practice which often is positioned within existing frameworks of practice and research which themselves are often ultimately defined by the state.
This article therefore attempts to open up new ways of thinking about community development and social engagement in art programmes like Creative People and Places.Read More
There’s been a lot written about Boiler Room’s involvement with Notting Hill Carnival and its future funding from Arts Council England’s Ambition For Excellence programme to produce a film about the event. I do not intend to rehearse those discussions here. There have been many valid points raised on both sides of the argument. Rather, I want to address some serious issues that this fiasco raises about the role of public money in funding the arts in England. My contention here is not only that Arts Council England’s funding of Boiler Room does not meet the goals of the Ambition For Excellence programme, but that it also does not support their Creative Case for Diversity objectives either. Rather, it reinforces colonialism and white, upper and middle-class privilege. Indeed, this funding represents the deeply neoliberal agenda of turning art into a globally-marketed consumer product.Read More
This is a guest blog by Martin Daws. Martin is a Spoken Word Poet and Community Artist. Full-time freelance since 1999. Young People's Laureate for Wales 2013-2016. Check out his website and follow him on Twitter.
Martin came up with the idea of paying artists to work with communities instead of "investing" millions of pounds in "capital projects" such as arts centres. We chatted about it back in 2016 a bit and he came up with some figures back then. My take is similar but different to Martin's. I favour a simple system based upon replacing infrastructure projects with 10 year funding for community artists based on a scaled system proportionate to the size of each city, town or village. I recently tweeted this question: "Instead of a £50m art venue, a city could pay 200 artists £25k a year for 10 years to work with communities; do what they want. What do you think?" That's sort of my starting point. Martin has kindly agreed to lay out his first draft in a guest blog to hopefully stimulate more discussion and debate about this brilliantly simple, yet potentially life changing shift in how we think about arts funding and how it is distributed more equitably. I will respond in a blog post soon...Read More