BLOG

Jul
27

TIME FOR ARTISTS’ MUTUAL AID?

Perhaps, it’s time for artists to learn from the COVID-19 Mutual Aid groups that are self-organising and self-seeding across the UK and the globe? Imagine if artists set up local

Jul
26

THE NEED FOR ROBUST APPRAISAL OF RESEARCH IN ARTS AND HEALTH: A CASE OF ‘THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES’ (GUEST BLOG)

A GUEST BLOG BY DR STEPHEN CLIFT   In Stephen’s last guest blog in this series, he demonstrates that a highly cited arts and health paper is a ‘fairy tale’

Jul
25

THE NEED FOR ROBUST APPRAISAL OF RESEARCH IN ARTS AND HEALTH: STATISTICALLY SOPHISTICATED BUT SUBSTANTIVELY SUPERFICIAL (GUEST BLOG)

A GUEST BLOG BY DR STEPHEN CLIFT   In Stephen’s penultimate guest blog, for now, he provocatively argues that, sometimes at least, ‘research in arts and health can produce findings

Jul
23

THE NEED FOR ROBUST APPRAISAL OF RESEARCH IN ARTS AND HEALTH: QUESTIONS OF VALUE, RELEVANCE AND USEFULNESS (GUEST BLOG)

A GUEST BLOG BY DR STEPHEN CLIFT   This is the third guest blog by Stephen Clift. Here he asks questions about the value, relevance and usefulness of some research

Jul
22

THE NEED FOR ROBUST APPRAISAL OF RESEARCH IN ARTS AND HEALTH: MORE ON THE WHO (2019) REPORT (GUEST BLOG)

A GUEST BLOG BY DR STEPHEN CLIFT   In this second guest blog by Stephen Clift, he questions the WHO scoping review of arts and health (Fancourt and Finn, 2019),

Jul
12

ARTS, HEALTH AND WELLBEING: THE NEED FOR ROBUST APPRAISAL OF RESEARCH IN THE FIELD (GUEST BLOG)

A GUEST BLOG BY DR STEPHEN CLIFT   This guest blog by Dr Stephen Clift calls for a thorough appraisal of research about how art might contribute to health and

Jun
03

FIELD – AFTER JOHN BERGER

This is the transcript of a 4 minute talk I did as the first of The Parallel State’s RANT series. You can listen to the podcast here.

Remember what is was like to be sung to sleep?

May
20

GUEST BLOG: Archives of a Country Lost – A review of Cry, the Beloved Country by Gil-Mualem Doron by Ghazaleh Zogheib

This is a guest blog by curator and researcher Ghazaleh Zogheib. It’s a review of Gil Mualem-Doron’s exhibition Cry, the Beloved Country. Dr. Gil Mualem-Doron (1970) is an Arab-Jewish artist, born and based in the UK. His work is research-based, often collaborative and focuses on issues such as identity politics, nationalism, placemaking and histories of place, social justice, and transcultural aesthetics. His work has been exhibited in places such as the Turner Contemporary, Tate Modern, the South Bank Centre, People’s History Museum (Manchester), the Jewish Museum (London), and Haifa Museum of Art. His work is in several private collections and he has won commissions from organisations such as Counterpoints Arts, Brighton Pride, the Mayor of London and Ben & Jerry’s.

I’m pleased to be able to share this review of Mualem-Doron’s challenging and political exhibition in the week that marks the 72nd anniversary of the Nakba.

May
12

Kick up the Arts: Arts and Culture during and after Coronavirus. My contribution to The World Transformed Zoom conversation

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?”

May
08

MUCH MORE THAN MAKING DO

I wrote this article for Super Slow Way, the Creative People and Places programme in Pennine Lancashire. I’m their critical friend. This is a reflection on where Super Slow Way are now and where I think they’re going.

Apr
13

Duty Now for the Future 2.0

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?

Mar
31

More Today Than Yesterday (But Less Than There’ll Be Tomorrow) – my article for NUART Journal 2, September 2019…

Street art is an essential part of the Creative Class narrative. Every city has ‘up-and-coming’ areas clad from shop shutters to back alleys, sides of dilapidated buildings to shifty-looking subways, in what has become known as street art. This article argues that the now almost globally ubiquitous street art ‘movement’ has evolved from its roots in class and race conflict and anti-gentrification activism to become a perfect foil for neoliberal capitalism, forming a ‘gritty’ yet colourful backdrop to the Creative City ‘New Bohemias’ that seem to pop-up in every city, everywhere on the planet: a perfect tool in gentrifiers’ artwashing arsenals. Linking street art to ‘nostalgia narratives’, it looks at how street art was employed in New York’s Lower East Side in a doomed attempt to resist gentrification in the late 1970s and early 1980s, only for it to become the neighbourhood’s nemesis by creating a ‘ghetto’ aesthetic that helped sell it to cool and trendy incomers and the art world in general. But perhaps recuperation was and always will be inevitable?

Mar
16

Time to make solidarity and humanity our art

These are terribly dark and confusing times. Corona Virus has changed everything and it will wreak havoc for months to come at least. It is time to put our creativity to use in our communities. It is time to make solidarity and humanity our art.

Mar
03

Let’s Create An Artist in Every Community (and let’s create it now)…

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.

Feb
10

Community artists as free labour: Why Wiltshire Council’s “volunteer community artist” is an exploitative example of job substitution

This article is my response to the shocking “artist brief” recently published by Wiltshire Council asking for a “volunteer community artist” to do what is clearly a paid piece of work. It’s an example of the increasingly commonplace substitution of properly paid work for artists with free labour dressed up as volunteering. As such it undermines both the fragile arts economy and the reputation of volunteering.

Jan
11

A Charter For Renewed Cooperation?

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.

Nov
11

Live the Dream: A review of this year’s British Textile Biennial

As part of my work as critical friend for Creative People and Places project Super Slow Way, I decided to spend two days exploring as much of the festival as possible. My review focuses on what were, for me, the stand-out exhibitions and explores why it felt like the British Textile Biennial felt like two festivals in one.

Nov
06

Selvedge: Disobedience, Self-Organising and Working-Class Cultures

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.

Oct
09

We need a Movement of Cultural Movements Now!

This is a personal call for solidarity and collective support at this time of darkness and disarray. We are stronger together. Can we come together?

Oct
07

Low Culture: Neoliberalism, Conservative Social Practice and the Universal Marginality of Everyday Life

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.

Sep
17

More Today Than Yesterday (But Less Than There’ll Be Tomorrow)

This is the transcript from my keynote speech at Nuart Festival in Stavanger on 8th September 2019. It explores nostalgia narratives in Street Art and examines the practice’s links to gentrification. But perhaps we’re all gentrifiers nowadays?

Aug
28

How far can you go? – A question at the heart of my role as critical friend for Super Slow Way…

I visited Super Slow Way in June and July this year. This blog post reflects those visits and begins to pose the question at the heart of my role as critical friend for the Creative People and Places project.

Jul
22

The Hyper-Market Strikes Back! – Text from my talk for Market Forces at Swap Market, Govanhill…

This is the text from my talk for the Market Forces event at the Swap Market Govanhill in Glasgow on 18th July 2019. It looks at the role artists play in the game of neoliberal planned gentrification.

Jul
01

Living Creatively at a Time of Climate Catastrophe

This is a transcript of the brief provocation I gave at Environmental Engagement and the Politics of Creative Practice workshop at Open University in Camden on 27th June 2019 – part of the Doreen Massey Annual Event.

May
27

Demand the Impossible: New Communities and Concrete Human Existence

This is my paper I presented alongside Cara Courage and Sir Nick Serota at The Coming Community conference at MK Gallery on 24th May 2019. It followed by, overlaps with, and is linked to the keynote I did the previous day in Berlin (see previous post).

May
27

Place Guarding: An End to the Slow Violence of Creative Placemaking and Gentrification?

This is my keynote paper I presented at (Im)Possible Complicities conference in Berlin on 23rd May 2019… It overlaps intentionally with the paper I presented the following day in Milton Keynes which was entitled Demand the Impossible and will be posted here next.

May
10

“Our Boat”: Zombie Art Biennale Turns Venice Into The Island of the Living Dead

This is my attempt to explain the horror I feel witnessing the crass appropriation of a boat on which over 800 people (lumped together under the universally belittling term “migrants”) died when it sank in 2015 as an art object at this year’s Venice Biennale. I’m REALLY angry!

May
05

Home is Where We Start From

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.

Mar
26

Madder Roots and Acid House Witch Trials

This is the second of my blogs about my experiences of being a “properly critical critical friend” for Creative People and Places project, Super Slow Way. I talk about my experiences of spending time with artists Claire Wellesley Smith and Jamie Holman.

Feb
11

A properly critical critical friend – my first blog as Super Slow Way critical friend…

I’m very excited to be Super Slow Way’s critical friend. I have been critical of Creative People and Places in the past but have always been intrigued by Super Slow Way – its team and its approach to programming. This is the first blog post about my experiences.

Feb
08

Neoliberalism and the Arts

This is rough draft of a paper I’m writing at the moment. I’m becoming increasingly concerned by the infiltration of arts and culture by neoliberal capitalism. The publication of the Cultural Cities Enquiry and launch of London’s Creative Land Trust this week are, I argue, clear examples of the neoliberalisation and corporate takeover of the arts. This paper attempts to begin to explain how and why neoliberalism has invaded the arts.

Feb
08

Rule Britannia! 40 years after Derek Jarman’s cult film Jubilee was released, this clip sums up the sinister English nationalism behind #Brexit

“You wanna know my story babe. It’s easy. This is the generation that grew up and forgot to lead their lives. They were so busy watching my endless movie. It’s power babe, power. I don’t create it, I own it. I sucked and sucked and I sucked. The media became their only reality and I owned their world of flickering shadows. BBC. TUC. ITV. ABC. ATV. MGM. KGB. C of E. You name it, I bought them all and rearranged the alphabet. Without me, they don’t exist.”

Feb
04

Art, artists & Marx’s base and superstructure theory by Black Socialists of America

I came across an amazing thread by the Black Socialists of America (BSA) on Twitter . It is really interesting and aligns with many of my own arguments about artwashing and the instrumentalisation of art and artists. BSA gave me permission to reproduce the thread as a blog post. It is essential reading for anyone involved in arts and cultural activities.

Dec
19

Place Guarding: Activist Art Against Gentrification – my book chapter originally published earlier this year in “Creative Placemaking”

This is a copy of my book chapter which was published earlier this year in Creative Placemaking: Research, Theory and Practice (2018). The book is edited by Cara Courage and Anita McKeown and is published by Routledge.

Dec
12

Home is where we start from: Cultural Democracy and Working-Class Struggle

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.

Nov
15

Caught Doing Social Work? – Socially engaged art and the dangers of becoming social workers

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.

Nov
12

No Breathing Space: V&A, Artwashing & the Theft of Robin Hood Gardens (a reblog of an article I wrote for Bella Caledonia)

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.

Nov
12

A Cacophony of Crows – Film about how V&A’s theft of a piece of Robin Hood Gardens is artwashing as creative destruction and class redomination

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.

Sep
28

Response to Arts Council England’s ‘Cultural Democracy in Practice’ report

The Movement for Cultural Democracy has now had the opportunity to consider the Arts Council commissioned report ‘Cultural Democracy in Practice’. This is our response.

Sep
22

In my beginning is my end – a film about the impact of neoliberalism on our cultures, the instrumentalisation of art, & cultural democracy

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.”

Jul
16

Revenge of the Middle-Classes – conclusion to the first chapter of my unpublished book “New Bohemias: Artists, Hipsters & Gentrification”

This is the conclusion to the first chapter of my as yet unpublished book. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this chapter.

See previous posts for earlier sections…

Jul
16

Gentrification – part 5 of the first chapter of my unpublished book “New Bohemias: Artists, Hipsters & Gentrification”

This is the fifth section of the first chapter of my as yet unpublished book. The conclusion to this sample chapter will be published later today.

See previous posts for earlier sections…

Jul
15

New Bohemias – part 4 of the first chapter of my unpublished book “New Bohemias: Artists, Hipsters & Gentrification”

This is the forth section of the first chapter of my as yet unpublished book. See previous posts for earlier sections…

Jul
14

Hipsters: Gentrification’s Leeches & Parasites – part 3 of the first chapter of my unpublished book “New Bohemias: Artists, Hipsters & Gentrification”

This is the third section of the first chapter of my as yet unpublished book. See previous posts for earlier sections…

Jul
13
Jul
12

“Changing places – from Old Bohemias to New Bohemias” – Introduction 1/6 (part 2 tomorrow)

I am publishing the first chapter from my unpublished book New Bohemias: Artists, Hipsters and Gentrification in six parts – one a day from today onwards. I published the book introduction earlier today. A longer section of this chapter “Old Bohemias” will be published tomorrow…

Jul
12

New Bohemias: Artists, Hipsters & Gentrification – an introduction to an unpublished book

I began writing a book about artists and hipsters and gentrification. It’s a follow on from my article in the Guardian titled Hipsters and artists are the gentrifying foot soldiers of capitalism. The book remains unwritten although this is the introduction to the book proposal.

I will publish the first chapter, “Changing places – from Old Bohemias to New Bohemias”, in 6 instalments beginning with the chapter introduction this afternoon then the following subsections one a day from tomorrow onwards: “Old Bohemias”; “Hipsters – Gentrification’s Leeches and Parasites”; “New Bohemias”; “Gentrification”; and, finally, “Revenge of the Middle-Classes”.

Jun
22

Artwashing Social Space

I presented this paper at Art and the Urban symposium at Senate House last week. It reflects some of my PhD research.

Jun
07

‘Of the “Devil’s Party”: Creative Commons – A Marriage of Heaven and Hell? Test production of film and spoken word

This is the test recording of my paper given at Birkbeck (see previous blog post). It features film and a test recording of me reading from the paper. It contains bits of William Blake, Half Man Half Biscuit and a Trip to Trumpton…

Jun
07

‘Of the “Devil’s Party”: Creative Commons – A Marriage of Heaven and Hell?’ Transcript of recent talk at Birkbeck…

I took part in Communalities, urbanities and artistic commonalities – a symposium at Birkbeck School of Arts on 5th June 2018. This is a transcript of my talk. I billed it as the meeting of William Blake and Half Man Half Biscuit via a trip to Trumpton. There’s a video to accompany the talk which I’ll upload soon…

May
17

In my beginning is my end – transcript of my prose poem and film performed at Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Belfast

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…

May
14

SPEAR THISTLE – transcript of my performance prose poem for Imagined Biennales at Tate Exchange

I was invited to participate in the final day of Imagined Biennales which was produced by the University of Southampton at Tate Exchange on 13th May 2018. I wrote SPEAR THISTLE a non-manifesto for an Anti-Biennial. This is the transcript of my piece which I performed as a prose poem at the event.

Apr
13

Möbius – a performance lecture script from New Approaches to Counterculture at the Institute for the Advanced Study of the Humanities University of Edinburgh, 12th April 2018

This is the script for a performance lecture by Dawn Woolley and myself.  The performance was intentionally disruptive and disrupted.

The film with a spoken script will be available soon…

Apr
09

What cultural democracy means to me: Loraine Leeson, Artist and academic

Artist, academic and community arts specialist Loraine Leeson explains what cultural democracy means to her today.

Apr
04
Apr
04

What cultural democracy means to me: Julie Ward MEP.

Julie Ward MEP tells us what cultural democracy means to her.

Mar
29

What cultural democracy means to us: Culture Matters Co-Operative.

Reflections on cultural democracy and the Movement for Cultural Democracy from Culture Matters Co-Operative.

Mar
29

What cultural democracy means to me: Rose Gibbs.

Thoughts on cultural democracy from Rose Gibbs.

Mar
29

What cultural democracy means to us: PCS Culture Group

The PCS Culture Group welcome the Movement for Cultural Democracy.

Mar
29

What cultural democracy means to me: Hassan Mahamdallie.

Hassan Mahamdallie reflects on what cultural democracy means to him.

Mar
29

The field upon which you walk and upon which the chain is laid is the song. A transcript of my talk @panda_arts & link to my presentation with notes.

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.

Mar
26

Welcome

Hello and welcome to our new website and new blog.

We are a growing movement for cultural democracy. We believe cultural democracy is a radical political project and we want everyone interested in cultural democracy to get involved.

Mar
02

Culture is BAE Systems Britain. The Great Exhibition of the North: “Family-friendly fun”, the corporate takeover of the arts & the maker of weapons used to kill families

This blog is a brief response to the artwashing of the Great Exhibition of the North, particularly the inclusion of BAE Systems as a “premier partner” of the event, which is billed as the UK’s biggest event for 2018. There’s a campaign to force event organisers to remove BAE Systems from the list of sponsors and I’m a member, but I want to consider the following questions in relation to the scandal: a) Who really organises the exhibition? b) Where is the money coming from? c) Who decides on sponsors? I suggest the arts community in the North East may have had little, if any choice in the decision to brand the event with a weapons manufacturer with a terrible reputation.

Feb
14

Extracting New Cultural Value From Urban Regeneration: The Intangible Rise of the Social Capital Artist

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…

Feb
09

Dandelions & dissent: A review of ‘Culture, Democracy and the Right to Make Art: The British Community Arts Movement’ edited by Alison Jeffers & Gerri Moriarty

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.

Jan
22

The Status Quo Will No Longer Do! (The Corporate Takeover of Art & Artwashing, or Social Justice in a Cultural Democracy?)

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…

Jan
19

Old Boys Network: Elite connections can’t prevent local people from defeating University of the Arts London & offshore property developer Delancey plan for social cleansing of Elephant & Castle

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.

Dec
21

Rethinking the role of artists in regeneration contexts – video of my recent lecture at Northumbria University

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.

Dec
19

Neoliberalism, language and engagement – A workshop

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.

Dec
15

Elisabeth Murdoch’s appointment to Arts Council England National Council is a corporate takeover of the arts – a takeover facilitated by Sir Nicholas Serota and his wife Teresa Gleadowe

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!

Nov
13

Robin Hood Gardens. V&A: The not-so-very-arms-length state-led artwashing of state-led gentrification and social cleansing

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…

Nov
13

Rethinking the role of artists in urban regeneration contexts

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.

Nov
10

“We salvaged a slice of those streets in the sky” – an imagined conversation with Tristram Hunt

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…

Oct
13

A brief art history of art, property and artwashing

This is a short article that aims to explain my arguments about artwashing.  It focuses on art’s long-standing relationship to property, power and publicity.

Oct
09

Artists Against Artwashing: Anti-Gentrification & the Intangible Rise of the Social Capital Artist

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.

Oct
06

Challenging the artwashing of social cleansing means calling out & critiquing artists involved

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.

Sep
06

Participating without power: The limits of instrumentalised engagement with people & place

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.

Sep
01

Boiling over. The Boiler Room’s white, elite colonial appropriation of Notting Hill Carnival

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.

Aug
23

Give us a wage & let us spread the love: a guest blog by @martindaws – £25k a yr for artists not £50m for arts centres

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…

Aug
23

ORANGE PAINT AND FIBRE GLASS FRIGGIN SHEEP: A conversation about artists & communities & life

This is a transcript of another Twitter conversation between @rattlecans and the poet Martin Daws.  It stemmed from my tweet, which reflected Martin’s call for paid artists in place of multi-million pound art centres.  I asked: “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?”  This is what happened…

Aug
23

THEY HAVE HEDGES – WE GET FENCES: A conversation about working class childhoods

This is a (slightly edited) transcript of a Twitter conversation which stemmed from the guest blog by @Rattlecans entitled Old Space Taken.  The conversation is about memories of living on council estates and anger at what’s happened since…

Aug
23

An open letter to Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England from artist Richard Parry about arts organisation V22

I received this letter from Richard Parry as a comment to my blog post entitled SHHH, BE QUIET! (Reflective prose about library closures, Arts Council England & middle-class asset stripping.)  Richard has been researching the arts organisation V22 for some time (as have I).  His letter which he has agreed to publish as a blog post here instead of a comment is the result of his research and relates to a number of Freedom of Information requests he has made to Arts Council England.

Aug
21

Old Space Taken – a guest blog by @Rattlecans about a once-strong community, now lost

This is a guest post by @Rattlecans – an outspoken voice on Twitter who I very much respect.  Written in 2012, it’s a re-blog from The Ragged University project.  The original can be found hereOld Space Taken is about a once-strong community, now lost.  Powerful and personal, it’s a must read.

Aug
19

SHHH, BE QUIET! (Reflective prose about library closures, Arts Council England & middle-class asset stripping.)

This is my attempt to reflect upon the closure of libraries in the UK under a rainbow cloak of austerity provided by propaganda from the Arts Council England…

Jul
28

The Morris Justice Project, South Bronx. Participatory Action Research. Social Justice.

The Morris Justice Project in South Bronx is an inspirational work.  Watch a short film and find out more here…

Jul
28

Gentrification is a dirty word, so artwash it! My paper from AHRC CDT Conference at BALTIC

This is my paper which I presented at the Northumbria-Sunderland AHRC Centre for Doctoral Training Art and Design Research Annual Conference at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead on 25th July 2017.  Powerpoint and PDF versions can be downloaded here too…

Jul
26

An open letter to Simon Elmer & @ASH_Housing in response to “Ambition: The Green-eyed Twitter Troll”

Architects for Social Housing – or Simon Elmer and Geraldine Dening – have accused me of trolling and a whole lot of other things.  I have been rethinking my work in recent months and felt it was time to work together with people from a broad range of interests.  To admit I was being too purist.  To advocate for dissent and disagreement and for solidarity.  I still do.  I stand by my concerns about ASH but I also think they do a great job at raising awareness of the social housing crisis and advocating for the rights of social housing tenants.

This is an open response to Simon James Elmer who wrote the blog on ASH’s website accusing me of trolling.

Jul
21

Art Gets Over-Excited: A response to the Towards cultural democracy report #culturaldemocracy

This is the second of two blog posts examining recently published reports.  The first post focused on the civic role of arts organisations.  This post is a response to Towards cultural democracy: Promoting cultural capabilities for everyone and some of the other discussions that developed from its publication.

Jul
18

Carry on regardless: A response to “Rethinking Relationships” – a new report about the #civicrolearts

Two new reports were recently released about how the arts and creativity might engage with society and communities in more meaningful ways.  The first was Rethinking Relationships – an enquiry into the civic role of arts organisations commissioned by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation; the second was Towards cultural democracy, commissioned by Kings College London.  Both reveal, for me, different and yet loosely interrelated attempts to find new ways to advocate for the arts or “everyday creativity”.  This is the first of two blog posts in which I begin to critically examine the reports.  The focus here is on Rethinking Relationships.

Jun
25

V22 PLC. Artist studios, ex-libraries, tax avoidance:Transnational Artwashing

I’ve written about the complex artwashing activities of Isle of Man registered V22 PLC and its “group” of associated companies before, first here, then an interlude, then a second piece here.  This blog post seeks to reveal some of the interrelated layers of complexity involved in the artwashing of London’s art studios, regeneration areas, communities, ex-libraries and public buildings.  It presents information and research.  It does not claim that anything illegal is happening.  It does, however, reveal links and interests way beyond the art world and, for that matter, London.  This is, for me, is perhaps the most intricate form of artwashing I’ve encountered.  There are links to alleged tax avoidance, scandals and corporate vested interests.  Nothing illegal but perhaps, I suggest, unethical.  This is transnational artwashing.  All of the information presented here is publicly available.  There is more to come…

Jun
17

Artwashing: Social Capital & Anti-Gentrification Activism

This is the text from my presentation delivered at Kings College London on Tuesday 13th June 2017.  It discusses artwashing, social capital, socially engaged art and anti-gentrification activism.  In the talk/text, I attempt to define five forms of artwashing and suggest that ‘community artwashing’ is the most pernicious and deceitful.  The paper is derived and developed from elements of my PhD research.

May
25

Participating without power: The limits of instrumentalised engagement with people & place

 

This article seeks to reveal the limitations of state-initiated arts and cultural projects as well as spurious notions of ‘empowerment’ by examining them in terms of homogeneity, universality and technocracy.  It focuses on issues of instrumentalism with the arts and explores how state-initiated ‘community engagement’ programmes like Creative People and Places may effectively reproduce state agendas linked to social capital theory and thereby to neoliberalism.  It asks a series of questions: Whose values really underpin cultural value?  Who are ‘we’ and who are ‘we’ trying to ‘engage’?  Whose culture are ‘we’ trying to (re)make and why?  Do ‘we’ need new infrastructure; more managers?  Do people in areas of low cultural engagement have their own forms of culture that some may just not consider ‘cultured’?  If cultural democracy offers a different view of people power, so why is it loathed by the state?

May
22

ASHwash: Architects for Social Housing AND for Establishment Values?

This blog post is about ASH – Architects for Social Housing.  It uncovers a different side to ASH’s founder that is rooted in the establishment and seeks to work with local councils to promote citizenship and art as a public good.  It suggests that these values (and others) are at odds with the aggressive and passionately political persona often adopted by ASH.  ASH’s work has been outstanding but is it all it appears?

May
05

Artwashing: From Mining Capital to Harvesting Social Capital – Cardiff presentation

I did a talk at Diffusion ‘Revolution’ Festival Symposium at Cardiff University today.  I’ve uploaded my presentation with notes here.  Click the link below to read it and remember to turn notes on in bottom right hand corner of presentation when it loads…  The talk is called Artwashing: From Mining Capital to Harvesting Social Capital.

Mar
30

Artwashing London #2: Art’s complex web of financial investments – an ethical dilemma

The first post in this series, Artwashing London, explored V22 and its alter-ego V220 in a little detail, linking its group of companies to its headquarters in the Isle of Man.  It asked why would an arts organisation apparently interested in social impact want to register its activities in a tax haven?

This second post looks in more detail at some more of V22’s connections and compares its stated aims to its other directly or indirectly linked corporate interests.  This is a trail from London to the Isle of Man to Africa and back again.  I do not suggest that anything illegal has happened but there are several ethical questions that, in my opinion, should be answered.

Mar
30

Artwashing & gentrification (or the deeply interwoven web of arts & corporate interests)

I recently wrote a blog post about Artwashing London.  It looked at V22 and its connections to corporate interests and offshore company headquarters.  I will write another shortly and more about different cases I think could be classed as artwashing after that.

It is important that I explain my rationale.  This is not a conspiracy.  This is global capitalism underpinned by neoliberal ideology.  Nothing illegal but perhaps unethical?

Mar
27

Artwashing London – ‘Artist-led’ Studios, Library Takeovers, GLA Cultural Advisors, Property Developers & Offshore Tax Havens

London is awash with ‘artist-led’ initiatives that use ‘meanwhile’ spaces as temporary galleries, studios and all the usual stuff.  There are many bigger companies doing this too.  Nothing new here.  Sometimes, like in the case of Bow Arts and Balfron Tower, for example, they are rightly called out for artwashing.  There are many more cases of artwashing now than ever before.  More and more people are getting interested in its cynical misrepresentation of arts and culture as a ‘community good’ when really art is used as a front for big businesses, national and local government ‘regeneration’, property investors and a whole host of other people wanting to make a profit from, what is for many people, social cleansing.  Even artists are getting in on the artwashing act.

But why would any arts organisation want to set up its primary base in a tax haven –  particularly one who claim to be all about supporting local people and local economies?  And, why would Arts Council England and the Mayor of London (amongst others) be happy giving funds to a company that’s ultimately based in the Isle of Man?

This is the tale of one such case – V22, an ‘artists-led’ and, indeed, ‘artists owned’ arts organisation with a few different incarnations.  It’s a bit complex, but that seems to be how they like it.  It is one part of a mammoth case of interrelated artwashing that’s going on in London right now.

Mar
04

The Idea: Profitable Business “As If” Performance Art (or The Complexities of Artwashing)

This is a reblog (with additions) of a post that was originally posted anonymously on LSE Sociology blog.  I must explain a few things.  I wasn’t comfortable being anonymous because, as a fellow activist said, anonymity is the greatest dispossession.  So here it is on my own site.  I stand by my work but must explain that my issue is not with the ESRC research nor with anyone involved in the forthcoming research project.  I am only interested in exploring The Idea – Platform-7 and what I consider to be an example of artwashing.  It is also important to note that this work is personal and not connected to anything else I am involved with professionally.  I consider this part of my ongoing activist work: an intervention; a performance; research as practice (praxis); art (or perhaps anti-art).  It is an act of resistance and a critique.  If this is problematic, I’m happy to explain more.

Feb
17

Duty Now For The Future: Can #SocialAction really co-produce us out of this SHIT?

SOCIAL ACTION NOW! A new anthem for “shared society” Tories and for all the compliant public sector workers. Social workers, community groups, volunteers, cultural organisations, everyone! SOCIAL ACTION NOW!  DUTY NOW FOR THE FUTURE! [Repeat ad infinitum…]

I ask: “Can social action really co-produce us out of this SHIT?”

This is a short blog post.  That’s all I feel is needed.

Jan
09

Tell me again, why do arts organisations (really) want to work in communities?

Tell me again, why do you want to work in Stockton? asks ARC Stockton chief executive Annabel Turpin.  Of course, this question could apply anywhere and, I argue here, it could also be applied more deeply, perhaps.

Annabel Turpin’s blog about the invasion of London arts organisations in ‘the regions’ reflects a growing sense of frustration within regional arts organisations who feel they are not treated as equals in many such ‘partnerships’.  I argue here that the same thing is in fact happening within the regions – that large Arts Council England funded ‘local’ arts organisations are going into their communities with the same lack of understanding and for the same reasons.

Jan
03

Art, theory, practice & politics: Differences, not “one culture”. A response to François Matarasso

This blog post follows on from yesterday’s critique of Stella Duffy’s call for action towards the creation of a “new culture”.  It is a response both to François Matarasso’s thoughtful and challenging critique of my blog post and an attempt to answer the people who asked what my basis was for my critique, what my practice was, what alternative perspectives I might have.  I fear this post will prove unsatisfactory to many as I do not claim to offer singular nor even collective solutions that will ever be acceptable to “everyone”.  Nevertheless, here goes…

Jan
02

Unlock the all-inclusive fun of a “new culture” with added “genius in everyone” NOW! (A reply to Stella Duffy’s New Year provocation & arts “campaigns” like Fun Palaces)

A new year.  A cultural event.  Not all cultures.  Our culture’s.

Traditionally, at least in our culture, a time of misadvised, soon misplaced resolutions.  Most are very personal.  The one I want to talk about here is “for everyone”.  Yes, that’s right, everyone!  It’s an all-inclusive provocation.  A call for change, for cultural change.

The call comes from Stella Duffy on behalf of her Fun Palaces campaign.  The campaign manifesto claims:

We believe in the genius in everyone, in everyone an artist and everyone a scientist, and that creativity in community can change the world for the better.

We believe we can do this together, locally, with radical fun – and that anyone, anywhere, can make a Fun Palace.

Dec
23

Creative Placemaking, Or a Violently Anti-Working-Class Vision of the Urban Pastoral

Some short thoughts on the violence of creative placemaking…

Dec
12

The New Rules of Public Art (NOW), or The New Situations of Situations

This blog post reflect some draft writing from my PhD research.  The focus here is on Situations; particularly some of their publications and projects in the UK and further afield.  The central argument I attempt to make is that Situations’ work often directly or indirectly derives from culture- or arts-led regeneration and that this links the organisation to instrumentalism and to gentrification.  Situations are, of course, careful to avoid these perspectives…

Nov
27

Complexity, uncertainty & scalability: How Assemble’s Granby 4 Streets won 2015 Turner Prize

Did Assemble really play such a big part in Granby 4 Streets?  How ‘community-led’ was the project?  What was the role of the Community Land Trust?  How did Assemble come to win the Turner Prize 2015?  Who were the private social investors and what did they do to help make the project happen?

he intention here is to blow open the façade behind Granby 4 Streets, Assemble and the Turner Prize 2015 win.

his is a long read and part of my research into art-led regeneration projects that are often far more complex than is often portrayed.

argue that the media and art world picture of Assemble is overly simplistic and masks a far more complex and uncertain set of events that, ultimately, relied on ‘mystery’ private social investors to force local government to act in support of the project and to lever money from national grant funders.

Nov
21

If only Balfron Tower could talk, if only we could see – an ode those in social housing so cruelly dispossessed

This is a re-blog of a guest post I wrote on 20th September 2016 for the Balfron Social Club.  An ode to Balfron Tower and its dispossessed residents…

Nov
08

Wake up UK art & culture! I, Daniel Blake shames us all. We should be ANGRY!

I watched , Daniel Blake with my wife this weekend.  It left me feeling very, very sad and REALLY FUCKING ANGRY!

This is not a review nor a summary.  This is my personal attempt to come to terms with the FOUL WORLD we have all somehow managed to allow to creep into being!  I am SO FUCKING ANGRY!

Oct
27

Opportunty areas Pt 3: The Artists and The Puppet Masters – A Cautionary Tale

This is the final part of a three-part series about “opportunity areas”.  The first two blog posts in the series, Unearthing socially engaged art’s complicity in the gentrification of Elephant & Castle nd ‘There for the taking’, focused on three artists who I suggested were complicit in gentrification by working for state-funded initiatives like Creative People and Places and with property developers Delancey in the soon-to-be-demolished shopping centre at Elephant and Castle.  I know quite a few people felt I had been unfair, aggressive, vitriolic, indignant and cynical.  I was at pains to explain that the tale I told was not unique nor unusual.  Socially engaged art is commonly used as a form of placemaking.  The examples I described in the work of Eva Sajovic, Rebecca Davies and Sarah Butler were mundane.  A perhaps crass attempt to illustrate much bigger problems in our lives that are mirrored in art practices.

Oct
25

Opportunity areas Part 2: ‘There for the taking’ – (Re)writing gentrification & placemaking

This is part two of a three-part series of posts about Opportunity Areas.  Part one is here.

Part two explores Sarah Butler’s work in a little more detail.  Creative consultations, writing stories for Creative People and Places, advocacy of socially engaged writing as part of regeneration agendas, poetry hoardings ‘covering’ demolished social housing sites whilst new builds spring up and working for the New Deal for Communities.  It reveals, perhaps, how artists can be increasingly drawn into complicit relationships with local councils, the state, funders, charities, schools and property developers.

Oct
24

Opportunity areas – Part 1: Unearthing socially engaged art’s complicity in the gentrification of Elephant & Castle

Everyone loves an opportunity don’t they?  What about a whole area of opportunities: an Opportunity Area?  Investors love them.  Property developers love them.  Local councils love them.  The State loves them.  Even (some) artists love them.  Opportunities for all!  (Well, not people living in social housing … Oh, and not homeless people … Erm, and not market stall holders … Low income families who bought their own council home? No!)

This blog post explores the art world equivalent of MI5 – the socially engaged artists – the creative secret service for third wave gentrification, who, unlike the pioneering, colonial foot soldiers of first and second wave gentrification, do not necessarily live in gentrifying areas and are paid to infiltrate soon-to-be-decanted communities of social housing tenants, low income home owners, market stall holders and small shopkeepers, even, on occasion, homeless people.

Oct
16

People, Place, Power (or othering and disempowering culturally different people)

This is a little part of a draft section of my PhD thesis.  It examines Creative People and Places, particularly, their People, Place, Power: Increasing Arts Engagement conference, suggesting empowerment may not be all it’s cracked up to be, especially when ‘delivered’ by state-sanctioned, instrumentalising arts organisations and artists – the foot soldiers of state social art provision…

Oct
09

A tabloid for the privileged: White elephants in a #HiddenCivilWar room?

This is a short response to my experience of taking part in Tabloid for the Oppressed, an invite-only event that was part of the Hidden Civil War programme at the Newbridge Project in Newcastle upon Tyne.  A critical reflection not about the aims of the event but rather about the strange feeling I got when I realised I was at an arts event about ‘the oppressed’ at which the participants were almost 100% white, where there were more men than women, where the presenters were all men, where most people there were from a certain class and possessed higher-than-normal levels of cultural capital.

Sep
26

Robin Hood Gardens – Millennium “Breathing Space” strangled by Blackwall Reach

I recently walked around Robin Hood Gardens in the company of Rab Harling and Adam Greenfield as part of my ongoing research into gentrification and acts of resistance.  These are my reflections…

Sep
21

If only Balfron Tower could speak, if only we could see. My new blog for @BalfronSocial

I wrote a short blog post for the lovely people at Balfron Social Club.  Here’s an embedded version.  Check out their site for loads more brilliant writing and information about Balfron Tower.

Sep
17

Can you measure ‘great’ art? An imaginary conversation…

This blog post is a first draft of a spoken word performance script as yet unperformed. It is inspired by a ludicrous reference in this blog about the ludicrous forced adoption of Quality Metrics by Arts Council England.  Simon Mellor is their Executive Director.  He makes rather odd reference to Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party (1957), a play that is, of course, all about the killing of individuality, of an individual at the hands of Kafkaesque state conformity; about conformist brainwashing and execution.  The agents of the state in The Birthday Party are McCann and Goldberg.  I imagine a conversation between these two agents of the “hard” state and Simon (Mellor), a representative of culture, or state “soft” power.  Webber (also referred to as Stanley) is the unfortunate recipient of an incessant barrage of state-sanctioned pressure to comply, to conform.  Petey is an old man: quiet but also considerate.

All words are quotes from either Simon Mellor’s blog or from he Birthday Party script.

The performance would be interspersed with propaganda images from Arts Council England’s website…

Sep
13

Hipsters and artists are the gentrifying foot soldiers of capitalism

This is my first article for The Guardian Comment is Free section.  I’ve added my own pic here…

It’s a response to Matt Hancock’s recent maiden speech about UK arts and culture in which he said, “The hipster is a capitalist.”

I’d love your feedback…

Sep
05

“Always Outsiders”: my Royal Geographical Society paper and presentation – rural social praxis

Always Outsiders is about playing and experiencing the presence of people, environment, nature.  It is a reflective piece about two pieces of cooperative work: amb ith Lee Mattinson; and orthernGame with Stevie Ronnie.  Both pieces are set in the North Pennines in South West Northumberland, an area I made home for almost eight years.  A space in which my wife and I often found a solace of sorts from the city.  A place where our children first set foot in the world; where they were immersed in nature.

The full title of my paper is the deliberately clunky, lways Outsiders: Map-less Social Sractice Art in the Ancient Landscape of a Global Geopark.  It attempts to fuse theory with practice, practice with theory.  Thought and unthought experiences are proposed as mediators.

This blog post includes my Royal Geographical Society 2016 Conference paper as well as links to the presentation and a PDF version of the paper for printing.

Aug
25

Always Outsiders: Map-less Social Practice Art in the Ancient Landscape of a Global Geopark (ABSTRACT)

Smelt.  Clart.  Pitch.  Clay.  Pit.  Hit.  Bray.  Hob.  Hoy.  Words overheard on map-less meanders over still-chartered grouse moors.  Stories told and retold by blazing public house firesides.  Cautionary tales.

This is the abstract for my forthcoming paper presentation at the Royal Geographical Society 2016 International Conference in London on 2nd September.  The session is explores “The Nexus of Art and Geography: practice as research”, is part of the Participatory Geographies Research Group activities and is convened by Cara Courage (University of Brighton, UK) and Anita McKeown (Independent Researcher).

Aug
22

The Right and Freedom to a Home: My introduction to Theresa Easton’s new artist book

Everyone has the right and freedom to a home, don’t they?  And yet, so many people are homeless in the UK, in Europe, across the entire planet; displaced by war, oppression, climate change and the imperialistic march of global capitalism.  The United Nations are concerned: deeply concerned.

heresa Easton’s superb new book explores housing crises and homelessness.  She kindly asked me to write the introduction.  Here’s the draft published with the author’s permission.

Aug
10

I’ve moved to a new blog page…

HELLO, I’VE MOVED MY BLOG TO SQUARESPACE. CLICK HERE FOR NEW BLOG PAGES

Aug
09

PARTICIPATION ON TRIAL: STATE-SANCTIONED ART – A DEMOCRATIC SWINDLE

This was my prosecution witness statement from the excellent Participation on Trial event organised by the lovely Chrissie Tiller and Goldsmiths from May 2015.

I think it remains as relevant to me as it did more than a year ago but I would say that I was a little over-generous in my support for socially engaged art – a term now so completely appropriated by the Institution of Art that it effectively is THE SAME AS participatory art.  Perhaps my views have hardened?  Anyway, I now have claimed socially engaged art is DEAD – twice!  Undoubtedly, I will do so again…

The (eventual) verdict was “GUILTY – BUT WHO CARES?”  Do you care?

Aug
01

The existential crisis of Owen Jones (or Do as the MSM say!)

Image (c) Mark McGowan @chunkymark http://theartisttaxidriver.blogspot.gr/?m=0 Owen Jones’s blog, Questions all Jeremy Corbyn supporters need to answer, is rather odd. It’s as if he’s having (or had) an existential crisis. Labour’s low

Jul
14

On Location – Unwelcome!

WHAT?!? £350 per head stalking tours around Southwark for agents of #gentrification! RESIST! via @HousingActionSL

Jun
28

Stand up for Socialism NOW!

  So the Parliamentary Labour Party want Corbyn out via a new leadership election… Firstly, fair en0ugh.  That’s their privilege.  Secondly, they always wanted Corbyn out; they never thought he

Jun
26

The Fear of Freedom: The Act of Living

I am VERY angry.  These are incredibly uncertain times. The UK is boiling over with a hatred and sense of alienation whisked up by UK and international self-interest – by the

Jun
17

Murder, xenophobia, hatred and the irrelevance of Art

We live in terrible times.  I feel sad about the world.  I feel angry. The murder of the superbly dedicated Labour MP Jo Cox is incredibly upsetting.  She stood up for her

May
15

SOCIALLY ENGAGED ART IS DEAD (Part Tw0): Who done it?

  I claim socially engaged art is DEAD.  (Whether it ever lived or even existed beyond a category description is, of course, another question.)  The Art World is DEAD.  So,

May
13

SOCIALLY ENGAGED ART IS DEAD (Part One)

I Like America and America Likes Me, Joseph Beuys, 1974   THEY killed it. Killed another word. (Three words actually.) Death by Art. Slowly. Slowly, THEY killed some words: A slow process.

May
01

Art & Life? Culture, (Anti)Aesthetics, Anti-Art, Activism & Social Practice

This is my full paper given as a lecture at Northumbria University in Newcastle on Wednesday 27th April 2016.  It is the beginnings of an attempt to free radical social practice

Apr
07

GREAT Art for THEM, #everydaycreativity for everyone else!

A provocation for the Everyday Creativity Session at University of Warwick 6th April 2016 This is the paper I presented.  I have included some of the slide images in the

Apr
01

The Culture White Paper: Shakespeare Lives

Brilliant blog by Andrew Latimer about the Culture White Paper’s almost limitless failings! For me, it’s a nonsense document by Tories. Be VERY afraid…

Mar
31

From creative placemaking to “stewardship” for future wellbeing: the anti-academic turn. #AAG2016

I admit to being rather surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response to my presentation “Place Guarding: Activist and Social Practice Art – Direct Action Against Gentrification” at the Association of

Mar
29

Place Guarding: Activist & Social Practice Art – Direct Action Against Gentrification #AAG2016 PowerPoint & Filmed Presentation

I’ve just shared my full paper from the Association of American Geographers Conference here but I thought some people might like to see the PowerPoint with notes or rather, I

Mar
29

Place Guarding: Activist & Social Practice Art – Direct Action Against Gentrification Full #AAG2016 Paper

I’ve just presented my paper “Place Guarding: Activist and Social Practice Art – Direct Action Against Gentrification” at the Association of American Geographers Conference 2016 in San Francisco.  I wasn’t

Mar
25

Place Guarding: Activist and Social Practice Art – Direct Action Against Gentrification

  This is the abstract for my paper presentation at the Association of American Geographers Conference 2016 in San Francisco. I’ll be presenting it at a session on 29th March

Mar
17

Participating without power: The limits of instrumentalised engagement with people & place

This is a copy of my abstract submitted for the forthcoming Creative People and Places conference entitled (unbelievably) People, Place, Power.  It was rejected.  Perhaps it was not academic enough

Mar
17

ARTLAND: Flagship arts & culture for some, catastrophic cuts for everyone else #Budget2016

http://eil.com/images/main/The+The+Heartland+109120.jpg Arts Council EnglandBeneath the old iron bridges, across the Victorian parks And all the frightened people running home before dark Past the Saturday morning cinema that lies crumbling to

Mar
04

Assemble Useful Art. Call it Socially Engaged. Everyone’s a (Turner Prize) Winner!

I’m an art historian.  A critical art historian.  Context is as important as text (artwork) to me.  Works of art, whether “art” made by “artists” or “not-art” made by “not-artists”,

Dec
21

Artists offered NO PAY for 5 months of ‘Art workshops for people with learning disabilities’!

We all know times are tough for everyone and this includes artists.  We all know the ideology of austerity is a lie (I hope!)  It’s becoming increasingly difficult for artists

Dec
15

What Next for North East arts & culture? Democracy NOT technocracy

I went along to What Next? Newcastle Gateshead’s The future of culture in the North East: What, Who, When? event at Dance City in Newcastle last Friday (11th December 2015). 

Dec
07

Art, oil, politics & empire: #Deadline Festival shatters democratic facade of arts institution

There have been many brilliant interventions at major UK arts institutions recently primarily focusing on fossil fuel funding.  Collectives like Art not Oil, Liberate Tate, Reclaim the Bard and many

Nov
30

The Values Of Opposition in Socially Engaged Practice (a response to Anthony Schrag)

Ken Saro-Wiwa Memorial Bus, large format digital print, part of Doing Nothing is Not an Option, Michael McMillan and Platform London, Peckham Platform, 2015   I was, like Anthony Schrag

Nov
24

Reblog: Art and (In)equality–a film of my provocation @CREATEglos event on 1st June 2015

All this talk of “revelatory” discovery that arts and culture are exclusive makes me remember my talk at CREATEglos in July. Click the link to see the film… Source: Art

Nov
22

Hurrah, the Culture is Finished!

This blog post initially vented some of my concerns about cultural policy and cultural value in particular. Nearly two years old, its premise still drives much of my practice and

Nov
17

northernGAME: Social practice in rural South West Northumberland

I gave this presentation on 16th November 2015 at Durham University’s Participatory Research Hub.  The event aimed to explore what happens “when participatory research meets the creative sector”.  My presentation

Nov
04

Do we need to develop institutions to work with communities? Can’t artists work directly with and within communities? A response to #CommunityArts conference at The Black-E

Dotto, Courtesy of The Black-E. I asked the two questions in my title as an immediate response to a panel entitled ‘What kind of organisation do we need to develop to

Oct
23

RUINED HOUSE: an act of public reading, Gateshead Millennium Bridge, 23/10/15

Ruined House – an act of public reading – took place today between 10.45am and 11.45am on the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. The first of a new series of public interventions

Oct
16

There is no alternative: THE FUTURE IS SELF-ORGANISED–2 texts for artists opposing neoliberalism PT1

There are two texts that have been at the centre of my thinking for many years; inspirational works that demand structural change and true cultural democracy.  I’m sharing them here

Oct
16

There is no alternative: THE FUTURE IS SELF-ORGANISED–2 texts for artists opposing neoliberalism PT2

There are two texts that have been at the centre of my thinking for many years; inspirational works that demand structural change and true cultural democracy.  I’m sharing them here

Oct
06

BUILD BIG NEW ARTS CITADELS NOW! (Big, THEY say, is better.)

Clambering men in big bad bootsDug up my den, dug up my roots.Treated us like plasticine townThey build us up and knocked us down.   From Meccano to Legoland, Here

Jul
30

Arise street-crack Buddleias–why socially engaged artists must attempt to storm the citadels

I was invited to attend Storming the Citadels? Changing attitudes and frameworks to arts practices and research in community settings by Sophie Hope. As an admirer of Sophie’s research and

Jul
16

Do we need ‘another name’ for socially engaged art? Erm, No…

Eavesdropping, Aidan Moesby, Vinyl wall text, 2014 I’m intensely interested in perceptions of socially engaged art: past, present and future practice and theory. My research and practice is about exploring

Jul
12

THE NATIONAL FUNDING SCHEME IS A SCANDAL. A ‘SCHEME’ IN THE MOST NEGATIVE SENSE. A SCAM.

Cor! What a Bargain! Michael Landy, 1992 Liz Hill’s revelations about the National Funding Scheme in Arts Professional this week are undoubtedly shocking. How has the art world reacted to

Jul
08

ARTS & CULTURAL WORKERS–STRUGGLE NOW AGAINST CREEPING NEOLIBERALISM

The art world’s such a fickle place.  Buzzword after buzzword follows business metaphor upon business metaphor.  Right now, the UK arts and cultural world is apparently ‘waking up’ to inequality. 

Jul
04

Art and (In)equality–a film of my provocation @CREATEglos event on 1st June 2015

I’ve already blogged about the event a little bit and shared my presentation but, as inequality within arts and culture has risen in prominence in the past few days, I

Jul
02

Socially engaged art–marginal practices & critical utopias

I delivered this talk about my research to the Northumbria – Sunderland AHRC Centre for Doctoral Training Student Conference on the 1st July 2015 at The BALTIC Centre for Contemporary

Jun
04

Art & (In)equality–my presentation from @CREATEglos event, 1st June 2015

I had a brilliant time as part of the panel at CREATEgloucestershire’s fourth birthday event on Monday 1st June 2015.  I presented a fifteen minute piece about dot to dot

May
20

What is it socially engaged artists do? My reply to @caracourage

Cara Courage has asked socially engaged/ social practice artists a question: What do you do? This is my reply I shared with Cara on her Facebook post… SOCIAL PRACTICE Little

May
20

What is it socially engaged artists do? My reply to @caracourage

Cara Courage has asked socially engaged/ social practice artists a question: What do you do? This is my reply I shared with Cara on her Facebook post… SOCIAL PRACTICE Little

May
08

Participation on Trial. Not the end. A new spirit of openness?

A week after Participation on Trial at Union Chapel, I think it is worth reflecting a little upon the event as a format that could offer interesting potentialities in opening

May
05

An Act of Treachery

An Act of Treachery – reblog of David Slater’s excellent #ParticipationOnTrial prosecution witness statement

May
01

My prosecution witness statement from today’s @artsontrial #ParticipationOnTrial

This is my prosecution witness statement from today’s Participation on Trial event…  The (eventual) verdict was “GUILTY – BUT WHO CARES?”  Comments always welcome… Everyone’s a ‘participant’ nowadays. Aren’t ‘they’?

Mar
24
Feb
25

A Policy for the Arts: “excellence” within the reach of everyone? A contribution to #ArtsPolicy50

It’s been almost 50 years since Jennie Lee published her white paper A Policy for the Arts – The First Steps (1965). It was Britain’s first state arts policy. Some

Feb
09

Quality in participatory arts: fit for whose purpose & in need of qualification?

Doctor Faustus in a magic circle, Woodcut, 1648 I have always been perplexed when people talk of “quality”.  It’s a strangely powerful word, given that it is essentially neutral.  Colloquially,

Feb
03

My life as research: tracing the edges of socially engaged & participatory arts practice

I was asked to present a brief précis of my current research at Northumbria University last week.  I thought it might be of interested to some people.  So here it

Dec
05

IN/OUT – socially engaged art, UK cultural institutions & The Hunting of the Snark

There’s a debate within socially engaged arts about whether this unique form of practice should resist incorporation into institutions, galleries, museums, etc. or are these ‘managed’ spaces best placed to

Nov
28

Time to drop innovation? Socially engaged art is not The Latest Thing…

Elizabeth Grady began a discussion on the ‘innovative’ socially engaged network a blade of grass entitled The Latest Thing. I contributed via Twitter then wrote Is socially engaged art ‘innovative’?

Nov
18

My contribution to article about socially engaged art for Museums Journal, October 2014

I’m very pleased to have been included in an article by Simon Stephens in October’s edition of Museums Journal entitled People Power.  It’s an interesting piece with a range of

Nov
13

THE STATUS QUO WILL NO LONGER DO – three provocations at Arts Council England national office

What a week.  A great week.  A deeply challenging week.  A week which saw me invited to Arts Council England’s HQ in Bloomsbury Street, London, thanks to CidaCo and Anamaria

Nov
08

A bonfire of the vanities: is resilience & sustainability in the arts simply adding new fuel to old fires?

This is a retitled reblog of a piece I first posted on May 24, 2013 I’m republishing it now because it is something I’ve developed significantly in my practice and

Oct
20

#ParkingSpace @thestovies – some images from a great weekend in Dumfries with The Stove & @openjartweets

I was invited to talk about The New Rules Of Public Art at The Stove’s Parking Space event on Friday.  Stayed around for some of Saturday too… Amazing people. Great

Oct
19

Is socially engaged art ‘innovative’? (A word game with scrapheap prizes.)

a blade of grass is a great online resource for socially engaged artists – frequently a site for interesting discussion and debate in and around the field. The Growing Dialogue

Oct
12

Time to rethink the system? David Harvey and Gar Alperovitz on Cooperation and Capitalism

An interesting discussion about what might follow the, perhaps, invitable, end of capitalism…

Oct
11

A little reflection on the Culture Action Europe #BeyondTheObvious conference

This week has been hectic.  Research visits in London with Platform London and Ovalhouse Theatre; a participatory art workshop commission for Berwick Visual Arts; working on a lab session about

Oct
03

The New (un)Rules of Public Art

I remember reading The New Rules of Public Art sometime last year, not long after Situations UK published them.  I liked them at the time.  There were a couple of

Sep
30

Public Art (Now) Blogger’s Report: Katie J Anderson

@KatieJoAnd writes about Futurefarmers’ Boat Oven & participation with @situationsUK

Sep
14

Time arts & culture put class back on their agendas?

  I’ve been tweeting a bit today about art, privilege, elitism, ‘leaders’, social practice, and more.  The great article about the dominance of privilege in the arts by Nick Cohen

Sep
10

‘Pilots to Practice’–reflections about an ArtWorks PHF participatory arts conference

Yesterday, 9th September 2014, I attended Pilots to Practice at BALTIC – a ArtWorks North East conference about participatory arts.  I presented a PechaKucha entitled above ground level: old as

Sep
10

‘above ground level’ – old as new, new as old: grassroots social practice in a post-industrial port

This is my presentation for Paul Hamlyn ArtWorks North East ‘Pilots to Practice’ conference at BALTIC.  I gave this as a PechaKucha – using a narrative performance style of delivery.

Sep
06

We are socially engaged

This is a reblog of a post I wrote for #culturalvalue initiative which was first published on 2nd September 2014. This was Eleonora Belfiore’s introduction… Our regular contributor Stephen Pritchard

Sep
05

social practice & social change – my thoughts – an unpublished interview transcript

  This blog post is a transcript of an interview that was never published.  The interviewer asked five questions.  I answered.   Can art be an effective way of bringing

Sep
02

Fools Gold – is #FolkestoneGold ‘participatory art’?

#FolkestoneGold.  Popular and extremely newsworthy.  People digging for little chunks of gold on the beach in Folkestone is certainly an arts marketing dream; a boon for this year’s Folkestone Triennial. 

Sep
02

social practice as ‘expanded field’ or ‘excluded field’

This blog post is explores elements of my doctoral research exploring the question of whether participatory art can support sustainable social change.  It’s taken from some of the writing in

Aug
18

Latest contribution from Anna Tea

Latest contribution to @TheresaEaston’s #WW1 trench & folk art project. Strong images from Ukraine.

Aug
18

Exciting new project exploring Trench Art using Mail Art is underway!

Nice blog post by @theresaeaston about her new #WW1 trench art project with @dottodotart…

Aug
15

‘All in this together’

François Matarasso’s ‘All in this together’ (2013) offers a powerful critique of the de-politicisation of art

Aug
02

AGL: above ground level

As founder of dot to dot active arts CIC – a member organisation for socially engaged artists and arts workers that’s fiercely independent and always grassroots – I’m committed to

Jul
28

Dr Eleonora Belfiore: The politics of cultural value: Towards an emancipatory framework

‘The politics of cultural value: Towards an emancipatory framework’ – interesting new post by Dr Eleonora Belfiore about whether cultural policy and arts funding can support social justice and emancipation.

Jul
17

‘Cultural Value’ and the Economic and Social Impact of the Arts

I attended a workshop at the University of Warwick on 9th July about Co-producing cultural policy.  The day was very, very interesting and frustrating at times.  I was guest blogger. 

Jul
10

Being good in the gallery

How do you behave in galleries? I like to be a bit naughty…

Jul
01

Rethinking critical theory for our current arts & cultural situation: exploring socially engaged activism, tension & social justice

This is the second post about my work around developing my PhD research methodology.  It is about trying to develop a critical theory from past and current theoretical perspectives that

Jul
01
Jun
29

Radical arts activism, sustainability by renewal & social justice: refining doctoral research via critical theory towards a working hypothesis

This post is a first draft of part of my doctoral research methodology.  I have been developing my thinking using a broad range of interdisciplinary approaches and theoretical perspectives that

Jun
29

The Challenges of Resilience for Cultural Organisations

Interesting new post by Anamaria Wills: can NPOs adapt & remain resilient in a fast changing cultural landscape?

Jun
27

Second post : ‘Occupy artists take message to streets’ from BBC (via @illuminator99) # PhDResearch

Second post : ‘Occupy artists take message to streets’ from BBC (via @illuminator99) # PhDResearch This link takes you to a really interesting piece by the BBC from 2012 exploring

Jun
27

Radical counter-hegemonic arts ‘participation’ that critiques instrumentalism by @illuminator99 #PhDResearch

I have been a long-time admirer of the amazingly simple, incredibly expressive and exceptionally impactful work of activist arts movement Illuminator 99%. Their work epitomises, for me, the spirit of

Jun
23

A (brief) Critique of LacLau and Mouffe’s Discourse Analysis

Interesting critique of the discourse analysis of Laclau & Mouffe as ‘constructivist idealism’

Jun
22

This is not a love song – lessons the arts might learn from football

I’m going over to the other sideI’m happy to have and not to have notBig business is very wiseI’m inside free enterprise This is not a love songThis is not

Jun
18

June Mail Art in from Guido Vermeulen’s 1914-2014

Trench art update from @TheresaEaston

Jun
11

‘northerngame’ – review by Ron Moule

northerngame A child stands, face turned away from the camera, on a piece of ground somewhere near a small village in Northumberland. The ground seems marked, and marked out, as

Jun
09

Grassroots arts social engagement

northerngame Working with traditional communities and contemporary exhibitions This post is an initial attempt to describe an extraordinary socially engaged art commission I was lucky enough to co-create with artist

Jun
04

Buzzfeed and the “the acceleration of the temporal rhythm of late capitalist visual culture”

Mark Carrigan: “The quote in this title isn’t from a critique of Buzzfeed written by a contemporary critical theorist loftily bemoaning everything this site is coming to represent. It’s from

May
27

The carnivalesque and critical pedagogy–radical socially engaged art for social justice?

This is the final section of my draft research which considers other disciplines relevant to my research question (Can participatory art support sustainable social change?) They are interesting, perhaps, inspiring

May
25

Playing and reality – potential space for creativity

This section considers other disciplines that are relevant to my research question (Can participatory art support sustainable social change?) and are interesting, perhaps, inspiring alternative perspectives that may help provide

May
24

Postdevelopment & Participatory Action Research

This section considers other disciplines that are relevant to my research question (Can participatory art support sustainable social change?) and are interesting, perhaps, inspiring alternative perspectives that may help provide

May
23

Critical theory

Other disciplines that might further develop socially engaged art practice This section considers other disciplines that are relevant to my research question (Can participatory art support sustainable social change?) and

May
20

What might sustainable arts practice look like?

This is the sixth post taken from my draft literature review which is part of my on going PhD research centred around the question: Can participatory art support sustainable social

May
19

Cultural policy

This is the fifth post taken from my draft literature review which is part of my on going PhD research centred around the question: Can participatory art support sustainable social

May
19

Art as Social change

This is the fourth post taken from my draft literature review which is part of my ongoing PhD research around the question: Can participatory art support sustainable social change?  The

May
16

Socially engaged art – an ‘arts’ perspective

This is the third post taken from my draft literature review which is part of my ongoing PhD research around the question: Can participatory art support sustainable social change?  Please

May
15

Matarasso, Merli and the question of social impact

There is a crucial debate that is often still referred to when questions of art and social change arise. It is essentially a disagreement about the potentialities of participatory art

May
15

Can participatory art support sustainable social change? A brief introduction to my research…

Participatory art is a growing field. As a practice, it adopts numerous forms and crosses many boundaries. Participatory art is often, but not always, implicated in narratives surrounding personal and

Apr
30

Random Acts of Generosity : after-notes

The Gift of dialogical practice

Mar
10

A Response From A “Normal” Participant To The No Boundaries Conference 2014 by Luke John Emmett

Luke John Emmett wrote a new note: A Response From A “Normal” Participant To The No Boundaries Conference 2014. Luke posted this excellent and thoughtful response to his experiences at

Feb
28

No Boundaries – no fringe

No Boundaries 2014 was heralded as an ‘open symposium on the role of culture in 21st century society accessible for established cultural leaders and for those who are discovering their

Feb
26

Five Interventions for No Boundaries

Sound conference advice for all artsy shindigs in the mould of #nb2014 (No Boundaries)…

Feb
23

Call out for craftivists…visible mending exhibition…in a shed!

Crafts call out for visible mending show in Spalding shed? Answers on local postcard to dot to dot member Carol Parker…

Feb
22

It’s the end of the world as we know it

Very poignant post by François Matarasso as No Boundaries conference approaches…

Feb
12

The Morris Justice Project, South Bronx

An amazing example of participatory action research done well. Engaged people voicing real concerns about their neighbourhood using data they collected. This video is also a great example of using

Feb
12

CAN PARTICIPATORY ART SUPPORT SUSTAINABLE SOCIAL CHANGE?

Here’s a short version of the presentation I gave at BALTIC 39 recently about my doctoral research project following project approval… [office src=”https://skydrive.live.com/embed?cid=506D631092AC8D21&resid=506D631092AC8D21%218652&authkey=AHcSIbopkmIDxBg&em=2″ width=”1000″ height=”400″]   Any comments more than

Feb
03

Here we go round the mulberry bush

A repetitive, cyclical dance around a plant upon which mulberries don’t really grow whilst mimicking of everyday actions and chanting ‘This is the way…’  and a response to a blog

Jan
22
Jan
06

Hurrah, the Culture is Finished!

This mini-essay was first published on the #culturalvalue initiative website on 5th January 2014.  I’m reblogging it here with their introduction. Stephen’s witty and well researched mini-essay contribution to The

Dec
29

“There’s no lights on the Xmas tree momma, they’re burnin’ an artist tonight!”

Powerful thoughts from Mike White about ridiculous report in The Independent criticising (really quite minimal) spending on art in hospitals. Obviously, because I’m working as a curator in an NHS

Dec
29

Beyond evidence: theorising arts and health (ESRC Seminar, Glasgow University, 24 April 2014)

Good to see some alternative thoughts about arts, health and incessant ‘evidence-based’ debate…

Oct
27

When I was a lad, libraries were where you went to lend books for free…

Image from ‘The Future of Libraries’: Interview with Thomas Frey This post is a direct response to a recent contribution to the Cultural Value Initiative blog entitled ‘A view from

May
24

Is sustainability about adding new fuel to old fires?

In attempting to look at whether participatory art can support sustainable social change, it is probably worth exploring different perspectives relating to this question.  So I’ll start by looking at

May
24

Is sustainability about adding new fuel to old fires?

In attempting to look at whether participatory art can support sustainable social change, it is probably worth exploring different perspectives relating to this question.  So I’ll start by looking at

May
17

Can participatory arts support sustainable social change?

Participatory arts or, more precisely, socially engaged arts practice is resurgent. Participation in the arts is, like many times in the past since the Victorian era, being promoted as a

May
10

Arts Participation and the Health and Wellbeing Agenda

This is a repost of my report for Participation and Engagement in the Arts – click here to see the original post The under belly of Northern Stage provided an

May
10

Why we’re bringing our old-new curiosity shop to Blyth

dot to dot active arts’ popup participatory art project old-new curiosity shop will soon open in Blyth, Northumberland – this is why… This is a copy of my guest post

Nov
25

Hello

Hello. I’ve decided to start blogging a bit.  Let’s see how it goes…