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

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.

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

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.”

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

'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...

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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.

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.

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

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...

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

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.

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

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...

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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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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...

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