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.Read More
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.”Read More
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...Read More
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.Read More
This article was first published in print in Sluice Magazine and then on their website in 2017. I've decided to publish it on my website because I hope its content still resonates in 2018. It addresses issues of instrumentalism in the arts, artwashing, living creatively and cultural democracy. As I wrote in 2017, I believe "it is still possible to conceive of art as part of living creatively, as part of everyday life, as local cultural democracy, as artistic autonomy." It's time to talk about how...Read More
This is a video recording of my lecture entitled Rethinking the role of artists in regeneration contexts. It was recorded at Northumbria University on 24th November 2017. Includes a short Q&A at the end.Read More
This is the transcript of my 3 very short provocations presented to stimulate discussion during my workshop at the Sound Connections Social Justice Conference at Cecil Sharp House on 30th November 2017.Read More
The appointment of Rupert Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth Murdoch to Arts Council England’s National Council is not only deeply troubling, given her close ties to the Murdoch corporate empire, but is also a glaring example of how nefarious the UK arts establishment has become. The appointment of ex-Tate boss Sir Nicholas Serota as Chair of Arts Council England has clearly ushered in a new era of favouritism and nepotism in which a tiny select elite grease the palms of each other and their friends and family. This blog post explores a path from Serota to Murdoch via a Ukranian oligarch and his own wife, Teresa Gleadowe. It calls for an end to the corporate takeover of the arts!Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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?Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More