KICK UP THE ARTS: ARTS AND CULTURE DURING AND AFTER CORONAVIRUS

 

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?

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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.READ MORE

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.READ MORE


Hill Park Kilties, Jarrow, early 1970s. Hill Park Kilties, Jarrow, early 1970s.

Hill Park Kilties, Jarrow, early 1970s.

I was born and grew up in a town called Jarrow (and in neighbouring Hebburn).

Jarrow was, in the words of the town’s socialist MP at the time of the Jarrow March Ellen Wilkinson, a town that was “murdered”. That was in 1936.

I grew up there in the 1970s and 1980s.… READ MORE

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.READ MORE

The Movement for Cultural Democracy has now had the opportunity to consider the Arts Council commissioned report ‘Cultural Democracy in Practice’. It has done so with its members during its recent working sessions at The World Transformed in Liverpool and online.

We are agreed that the Arts Council report has almost nothing to say about Cultural Democracy – in practice, in principle or as public policy.… 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. 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…

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Loads of Tories waving flags and singing "Jerusalem" at the Last Night of the Proms. A screenshot from the film I made to accompany my talk... Loads of Tories waving flags and singing "Jerusalem" at the Last Night of the Proms. A screenshot from the film I made to accompany my talk...

Loads of Tories waving flags and singing “Jerusalem” at the Last Night of the Proms.

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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.READ MORE


loraine leeson.jpg

Cultural democracy is not new, but rather an idea that has found a newly conducive context. This is much to do with the growing belief amongst younger generations that change is necessary and that they can and will make it happen. It is also perhaps a confluence between a budding socialist agenda for the UK and the dissatisfaction of so many cultural practitioners over a longstanding retrenchment in public funding for the arts that has sought to control rather than nurture.… READ MORE