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 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

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.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.”… READ MORE

I was kindly asked to talk alongside Labour MP Laura Pidcock, Jessie Jo Jacobs (Policy and Campaigns Officer, Northern TUC) and Ramona McCartney (National Officer for the People’s Assembly) at the People’s Assembly event, “In Place of Austerity”, in Newcastle on 20th January 2018. It was an incredibly inspiring day!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.

You can access the PowerPoint with notes and images here.


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Hello. I’m Stephen. This workshop will explore neoliberalism, language and engagement, and whether social justice can ever be compatible with neoliberalism.… READ MORE

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.


Mephistopheles Flying, from Faust, lithograph,  Eugène Delacroix , 1828 Mephistopheles Flying, from Faust, lithograph,  Eugène Delacroix , 1828

Mephistopheles Flying, from Faust, lithograph, Eugène Delacroix, 1828

A brief art history of art, property and artwashing

Art has always been a form of property.  During the Renaissance, art was the property of Royalty, the nobility and the church. … READ MORE

I believe that there is not enough emphasis placed upon understanding the theoretical and historical perspectives and contexts of ‘participation’ that are, for me, crucially important to both practice and research that engages with people, place, power and politics.  Similarly, I also believe that, whilst this field is situated within ‘the social’, there is not enough emphasis on how practice and research may fit with broader understandings of art and society, nor, for that matter, with wider theoretical from other interrelated disciplines. 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. … READ MORE

ABSTRACT  

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. … READ MORE