Saturday, 19 April 2014

BEWARE OF ARTISTS...

RECOVERISM


This week, your roving Arts/Health reporter is blogging live from Lithuania where he’s taking part in the international conference, Arts for Mental Health and Wellbeing: Creative Partnership in Policy and Practice at the National Gallery in Vilnius. More of that soon. I have to report on an artists residency which took pace at MMU last week. What, you didn’t know there was a residency? Well it was an event for people in recovery from substance addiction and was managed by Mark Prest of Portraits of Recovery and facilitated by the artists Cristina Nunez and Selda Asal. Funded by Grundtvig as part of their lifelong learning stream, around 30 people took part in an immersive workshop over four days. I can’t quite describe how powerful the experience has been for all of us involved - after all the art speaks for itself - and it was deeply collaborative, emotive and deeply personal. How so? Well, in July we’ll be having a symposium here at MMU to mark the project and we’ll be sharing some of the work in an exhibition that will run alongside it, so you’ll be able to judge yourself. I’ll set up an eventsbright page for registration, so keep your eyes peeled! For me it was fantastic to see the Manchester School of Art populated by people who wouldn’t normally set foot through its doors. I’m inspired - official! In July, the tri-lingual Recoverist Manifesto will be born too. Thank you for all those people from Liverpool and Manchester who’ve contributed so far. Want to be involved too? Get in touch.


In a few weeks time, I’ll be welcoming Mike White from the Centre for Medical Humanities, who will kick start our ever-so-informal Arts and Health Research Network, with a trawl through ideas, experiences and thoughts on all things arts-healthish! It’s all happening on 22nd May and is free, utterly free! I can’t wait, and if you want to come along, you must register your interest artsforhealth@mmu.ac.uk and we’ll confirm your place and venue details on 9th May. Want to read Mike’s latest? He’s just published an article on the IXIA website called Directions and Misdirections in Arts in Health. He has the uncanny ability to talk with authority and reason in our ever-changing times. The North West Arts and Health Networking events will continue throughout the year with Vic McEwan from CAD Factory in Australia sharing his work on June 5th. He’s just been awarded the Inaugural Art New South Wales Fellowship, the only artist in the state selected. In July the author Will Self (yes that’s right, that Will Self), will be responding to URBAN PSYCHOSIS with a public talk here at MMU. More details of this soon. But you can get a taste of his take by clicking on his photo below and reading, The Madness of crowds: Going off-grid. Here's a handsome line. 
"...I’d sooner have my buttocks sawn off, varnished and retailed as salad bowls in a charity shop alongside Clare Balding’s autobiography than wear such a dumb bit of clunker."

So, Lithuania - what’s it all about? Over these last few years since it was Capital of Culture in 2009 and held its first international conference on arts and health, it has gently and oh, so stealthily, been expanding and nurturing its practice and research. This week sees its delivery of a conference exploring cross-sectoral working in arts and mental health at the National Gallery with key political commitment from ministries of culture, health, education and employment and key contributions from Nordic countries, Lithuania and the UK. I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to support the wonderful team at Socialiniai Meno Projektai and with the consistent input from the British Council, be part of something that’s growing and that I am proud to be connected with. Aciu. 

Untold Stories in Health and Illness
This week a medical student from the University of Manchester got in touch in response to my call-out to patients, staff and others who might inform SICK! festival 2015 here in Manchester next year. Ben Norris is organising an event called Untold Stories in Health and Illness on Saturday 17th May at the Baronial Hall at Chetham’s School of Music between 9:30am and 5:15pm followed by an evening of music and literary performances (6.15pm-8.00pm) This one-day conference is a platform for stories of health and illness deserving of recognition. The conference aims to:
  • encourage cross-disciplinary understanding and collaboration
  • refresh and expand the shared moral, humane and ethical dimensions of health and illness
  • entertain different perspectives in an open, enjoyable and thought-provoking environment. 
“Untold stories” encompass a variety of perspectives and subject matter. Each story provides imaginative and refreshing responses to healthcare education and practice. We invite presentations (by students, the general public, academics and healthcare professionals) that highlight creative endeavours taking in a range of viewpoints. Contributions will be diverse and entertaining, including music, drama, poetry, artwork, biography and historical narrative. Each performance will be accompanied by responses from student, lay, academic and professional perspectives. The conference is free to students/unwaged; £15 for waged. Contact: Benjamin.Norris@student.manchester.ac.uk


The Dog That Barked Like a Bird
film screening, talk & Q&A
Mark Ware MFA is a multi-media artist, an Honorary Research Fellow at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School and a stroke survivor. During 1996 Mark had a severe stroke, an event that suddenly and abruptly altered every aspect of his life. ‘The Dog That Barked Like a Bird’ is an Arts Council England funded video composition created by Mark, based on his diaries of stroke recovery. It was described by Alan Bennett as, ‘an extraordinary piece of work’. This workshop will include a talk from Mark about how his stroke influences his art, a screening of the video composition and a Q&A session.
Lecture Theatre 4, Stopford Building, The University of Manchester
Friday 2nd May. To book please email northwest@stroke.org.uk or telephone 0161 745 8222 to book a place at this unique event.

...and as it's a religious weekend.



POWER TO CHANGE
BIG Announces New £150 Million "Power to Change" Initiative (England)
The Big Lottery Fund has announced that it will launch a new £150 million fund to support the development of sustainable community-led enterprises. The fund aims to respond to the many economic challenges facing local communities. Challenges that have led to empty shop premises and the closures of pubs, libraries, community centres and sports facilities. The fund wants to support communities to come together using creative approaches that involve local people and resources to improve their local neighbourhoods, villages and town centres. These could take many different forms from small-scale enterprise to large-scale asset management and ownership. Solutions could include, transferring resources into the ownership of local residents, and using former commercial spaces to incubate social enterprises and cultural activities.

The fund will be delivered by an independent Trust and launched in the autumn 2014. Read more http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/global-content/programmes/england/power-to-change 

Funding for Artists & Bands 
PRS for Music Foundation and Arts Council England have announced that the next application deadline for the Momentum Music Fund is the 3rd June 2014.
The Momentum Music Fund is a £500,000 fund to develop the careers of talented artists and bands. It is anticipated that grants of between £5,000 and £15,000 will be awarded to between 50 and 75 artists/bands over the next 2 years. Applications can be submitted by the artists themselves or those who are working on their behalf, e.g. a manager, an independent label or publisher. Priority will be given to those that haven't been funded by PRS for Music Foundation in the previous 12 months.



The People's Millions 
The Big Lottery Fund (Big) in partnership with ITV has announced that The People's Millions programme has re-opened for applications. A total of £3.8 million is available through the programme and 4 awards of £20,000 - £50,000 will be made in each ITV region for projects that improve the local community. The programme is open for applications from:
  • Voluntary and community groups
  • Local authorities
  • Schools
  • Statutory health bodies
  • Social enterprises; etc.
A total of £3.8 million is available through the programme and 4 awards of up to £50,000 will be made in each ITV region. The closing date for applications is 12 noon on the 16h May 2014. Read more at: http://www.peoplesmillions.org.uk/


Yesterday evening (good Friday), I arrived in Kaunas (Lithuania) a couple of days early for the conference, but with bags of work in my bag to get to grips with. I had the longest and loveliest of walks, spending some time people-watching around the beautiful old town squares. Alas, as I get older, I run the risk of looking like some dodgy old letch, so, self-conscious of being a singleton amongst so many couples out to enjoy the sun, I scuttled off down to the river and walked along the banks of the Neris and Nemunas, where at the confluence of the two, rather accommodatingly the sun set and as I happily communed with this beautiful country, two swans spotting a convenient photo-opportunity, flew towards me. So two images then, the two waters converging and two avian souls soaring.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL

Whilst the former Culture Secretary rested her poor little head on the block of public opinion earlier this week, I was one of a small contingent invited into parliament by Ed Vaizey, UK Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries. We’d been invited to contribute to a round-table discussion around arts/health. To be honest, it was a pretty good cross section of our community with therapies, third sector, patient voice, art forms and research & practice from the field represented. Why were we there? To give voice to the field and maybe, just maybe, inform political direction. Let’s see, but I for one felt that the minister took things seriously and sees the relevance of culture and the arts to wider society. It was great as ever, to have the support of Alan Howarth, this time enthusiastically supported by MP’s, Sarah Newton and Paul Burstow who between the three of them, are the driving force behind the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing.
But what’s this? We have a new Culture Secretary! Want to know more? Well here’s an open letter from a potential future culture secretary, author Michael Rosen, to the new culture secretary for you to digest. Click on his dear old face.


Following in the wake of the arts/health research communities response to Arts Council England’s report on cultural value, it's been heartening to witness the outpouring of the rich, but hidden data that exists in the field. There's a real nuanced picture emerging that allows patient phenomenology to be at the heart of our understanding of our impact and reach, tempering any drive to dominate our field with pseudo-scientific reductionism. Although, it has to be said, some of the Social Return on Investment models that are being explored, are indeed fascinating and it’s particularly interesting to read the report of work done in the Craft Cafe’s in Glasgow, who claim that the ratio of social value of their work is equivalent to £8.27 to the £1. Click on the sublime Frida Kahlo for more details.


All that said, I recommend the excellent Dr Samuel Ladkin as a healthy counterblast to those bogged down with their outdated reductionist models. Here’s his starting gambit:

“Against Value in the Arts” sounds like a counter-intuitive way to go about describing and defending the value of the arts. The project proposes, however, that it is often the staunchest defenders of art who do it the most harm, by suppressing or mollifying its dissenting voice, by neutralising its painful truths, and by instrumentalizing its potentiality, so that rather than expanding the autonomy of thought and feeling of the artist and the audience, it makes art self-satisfied, or otherwise an echo-chamber for the limited and limiting self-description of people’s desires.


More please Dr Ladkin and thanks RGN for this! Click on the Ai Weiwei above to read more from the excellent AHRC funded Cultural Value Project.

MENAS IR PSICHIKOS SVEIKATA
Next week, Arts for Health’s sister organization in Lithuania, Socialiniai Meno Projektai are hosting the International Conference Arts for Mental Health and Wellbeing: Creative Partnership in Policy and Practice at the National Gallery in the Lithuania. With support from amongst others, the government of the Republic of Lithuania, the British Council, NORDEN, the Tiltas Trust and of course, Arts for Health at MMU.

I’m thrilled to be going back to this beautiful country and to be being joined by three colleagues from Manchester too - Stuart Webster from BlueSCI; Julie McCarthy from 42nd Street and my arts/health collaborator, Dr Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt who is currently interrogating longitudinal data from Sweden, Finland and Norway against UK data-sets to explore the long-term impact of cultural participation on health outcomes. More of that in July, when she publishes her findings.

What’s that? You can’t go to Lithuania, especially over the easter holidays? Or it’s too late to get a place because it’s standing room only? Well don’t worry, because you can watch it live at http://webseminarai.lt 
(...although I could live to regret mentioning this)
Click on the National Gallery for more details. 


SICK FESTIVAL 2015 are seeking doctors, healthcare professionals and patients to participate in a  Wellcome Trust funded-project entitled Stories From The Front Line. We are looking for true stories that reveal emotional and ethical issues associated with people’s experiences of illness, healthcare and the hospital system. The participants will be interviewed by leading comics artists / graphic novelists who will use these stories to create a series of 12 large (4m x 1m) public space light-box installations throughout the Manchester in March 2015.

SICK are looking for stories that relate to the following thematics: children & adolescence, cancer, mental illness, geriatrics, end-of-life care, sex, physical abuse, substance abuse and medical ethics in general. Want to know more? Get in touch with Tim Harrison tim@thebasement.uk.com

A PhD opportunity that you just can’t afford to miss!
Applications of Socially Engaged Art
The socially engaged arts have been developed in a number of fields as transformative interventions entailing specific forms of arts practice and methods of inquiry. The combination of artistic and social elements gives rise to tensions between aesthetic, ethical and instrumental dimensions of the work. This PhD will study the nature and significance of the socially engaged arts as an aesthetic and relational practice, a mode of inquiry and an agent for personal and social change. The precise field will be determined in consultation with the successful candidate but we would particularly welcome applications with an interest in addictions and recovery. The Psychosocial Research Unit has a wide range of partners who can offer access to research sites for the successful applicant. However, we will also consider other proposals for the empirical component of the work. There are opportunities for paid teaching duties with this studentship Applicants must submit a detailed research proposal, a CV, and a covering letter along with their application. Applicants should have, or expect to receive a minimum of UK 2:1 honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject area. Informal enquiries may be directed to Dr Alastair Roy email: anroy@uclan.ac.uk Requests for an application pack (quoting the reference number RS1328) should be directed to the Research Student Registry. Tel: 01772 895082 or email: researchadmissions@uclan.ac.uk
Closing Date: 16th May 2014 
Provisional Interview Date: 3rd June 2014


SCIENCE/STROKE/ART
The month of May will see the Stroke Association collaborating on all manner of events that bridge science, stroke and the arts across Manchester. You can find out much more by clicking on the image above.

RUFF, by Split Britches. The piece is written by Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver, performed by Peggy and directed by Lois. The show is presented in Manchester by Contact and The Centre for the Study of Sexuality and Culture, The University of Manchester and is delivered as part of the Sexuality Summer School's public event series 2014. RUFF is also supported by the Stroke Association.

Peggy Shaw had a stroke in January 2011. The stroke was in her PONS, which rhymes with the Fonz, one of her many early role models, and since the stroke she’s realized she has never really performed solo. She has always had a host of crooners, lounge singers, movie stars, rock and roll bands and eccentric family members living inside her. RUFF is a tribute to those who have kept her company these 68 years, a lament for the absence of those who disappeared into the dark holes left behind by the stroke and a celebration that her brain is able to fill the blank green screens with new insights and an opportunity to share them with the her favourite confidants – the audience. Click on the image below for more information.


A small note from the national press...
Ruth Wishart has written in the Guardian this weekend, on the increased understanding of the power of the arts to impact on health.


Rainhill Eco Garden - Call out for artist
WHO: Visual & Public Artists
BACKGROUND: The Rainhill Eco Garden project at Exchange Place, Rainhill Village is organised by Rainhill ECO (Environmental Community Organisation), a volunteer group dedicated to improving green spaces in Rainhill.
WHAT: We are seeking expressions of interest from Visual and Public Artists who are interested in working with the group and the local community to produce a piece of permanent artwork to be installed in the garden.  
BUDGET: The budget is £10,000 to include VAT
Deadline for expressions of interest: Friday 2nd May 2014
Rainhill ECO group will then produce a shortlist of artists from all expressions of interest, and invite those on the shortlist to come for an informal interview.
TIMESCALE: The work will need to be fabricated and ready to be installed in the garden by Friday 29 August 2014
For full brief please Email: rainhillecogarden@outlook.com
Deadline for expressions of interest Friday 2nd May 2014.



Wellcome Trust – Arts Awards 
The Wellcome Trust is inviting organisations and individuals to apply for funding through its Arts Awards. The Arts Awards support projects that engage the public with biomedical science through the arts. Applications are invited for projects of up to £30,000 through their small grants programme, and for projects above £30,000 through their large grant programme. The aim of the awards is to support arts projects that reach new audiences which may not traditionally be interested in science and provide new ways of thinking about the social, cultural and ethical issues around contemporary science. The scheme is open to a wide range of people including, among others, artists, scientists, curators, filmmakers, writers, producers, directors, academics, science communicators, teachers, arts workers and education officers.

The next application deadline for small projects is the 27th June 2014, the deadline for large projects has now passed. Read more by clicking on the intimate glass casts (above) by Charlie Murphy and funded by Wellcome. 

FREE Training Opportunity: Music in Healthcare Settings 
29 May to 4 June 2014
OPUS Music CIC, in partnership with Nottingham Music Hub, is offering a five-day training programme for musicians working in, or interested in working in healthcare settings.
The course will take place over five days (including two half-days of music-making at Nottingham Children’s Hospital).  These will take place from 9.30am to 3.30pm on 29, 30 May and 2, 3 and 4 June 2014. There is no deadline for applications, however limited places are available.  Applications will close once the course is filled with suitable applicants.  You are advised to send an application as soon as possible. 
Details and an application form are available at our website here:


Project Director: Heart of Glass
St Helens
Salary £42,000p.a.
Heart of Glass is St Helens Creative People and Places Programme, a £3m project managed by a consortium of St Helens organisations, led by Saints Community Development Foundation, with the assistance of £1.5m Arts Council funding. Heart of Glass will bring an ambitious and extraordinary cultural programme to St Helens that will create opportunities for many more people to participate, experience and enjoy the arts. All of the work commissioned, developed and presented will be co-produced with and for local people, taking St Helen’s rich sporting and industrial heritage as starting points for engagement. We are looking for an imaginative, experienced, confident and inspirational Project Director who will engage, enthuse and challenge artists and audiences and set in place a meaningful legacy. We are looking for someone with proven artistic leadership and vision, and an outstanding track record in cultural programming as well as established connections both nationally and internationally. The role will require vision, energy and entrepreneurial flair to bring brave thinking and ambitious ideas about growing arts participation and engagement in St Helens.

We know that these qualities may not be found in equal measure in any one individual, and are open to the role being offered on a job-sharing basis if we have two candidates who offer different but complementary elements of the role’s requirements. If you have a real passion for audience engagement in the arts and feel that you have some or all of the qualities we are looking for, we want to hear from you! To request an application pack please email jobs@heartofglass.org.uk stating Project Director in the subject line of the email. Closing date for receipt of all applications is 12 noon on 6th May 2014, with interviews weeks commencing 12th May and 19th May.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are floating in space. FACT

Saturday, 5 April 2014

...esse amor, d'бgua...eu sei que eu nгo quero mais nada

...and with just a vaguely aquatic theme Your blogger is bogged down with work this weekend, so short and sharp this time. A really interesting series of events about the development of a Visual Matrix from UCLAN are described below. I‘m going to go to the Leeds event. Sounds superb and much needed in these times of blinkered reductivism. A commission too from Alder Hey Children’s Health Park too.

Thanks to all of you who’ve shown an interest in attending the Vic McEwan event in June and I’m shortly going to announced details of our Informal Arts and Health Research Network's first meeting with none other than Mike White. This will be in May and I’ll give the dates next week.

I had the most excellent time at OWN NOW: Arts and Dementia Symposium organised by the as-ever brilliant Pioneer Projects in Skipton last week. I gave a presentation to an over-subscribed audience (standing room only) based on my own family experience and thoughts over the last few years. You can here my presentation by clicking on the image below. Thanks Anne, Philippa, Ali (from Pioneer Projects) and Becki (from Events Northern). It was a treat to be amongst passionate, articulate and hugely creative people. Oh and I thought Clare Craig was superb!


Public Art Now: Thinking Beyond Measure
A day workshop introducing a ground-breaking new approach to research and evaluation in the arts. Building an evidence base is fundamental to making the case for the arts; finding arts sensitive methods to gather and analyse data has become one of the primary challenges for the arts sector. How often have you felt something was missing from the stories revealed by social science based approaches? Researchers from the University of Central Lancashire, working with arts producers Situations, have been developing an innovative new group based method - the Visual Matrix - to move beyond overt measures of impact and unlock the deeper story of an artwork’s effects on the imagination. This could then be used alongside quantitative approaches to form richer, more complex evaluations. The North Devon town of Ilfracombe was host to Alex Hartley’s Nowhereisland in the summer of 2012 and, shortly afterwards, the 66 foot high bronze statue Verity by Damien Hirst was loaned to the town where it now towers over the harbour front. In 2013 the Visual Matrix method, which is framed by images of the artworks and depends on visualisation and association, was used alongside a conventional focus group to explore the town’s on-going relation to these large-scale, high profile public art projects. The Visual Matrix revealed a rich depth and diversity of response, which did not emerge through conventional methods. Join this workshop to hear what happened, how the Visual Matrix works and the value it has for Situations as an organisation. You will also take part in a Visual Matrix, learning how to organise you own session and how it might be applied to your projects. Click on image of Verity below for more details.


Art for Alder Hey in the Park
ARTISTS COMMISSION BRIEF: The Aquatic Therapy Pool
Introduction and Background 
The new Alder Hey Children’s Health Park is a unique concept in which the 100 year old hospital will be replaced by a new 270 bed hospital designed and built by ‘Acorn’ and a new public health park created on the old hospital site. The new hospital will be a welcoming healing environment in which the art helps enhance and improve the patient experience and enables a personalised delivery of healthcare’ for children and young people. A lead artist, Lucy Casson, was appointed by the children and young people’s design group to work with the interior designers to enhance wayfinding, and she has developed the ‘sense’ of the hospital linked to the environmental / nature interest of the Health Park inspired by the young people. This commission is informed by Alder Hey’s commitment to artistic practice and artist collaborations that will support children, their families, staff and visitors: http://www.alderhey.nhs.uk/departments/arts-for-health/

A Children and Young People’s Design Group helps inspire the artistic vision, and is consulted on designs. Throughout the next 18 months, there will be a series of other art commissions developed throughout the new building.

The Commission 
The children and young people and the clinical staff who use the existing Hydrotherapy Pool are keen to commission art for the new Aquatic Therapy Pool. “Art for Alder Hey in the Park” is seeking an artist (or artists’ group) who will work with the consultation group of children and young people, and agreed hydrotherapy staff, as part of the process to commission the art. 

The Aquatic Therapy Pool is used for movement therapy for all ages of children and young people, so the artistic narrative and imagery needs to include elements that the staff can draw the attention of the young people to and the young people can focus on, and physically move or point or stretch towards. The imagery needs to address the interests of all ages including young children. 

In line with the environmental ethos of the art programme, and the briefing set by the Aquatic Therapy Pool Consultation Group, we would like the art to be imaginative and reflect the natural aquatic world, ‘bringing the outside inside’. It could include relaxing sound created for the environment. There is a suggestion that any decorated tiles in the water might have a ‘push button’ so that they will trigger sound. Consider the opportunity for one of the young people to develop a special composition working with a musician or sound artist (There is a regular programme of live music within the hospital and we also employ a part time Music Therapist). Address the walls (including doors) and ceiling – and one young person suggested projecting moving images of sea birds across the walls and ceiling.



The Pool
The Aquatic Therapy pool is in the Outpatients area of the new hospital and is essentially underground. Daylight comes into the pool via a large roof light over the pool itself.  
The pool slopes from 900mm-1200mm depth and is lined with a glazed ceramic mosaic. The water will be level with the edge of the pool, so any integrated tile decoration will be viewed or felt through the water. The pool is 6500 x 4200.Artists may propose tiling decoration at the upper levels of the water edge. 

With regard to sound there is an integrated speaker and sound system operated from the Therapy Office.

Submissions
This commission is an open competition. 

The Aquatic Therapy Pool Consultation Group will appoint the artist from portfolios and interview. The artist will liaise with this group through out the commission to inform and develop the work – much of the liaison will be email.

At this stage we require a digital portfolio & c.v. of relevant work and a short outline/letter explaining how you would like to approach this commission. 

Budget: £15,000    To be submitted by 9am Monday 28th April.  

The proposals will be discussed with the Aquatic Therapy Pool Consultation Group in the following week and artists contacted after that. The Aquatic Therapy Pool Consultation Group consists of staff members and patients who use the current hydrotherapy pool.

Please submit your portfolio (compressed - please do not exceed 12 megabytes) & outline by email to: Lesley Greene, Art Consultant Art in Alder Hey in the Park Lesleygreene2@googlemail.com 
Tel: 01452770018 
Tel: 07760258160



Women Make Music Grant Scheme 
The Performing Right Society (PRS) has announced that its Women Make Music grant scheme is now open for applications. Through the programme, financial support of up to £5000 is available to women musicians; and new music in any genre is welcome, from classical, jazz and experimental, to urban, electronica and pop. Through the scheme support is available to individuals and organizations / groups; including solo performers; solo songwriters or composers; promoters or event producers; bands/ensembles/orchestras; local authorities and schools; etc.

The next application deadline is the 28th April 2014. Read more at: http://www.prsformusicfoundation.com/Funding/Women-Make-Music 

...and finally, a little greenish piece of poetry by John Clare titled, Summer Moods

I love at eventide to walk alone
Down narrow lanes o’erhung with dewy thorn
Where, from the long grass underneath, the snail
Jet black creeps out and sprouts his timid horn.
I love to muse o’er meadows newly mown
Where withering grass perfumes the sultry air,
Where bees search round with sad and weary drone
In vain for flowers that bloomed but newly there,
While in the juicy corn the hidden quail
Cries ‘wet my foot’ and hid as thoughts unborn
The fairylike and seldom-seen land rail
Utters ‘craik craik’ like voices underground,
Right glad to meet the evenings dewy veil
And see the light fade into glooms around.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Fancy some azodicarbonamide with that?


This week has seen bizarre works of fiction-non-fiction launched into the pubic realm. First things first - and this has to be some kind of fairy story, right? Subway, everyone’s favourite high street sandwich shop (well actually no, not mine - that smell alone reminds me rank old trainers), has opened up in the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital! Yes, that’s right, in the week when we’ve been told about the normalisation of obesity in children, our state-of-the-art, 21st century health services chooses to rent out its real-estate to a fast food vendor whose sarnies are just as unhealthy as McDonald's.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles found that despite claims to the contrary, Subway is just as unhealthy as McDonald’s—which long had the most locations in the USA, of any fast-food chain until Subway surpassed it in 2011. “Every day, millions of people eat at McDonald’s and Subway, the two largest fast food chains in the world,” Dr. Lenard Lesser—who led the research while a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar in the department of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health—said in the UCLA statement. “With childhood obesity at record levels, we need to know the health impact of kids’ choices at restaurants.”


Whilst the good burghers (sorry) of the NHS allow this to happen, let’s hope they manage to make sure Subway honour their promise to keep the azodicarbonamide out of their butties. What? You didn’t know that the scrumptious, alleged carcinogen, azodicarbonamide was in your 12 incher? Well thankfully, Subway are taking the chemical out of it’s bread and it will stay consigned to the yoga mats and soles of your shoes, where it adds scrumptious elasticity. mmmmmmmmm

Manchester is bursting with social enterprise. There are cafes, co-operatives and all manner of outlets that could do an amazing job of providing tasty, fresh and nutritious food.  You could do so much more in this context too. Ever though about your public health responsibilities and not profits? One question here: who allowed this to happen? You should be ashamed of yourself.
(thanks for the alert DP)


I feel sick to the pit of my stomach that Stella Feebly’s, This May Hurt a Bit is completely SOLD OUT. The Out of Joint production, directed by Max Stafford-Clark is a biting, buoyant new political comedy, putting dear old Britain’s beloved and berated NHS under the stethoscope. But is it a terminal case? The reviews are astounding and I am bereft. Click on the photo above for more details.


So it was, last week I glibly shared Arts Council England’s fabled publication, The Value of Arts and Culture to People and Society. I wonder if you read it? It actually feels like another A-Level research project. A glossy, half-cocked analysis of some bits and bats from the field. Rigorous it aint. OK, there’s a promising offer of more research monies in the Autumn, but it fails so spectacularly in many ways. Poised to write a considered response, I was stopped in my tracks by the as-ever excellent Mike White, who points lucidly to the reports numerous failings and by Stephen Clift, who is rallying the troops for a considered response to ACE chair, Sir Peter Bazalgette. More of that soon, but for now, to read Mike’s blog on this, click on the body parts above.


On, The Condition of the English Working Class
Tweet From Engels https://twitter.com/tweetfromengels an 'anti-epic' poem made from encounters with homeless people by arts organization arthur+martha, was projected onto the side of Manchester Town Hall on 29 March 2014 between 7.30 – 9.00. The poem was originally tweeted and will now be projected as part of the Big Digital Project, alongside work from many Manchester communities. The 'verses' are snapshots in text of homeless lives, in all their moods - joy, terror, humour, resilience, anger. Famously, Engels wrote about the harshness of 19th Century Manchester; people today who live a comparable existence are the homeless. The poem imagines a dialogue between Engels and the homeless people of Manchester. Interspersed through the poem is found material from Engel's correspondence with Marx, and his classic The Condition of the English Working Class. Find out more by clicking on the photograph above.


PLAY YOUR PART
We want to challenge ourselves to think differently about the role of our museum, and museums in general, to be relevant to today’s world, resonate with our everyday lives and inspire people to respond. The People’s History Museum tells the story of ‘ideas worth fighting for’: the big ideas that shaped our society – democracy, peace, equality, welfare – making us uniquely placed to contextualise contemporary events and ideas. Play Your Part will change our relationships with our audiences, working with them to connect the past, present and future. We will use the past as a lens through which to view current events. We will collect, curate and programme differently and be more contemporary.

We’re looking for three early-career artists, designers, musicians, writers or other creative practitioners to base their studios in the gallery space. They will have one week to explore our collections, engage with our visitors and create something inspirational.  Further information on Play Your Part is available by clicking on the banner above. 

ADVANCE NOTICE OF NETWORKING EVENT ON JUNE 5th, 6 - 8pm at MMU
I’m pleased to announce we’ll be hosting a free networking event that will see the Australian artist Vic McEwan sharing work from his time with the people of Yenda who were devastated by traumatic flooding in 2012. Just what an earth does an artist offer a community that have lost property, livestock and much more? You can find out more about Vic and his work in Yenda, by clicking on the image below.


Currently planning for a project that happens after his UK visit, Buckingbong to Birrego will see a group of four artists leading a three day walk from a place of indigenous massacre to a nearby farming area where a rare indigenous healing plant "Old Man Weed" still grows.  The project doesn't deal with just indigenous histories but all the varied histories and current uses of land in the area.  It explores trauma embedded within our landscape and processes to aide healing from historical events. Click on the waterhole to find out more about this project.

If you’re interested in meeting Vic McEwan and finding out more about his work in Yenda and the unfolding walk of healing and hope, register your interest at artsforhealth@aol.com


‘Lead the Change...’ 
...for Grassroots Social Entrepreneurs 
(North of England, Midlands, Northern Ireland & Wales)
UnLtd, the charity for Social Entrepreneurs, has announced that it is looking to recruiting 12 "Lead the Change" partners to develop innovative approaches to supporting community and social entrepreneurs, and to learn and share what works. Working in partnership with Esmée Fairbairn, UnLtd is inviting Expressions of Interest (EOI) from not-for-profit community or voluntary organisations in the North of England, the Midlands, Wales and Northern Ireland. The programme will run for two years and successful applicants will receive up to £25,000 to make awards to people with entrepreneurial solutions to local needs. The deadline for submitting an Expression of Interest is 2pm on Friday 28 March 2014. Read more at: http://unltd.org.uk/lead-the-change-programme/


The Ass in the Lion’s Skin has a simple moral: clothes may disguise a fool, but his words will give him away.