Friday, 20 January 2017

Dear Mr. President

What on earth can you say that adds anything new to the debate surrounding the election of Donald Trump as US President? Nothing pithy springs to mind, just a compounded disbelief following the UK's Brexit vote, that nothing could be worse - only it is - and we've only just begun. It feels like we're inhabiting the world of fiction peddled in the Marvel comics of my childhood, where a deranged business magnate holds the world to ransom. Worse still, is the sobering reality that he represents a fair sway of the population. Of course, art and artists will reflect this time explicitly and in rather more nuanced ways, and this week I got sight of something rather remarkable that puts a marker down, here and now, in this time and space.

Art by Sammy Ho in Dear Mr. President (image courtesy YAI Arts and MoMA)
Carrie McGee, Assistant Director, Community and Access Programs, MoMA; Rebecca Goyette, Teaching Artist, MoMA; and Anna Schechter, Supervisor, Clinical & Family Services, YAI are the team behind an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York that deserves wide acclaim.

"For 60 years, YAI has supported people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in achieving the fullest life possible by creating opportunities for living, loving, working, and learning. One such opportunity is YAI ARTS, an open-studio program that encourages adults to promote their artistic voices and become working artists. Over the past three years, MoMA’s Access Programs and YAI ARTS have collaborated on an extended partnership."

"This year, the inspiration for the artists’ work was the 2016 presidential election. The artists discussed their thoughts about the future of our country and created portraits of political figures past and present. After the election, many of the artists wrote letters to politicians to ensure that the rights of people with disabilities are respected during this time of change. Visitors are encouraged to follow this example and advocate for their political beliefs by sharing their feelings on a collaborative wall, featuring open letters to the president that will be mailed to the White House when the exhibition closes."

This is important work - it's personal, potent and political. Most of us will have heard the sexist, misogynist and racist abuse, and seen the blatant nepotism unfolding, but remember the Presidents oh-so subtle mimicry of the New York Times journalist Serge F. Kovaleski, who has a disability. This is an exhibition to see. You have until February 12th.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

Meanwhile, back in Albion, and on a slightly less nuanced note, our very own Billy Chyldish has knocked out a few posters to celebrate everything Trump. 

Visitors who visit the Arts for Health HQ will have seen one of the less (how shall we say) offensive posters emblazoned across the office wall, sitting proudly next to one of pumpkin-headed, right wing twerp, Farage. If you want to see the full range of Childish imagery and aren't easily offended, click HERE.

That's all from me. I give up. Goodbye.

Friday, 13 January 2017

...and it's alright

A very slight blog for you today, as your blogger becomes lost in the anaesthetic fug of day-to-day irrelevancies. The moon was beautiful this last week, permanent by comparison to all this living. When I’d spent too long staring at it early one morning, the stars that hid behind it, made the thought even more dizzying.

The big Dementia and Imagination event is taking place at the Wellcome Trust on the 31st January and it promises to be a hum-dinger. If you're near the capital, or jetting into the UK, sign up for a day full of workshops and some talking heads - including my own, and where I'll share some thoughts on beauty. To find out more and register for a free place, contact Iona Strom: or Telephone (01248) 383050

Applications for Clore Fellowships 2017/18 are now open
Are you an exceptional individual with the potential and desire to lead within culture? Or do you just think you are? The Clore Fellowship brings together some of the most creative and dynamic cultural leaders in the UK and beyond for a life-changing adventure - but not white-water rafting - it is an intense personal and professional learning experience unlike any other in the universe. The Fellowship will support you to be the leader you have the potential to be, through in-depth learning tailored to your individual and special needs, aspirations and circumstances. To find out more and to apply click HERE. Deadline for Fellowship applications is noon, 13 February, 2017 

Funding for music making projects 
Youth Music, England's largest children's music charity, which provides funding for music-making projects, has announced new application deadlines for its grant making programmes. Grants are available to fund developmental music-making projects for children and young people up in challenging circumstances as well as projects that support the development of the workforce, organisations and the wider sector. The types of organisations that are eligible to apply include charities, not for profit organisations and schools. Schools will however have to justify how to activities to be funded do not duplicate Department of Education funding. The closing dates for applications to Fund A is 5pm on the 7th April 2017 and to Fund B the 12th May 2017. Fund C is currently closed to applications. Read more HERE.

European Youth Foundation Grants 
The European Youth Foundation (EYF), which is an independent, international, non-governmental organisation dedicated to the positive development of children and young people has announced that the next deadline for applications to its grant making programme is the 1st April 2017. Two types of grants are available during this funding round. Grants of up to €20,000 for international youth meeting of young people or youth leaders; and grants of up to €50,000 towards an organisations / networks work programme for the following year. Read more on funding & the application criteria HERE. 

Below is a picture of a tree.
An extraordinary picture of a tree.
It's by Beth Moon. 


Saturday, 7 January 2017

John Berger or Jeremy Hunt? ...just a thought

John Berger
There’s been enough coverage of the death of John Berger this last week, and this blogger can’t compete with the press coverage, so just an acknowledgement that he was an important (not perfect) presence in our cultural landscape this last 60 years or so. Yes - Ways of Seeing was his seminal work, but for me the less hyped A Fortunate Man offers us (you and me) a way of thinking, being and doing that should illuminate a more nuanced way of understanding the arts and health.

On his Booker Prize winning in 1972 - the fact he gave 50% of his winnings to the Black Panther Party was just perfect. In his acceptance speech he’d drawn attention to its sponsors, Booker McGonnall, who had generated much of their wealth, from 130 years of trading in the Caribbean. "The modern poverty of the Caribbean is the direct result of this and similar exploitation," he said. On the Black Panthers, he explained, "the black movement with the socialist and revolutionary perspective that I find myself most in agreement with in this country.” He kept the other half to work on a study of migrant workers with photographer Jean Mohr. Double prefect.

“The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied … but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing.”
John Berger

Jeremy Hunt - to bury or to praise?
With our dear old NHS in meltdown and the Red Cross declaring the state it's in as a 'humanitarian crisis,' the Government must take the blame, with it's culture of competition over compassion. At Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said on Friday that it was investigating two deaths at Worcestershire Royal Hospital's A&E department in Worcester in the last week a patient died after suffering a cardiac arrest on an A&E trolley within the department after waiting 35 hours for a ward bed elsewhere in the hospital. Something is rotten at the heart of politics and Jeremy Hunt should be called to account and not lauded as some patron saint of arts and health.

“Nowadays, anyone who wishes to combat lies and ignorance and to write the truth must overcome at least five difficulties. S/he must have the courage to write the truth when truth is everywhere opposed; the keenness to recognise it, although it is everywhere concealed; the skill to manipulate it as a weapon; the judgment to select those in whose hands it will be effective; and the running to spread the truth among such persons.”
Bertolt Brecht in 
Writing the Truth, 1935

For those of you who missed the last two weeks blog postings, if you have the inclination to scroll down, you’ll come across all sorts of unimaginable horrors including archive footage of arts/health narcissists, tempered by the delights of Alan Bennett and Pauline Boty and rounding off with gouttes anti-odeur de merde! Not to be sniffed at - go on - scroll down - give it a look!

Ragdoll Foundation Open Grants Scheme 
The Ragdoll Foundation's Open Grant scheme supports not for profit organisations working with children and young people using the arts and creative media. Grants of up to £50,000 are available. However, the Foundation states that the majority of grants awarded are likely to be in the region of £5,000 to £20,000 and cover between 25% and 80% of total costs of the project. The Foundations is mainly interested in applications that involve children during their early years, but appropriate projects for older children (up to 18 years) will also be considered. Whilst the Foundation will fund work in and around London, they will prioritise projects taking place elsewhere in the UK. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Read more HERE.

Wallace & Gromit’s Children’s Charity Grants 
The next deadline for applications to the Wallace & Gromit's Children's Charity is the 20th January 2017. The Charity provides grants to registered charitable hospitals and hospices across the UK to enhance and enrich the quality of life of sick children in hospitals. Read more HERE.

Lloyds Bank Foundation
The Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales, which provides funding to charities for projects to help people break their cycle of disadvantage, has announced that its "Invest" grants programme will re-open for applications on the 3rd May 2017 and will close on the 16th June 2017. “Invest" is a flexible, long term core funding programme for charities helping disadvantaged people. “Invest” grants are from £10,000 up to maximum of £25,000 per year for two or three years, with the opportunity for continuation funding for a further period - up to six years in total. Invest grants fund core running costs such as rent, heating, lighting and management costs etc, as well as project delivery costs such as salaries, recruitment, volunteer expense and training, etc. The Foundation also runs a smaller "Enable" programme which provides grants of up to £15,000 for up to 2 years for activities relating to organisational development such as leadership and governance, improved systems and demonstrating outcomes. Applications to the "Enable" programme can be made at any time. Read more HERE.

Question of the week: What is a sop?  
Answer: A thing of no great value.


Sunday, 1 January 2017

Bennett, Boty and Aubade

I watched a short television programme about Alan Bennett over Christmas - how he constructs his diaries - and a little bit about his life. It was - for me at least - exceptional. Watching it, I realised I hadn’t actually seen a programme about him, and it’s been his work that’s spoken to me over the years. The art itself. The content of his work is the stuff that resonates with us all - day to day observations - but constructed so lyrically. The sort of thing we all think we could do, from our own observations - but we can’t. He’s a born writer.

It’s not just his quirky scrutiny of what it is to be human that appeals, it’s much, much more. All his work - every last scrap of it - is imbued with the political, but without the hectoring and ranting of those of us less well equipped to tell a story! Hearing him speak though - my respect for him deepened as his values shone right through, both in his work and the way in which he lives his life.

The other artist I’m trying to learn a little more about, is the Pop Artist, Pauline Boty, and I found a remarkable documentary online by Ken Russell called Pop Goes the Easel made in 1962. It reflects the period well, and though probably a tad misogynistic focusing on 4 artists, of which Boty is the only woman, she emerges as both a prolific artist and a relatively unsung feminist. Why don’t we know more about her? (I know the answer to this question)

Like many artists who die too young, (she was only 28) it would be easy to make the mistake of assuming she’s been canonised through her premature death. In the face of swinging-sixties and post-war sexist society, she carved her own unique furrow. If you’re happy to dig deeper, you’ll find that not only was she a central force in Pop Art, but she had sophisticated political nous. Her work offers something far deeper and politic, than the apparent superficiality of pop and by the mid 60’s Pauline Boty and her husband Clive Goodwin were two leading members in a new rebirth of left wing politics and at the heart of both the avant guard, and mass media. Both were politically outspoken and influential in the birth of Encore magazine, Black Dwarf newspaper and Spare Rib. You can read a wonderful short article by Adam Curtis and see some of Boty’s collaborative film work by clicking on the image below.

Bennett seems to be thriving in his 80’s, his work rich, nuanced and political - a breath of fresh air - and a moral compass. Boty died to early and deserves much more attention. She reminds me that in the face of easy, popular politics, the voice of art students don’t quite seem as radical, as they once vociferously were. Then again, as all aspects of our lives become privatised, and higher education becomes prohibitively expensive, perhaps fewer working class young people will make it to art schools, and it will be those who assume their comfortable futures in the ‘creative industries', that will populate the spaces and places once inhabited by those who believed that they could change the world. We can only hope that our unfolding political horrors might galvanise a revolutionary cultural counter-blast to all that’s building up on the horizon.
After a year of celebrity deaths and something far closer to home, and the rise of populist right wing politics - like many people - I’m left slightly winded by the past 12 months. But then, amongst all that grief there have thankfully, been small and beautiful moments of bliss.

Despite the swingeing cuts that the government continues to mete out, and our slowly unravelling European status, I hope that our community of arts/health grows this next year, and perhaps, using the examples of Bennett and Boty realise that its power lies is in its constituency, in its people and their values and a shared belief in social justice. If you don’t watch the Bennett programme, perhaps just the closing comments on his despair on hearing the unfolding Brexit results might pique your interest.

‘I imagine this must have been what Munich was like in 1938. Half a nation rejoicing at a supposed deliverance, the other half stunned by the counties self-serving cowardice. Well, we shall see.’

As the populist right make their incursions into arts/health through standardisation and worse, we should remain vigilant to the arrogant self-publicists who risk undermining the reach and potency of the arts, in their greed for fame and fortune. They are grotesquely unauthentic and manipulative. 

Here's a musical interlude.

Finally - and just to cheer you up even further - here’s the most profound meditation on death by Philip Larkin. I imagine I've blogged this before, but to be honest, it's worth more than a cursory glance.

I do hope that 2017 is better than any of us dare to imagine…Clive

. . .


I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.   
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.   
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.   
Till then I see what’s really always there:   
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,   
Making all thought impossible but how   
And where and when I shall myself die.   
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.

The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse   
—The good not done, the love not given, time   
Torn off unused—nor wretchedly because   
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;   
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,   
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being 
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear—no sight, no sound,   
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,   
Nothing to love or link with,
The anaesthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,   
A small unfocused blur, a standing chill   
That slows each impulse down to indecision.   
Most things may never happen: this one will,   
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without   
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave   
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.   
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,   
Have always known, know that we can’t escape,   
Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring   
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

( has just come in of John Berger's death, of which, more next week)


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

The New Right presents - gouttes anti-odeur de merde

An oblique and not so oblique Christmas blog posting with thanks to one keen-eyed reader for sharing this disturbing footage of bloated ego-maniac and alleged arts/health pioneer. Shocking stuff and not for the faint hearted. Still, with the emergence of a new populist right, it's worth learning from this factual and important footage.

“A considered selection for gentlemen who favour a polished presence.”
Polished Presence? It being Christmas and all, I had a look on the aesop website and must draw your attention to the fetid stuff contained therein! Quite interesting that you can use a fragrance to mask the rank smell of more unpleasant odours. Well, we all need something to ‘combat the malodorous!’ - or, as they say themselves, something to ‘effectively neutralise disagreeable smells.’

Here's to 2017! 

Saturday, 17 December 2016

...oтправив мясо и картофель пирог в космос

This week it was wonderful to see Lithuanian artist, Egle Gudonyte co-curate work from the European project, Sing Me to Sleep with Arthur & Martha at Bury Art Museum. Representing Socialiniai Meno Projektai, with work that was part of the recent exhibition at the National Gallery of Lithuania, the work was exhibited alongside The Homeless Library.

North West Meat & Potato Pie Sent Into Space
How proud am I that the first solo flight into space by a pie was launched from Wigan! Here's a video and you can read the full and important news story HERE. You'll be pleased to know that the pie landed safely in Low Bentham yesterday. Bill Kenyon of Ultimate Purveyors from St Helens, who were commissioned to make the pie, said: "This is the first step to enable mankind to consume pies with more elegance and comfort. Neither the sky, nor the pie, should be the limit." Move over NASA. 

Foyle Foundation Small Grants Programme   
The Foyle Foundation is inviting small local charities (with a turnover of less than £100,000 per year) to apply for funding through its Small Grants programme. Through its Small Grants Programme, grants of between £1,000 and £10,000 are available to smaller charities in the UK, especially those working at grass roots and local community level, in any field, across a wide range of activities. Applicants will need to demonstrate that the grant will make a significant difference to their work. Applications can be made at any time. Read more HERE. 

Funding to Support Disadvantaged Young People 
The Weavers' Company, a textile-related, charitable and sociable organisation, has announced that the next closing date for its grants programme is the 31st March 2017. Organisations must normally be registered charities or in the process of applying for registration. The Weaver's Company Benevolent Fund supports projects working with disadvantaged young people (aged 5 to 30 years) to ensure that they are given every possible chance to meet their full potential and to participate fully in society. The Fund also aims to help young people at risk of criminal involvement to stay out of trouble and assist in the rehabilitation of offenders, particularly young offenders both in prison and after release. Read more HERE.

Tampon Tax Fund opens for applications
The Government has launched a new funding round of its Tampon Tax Fund. The Fund which was announced in the Autumn Statement 2015 and distributes the VAT collected on women's sanitary products to charitable organisations within the UK. A total of £15 million is available for projects that address violence against women or work with disadvantaged women and girls. Priority will be given to projects that provide services that are not currently widely available. The closing date for applications is the 27th January 2017. For a copy of the Tampon Tax Fund criteria and guidance, and application form, please email:  Read more by clicking on the tampon. 


Saturday, 10 December 2016

Woman to Woman

OK - just to keep you on your toes - two pots of funding at the top today and two at the bottom - and news and views squashed somewhere in between.

Woman to Woman Fund (UK)
Rosa the UK Fund for women and girls has launched a new £2.2 million "Women to Women" Fund. Supported using funds from the ‘Tampon Tax, local women's organisations across the UK can apply for grants of up to £25,000 to support a wide range of charitable work that benefits women from building confidence and leadership skills, tackling harassment and violence, to training in financial literacy and increasing engagement in decision-making; etc. Rosa plans to support at least 100 local grassroots women's organisations across the UK and the grants are available for groups with an income of under £100,000 per year. Rosa especially wants to support groups that work with disadvantaged communities or in disadvantaged areas. Grants can pay for core work, as well as mobilising volunteers, leadership development, communications and advocacy. Grants will be awarded over 3 rounds until March 2018. Round 2 of the Woman to Woman fund will open in May 2017 and round 3 will open in September 2017. The deadline for applications for this funding round is 9am on the 16th January 2016 and successful applicants will be informed by end March. Read more HERE.

The Spirit of Women Changemakers Small Grants Programme (UK)
The Fawcett Society, which is one of the UK's leading charity campaigning for gender equality and women's rights has launched the Spirit of Women Changemakers Small Grants Programme. The Spirit of Women Changemakers small grants programme has been launched to mark and celebrate the centenary of the iconic moment in 1918 when women first won the right to vote. Changemakers will fund projects that creatively challenge the damaging gender norms and stereotypes which continue to limit women's freedom to express themselves and live as the lives they choose. The programme will offer grants of between £5,000 and £15,000 to organisations to deliver new projects which offer creative, cultural, sporting or volunteering responses to the following challenges:
  • Improving women's body confidence and challenging objectification in all areas of life, including in personal relationships; and
  • Challenging traditional gendered caring roles and the undervaluing of care.
The Fawcett Society welcome applications from a range of organisations including, but not exclusively, registered charities and community interest companies. The deadline for expressions of interest is 22nd December 2016. Read more HERE. 

N. W. Arts and Health Festive (not) Hoedown
Great that some people are getting together next week for an Arts & Health Northern extravaganza! Well - a bag of Hula Hoops and some Vimto! Come on - keep the arts and health flame alive. Want to come - you have until cock-crow on Tuesday morn to register HERE.

A Slow Reveal of Some Important Dementia Research...
Dementia and Imagination will be sharing a mixture of research and some arts interventions at Wellcome on January 31st. For the first unveiling of it’s mixed-methods research findings, many of those involved in this project will be trouping off to the capital to share some important findings. How I’d love to post a teaser here - but alas - I must hold back. But the event is free, and will book up soon, so register interest in attending by clicking HERE. You can read a BMJ Open team article HERE. The paper - Dementia and Imagination: a mixed-methods protocol for arts and science research - describes our research collaboration which we hope, address’s current evidence limitations around the benefits of visual art activities in dementia care. The research questions ask: Can art improve quality of life and well-being? If it does make a difference, how does it do this—and why? Does it have wider social and community benefits?

Well-heeled knicker manufacturer Joe Corré, son of Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren and Dame Vivienne Westwood has burnt $7 million worth of punk artefacts (yeah, right - prove it) in a protest of what he describes as the increased commercialisation of the punk. What a £50million plonker - couldn’t he have auctioned it off and given it all to the likes of Electric Umbrella? Maybe have a go at actually supporting people who might be just a tad marginalised in society. But, he may have a bit of a point… “…the Queen giving 2016, the Year of Punk, her official blessing is the most frightening thing I’ve ever heard,” Corré said in a press release. “Talk about alternative and punk culture being appropriated by the mainstream. Rather than a movement for change, punk has become like a f     g museum piece or a tribute act.” Hey Ho. Perhaps Electric Umbrella are the real thing eh Joe? Just a shame that learning disabled musicians don’t have your cash to burn.

Punk Christmas - Listen, watch, buy or donate at

Funding for charities to develop an effective web presence (UK)
The Transform Foundation has funding available to help charities to develop an effective web presence. In collaboration with Raising IT, the largest UK provider of charity websites, the £18,000 funding package will help:
  • To equip charities with the technology to transform their organisation
  • A digital engagement focused strategy to future-proof the charity
  • A professionally designed website to inspire supporters
  • Measurement built in to help the charity track results and maximise impact.
The grants will cover 100 per cent of the upfront costs which means that grant recipient will only need to fund ongoing costs. To be eligible, applicants must have an income of between £400,000 and £20 million. (Organisations outside of this income range may apply, but depending on the nature of the project, a preliminary discussion may be required to determine whether it is appropriate). The first step is to submit an online application. Charities will hear back in one week whether they've been selected for stage 2. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until at least the first half of 2017. Read more by clicking HERE.

Music grants for older people (England & Wales)

The registered charity, Concertina which makes grants of up to £250 to charitable bodies which provide musical entertainment and related activities for the elderly has announced that the next deadline for applications is the 30th April 2017. The charity is particular keen to support smaller organisations which might otherwise find it difficult to gain funding. Concertina has made grants to a wide range of charitable organisations nationwide in England and Wales. These include funds to many care homes for the elderly to provide musical entertainment for their residents. Read more by clicking on The Slits below. You couldn't script it, could you?