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 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.

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. 

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

‘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:

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

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