Sunday, 11 May 2014

Small notes from a field in England

Randomised Thoughts, Controlled Ramblings and a few Trialised Thoughts 
On 22nd May between 4:00pm - 6:30pm the North West Arts and Health Network will be hosting a special event with Mike White from the Centre for Medical Humanities. Author of Arts Development in Community Health: A Social Tonic which is just about the only arts/health book I recommend, (alongside The Spirit Level) and some blistering blog postings including the recent Directions and Misdirections in Arts in HealthMike will be giving a presentation on all things arts/health and having a conversation with all of us attending. This is a rare opportunity to meet and discuss arts, health and community development with arguably the leading light in the field. Register for the free event at and confirmation and venue details will be emailed to you on Tuesday 20th May.

Thank you for the lovely email after last weeks blog. It makes it all worthwhile. I’m getting to grips with the annual exhibition that Arts for Health co-curates with colleagues at the Holden Gallery. It’s true to say Urban Psychosis is getting under my skin. You’ll know that Will Self will be speaking here in July and this week, I went out to Piccadilly Records and bought Damon Albarn’s new album, Everyday Robots - and you could knock me down with a feather! - the whole thing is pure Urban Psychosis...or at least, Damon’s own psycho-geography.If you have access to DA please ask if he’d be interested in giving us an acoustic set in late July? We will be showing, amongst others, the work of Eija Liisa Ahtila, Matthew Buckingham, Sophie Calle, Luke Fowler and Gillian Wearing and are planning some very special events! Keep your eyes on this blog for more details.

So this week, I’ve been digesting further inequalities (sorry if it bores some of you) and Arts Professional highlight that poor areas are suffering the highest local authority arts cuts. Here’s some info from their website.

The most deprived of England’s local authority areas have faced an average funding cut of 18%, which has translated to a cut to arts, libraries and heritage of 22%, according to Shadow Minister for Culture Helen Goodman MP. The second poorest quartile of councils, which have faced an average resource loss of 10%, have so far implemented a 19% cut for culture. In an attempt to quantify the impact of local authority cuts on the arts, Goodman submitted Freedom of Information requests to every local authority in England. She also found that 50% of Councils in the least deprived areas had seen an overall spending cut of 6%, including a 7% loss to culture. Speaking at the Prospect Seminar ‘Heritage in a Cold Climate’, she said: “The Department for Culture, Media and Sport have totally failed to persuade Eric Pickles of the case for culture and the arts. So, funding is dwindling across the country, as local authorities seek to protect statutory services. Just as the overall local authority cuts have hit the most deprived areas hardest, cuts to culture and arts are afflicting those who can least afford it.”

Now I pack for a week in Italy where I’ll be facilitating some RECOVERIST MANIFESTO events. What, you didn’t know about Recoverism? It’s a movement, just like Impressionism (but less chocolate-box insipid), or Futurism (but with less of the UKIP flavour), or Craftivism (but...wait on a minute...its very like Craftivism). OK, we’re upping the ante and building on the US Recovery Bill of Rights, which states:  “Our nation’s response to the crisis of addiction should be based on the engagement and involvement of the recovery community – people in recovery, their families, friends and allies – and on sound public health science. Policies and programs must close the gap between science and policy. By speaking out and putting a human face on recovery, people in or seeking recovery and their families play a critical role in breaking down barriers. These personal “faces and voices of recovery” serve powerfully to educate the public about addiction and recovery and about discrimination against those seeking sustained recovery.” Recoverism, as opposed to a bill of rights, is poetically putting people at the heart of their own stories. We’ll share on July 17th, but here's a taste - and don't worry if it doesn't make sense yet - it will all come together.

    I don’t know and it’s ok I don’t know...

Hey – who was it that said, ‘boys don’t cry’ – because they’re wrong. Boys do cry, girls cry – women and men cry too! 
Not sure who you are? 
Well, don’t you cry? We all do. FACT.

We are more than inconvenient statistics - pathological stereotypes - pedalled by the media. We are people in recovery
    We are lovers - children, parents, sisters, brothers - we are friends. 
         Imperfect everyday humans with lives beyond quick diagnoses and simple labels.’s not profound, I just feel it, that’s all

Wednesday 21th May 2014 15:00 – 17:30
Last Friday, I had the great pleasure to attend the very stimulating AHRC funded, Public Arts Now: Thinking Beyond Measurement workshop, facilitated by UCLAN’s Prof Lynn Froggett and Dr Ali Roy with able support by SITUATIONS Michael Prior. They offered a deeper and more nuanced understanding of cultural value in the context of art in the public realm. Lovely to meet new and exciting people too. Ali Roy will be sharing more of his work that’s been developed with the Men’s Room. 

Walking as a research method has been adopted in anthropology and ethnography, cultural geography and qualitative social science as an innovative way to produce knowledge. This body of work is based on the oft-cited notion of the co-ingredience of people and place, the idea that identities, experiences and behaviours are embedded in the places a person inhabits. This seminar presents findings from a research project conducted with the Men’s Room, Manchester, an arts and social care agency which works creatively with young men involved with sex work or with experience of sexual exploitation and those with experience of homelessness and/or the criminal justice system. In the project seven ‘walking tours’ were conducted with the young men as part of the research. Young men were invited to lead a researcher and a Men’s Room staff member on a walking tour of city centre sites they associated with their survival. On arrival at each stop, we asked them to take a photograph and, if they were happy to, tell a story about the site. The seminar concludes by arguing that there is a need to better understand the trajectories of movement experienced by young men facing severe and multiple disadvantage in order to provide appropriate support. More details and registration by clicking on the walkers below.

From our own (Arts and Health) correspondent….
Singer, Victoria Hume worked for many years on the London Arts and Health Forum and at the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust. She moved to South Africa recently and is posting some excellent blogs, of which the extract below is taken. Click on the picture below to link to her blog.

"...the notion of social responsibility in the arts is – I would contest – more embedded here (in South Africa) than in the UK. {…} South Africa lacks the embarrassment we have had to contend with for years in the UK around engaged practice. This is at last changing in the UK, thanks in part to artists like Grayson Perry who engage with the politics both of their practice and of the society around them." 

Grants to Help New, Innovative Visual Arts Projects 
The Elephant Trust has announced that the next deadline for applications is the 7th July 2014. The Trust offers grants to artists and for new, innovative visual arts projects based in the UK. The Trust's aim is to make it possible for artists and those presenting their work to undertake and complete projects when confronted by lack of funds. The Trust supports projects that develop and improve the knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the fine arts. Priority is now being given to artists and small organisations and galleries who should submit well argued, imaginative proposals for making or producing new work or exhibitions. Arts Festivals are not supported. The Trust normally awards grants of up to £2,000, but larger grants may be considered. Read more at

Carnegie Challenge 
The Carnegie UK Trust has announced that it is offering up to ten not-for-profit organisations from the UK and Ireland the opportunity to win grants worth £3,000 to hold inspiring debates on how to improve people’s wellbeing. The Carnegie UK Trust has been arguing that focusing on delivering economic growth as the sole indicator of social prosperity is flawed. Instead, the Trust believes the time is right for the UK and Ireland to shift its emphasis from economic production to improving people’s lives more broadly.  The Carnegie Challenge aims to support events around the UK and Ireland that will deepen understanding of what influences individual and societal wellbeing; explore how best to measure wellbeing and how this can be used to shape policy and practice; or examine what practical steps can be taken by third sector organisations and governments to improve wellbeing.There will be three funding rounds in 2014 and the next closing date for applications is the 14th July 2014. Read more at:

Advanced notice of the 6th Annual International Arts, Health & Wellbeing Conference in Melbourne between 11 - 13 November this year. 
Click on the image above for details.

Call for Entries!
Northern Artist Film Programme
Deadline 6 June
We are looking for artists and filmmakers in the North of England who are pushing the boundaries in artist film. We want to showcase a range of new, inspirational and challenging film art from emerging northern talent. We want excellent work that captures the imagination of the public, many of whom would be new to artist film. For more information, click on the still from the sublime (but oh so distrurbing), A Field in England by Ben Wheatley.

Untold Stories in Health and Illness
Saturday 17th May Manchester
Click on the dear little tiger for more information

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