Sunday, 6 September 2015

. . . people, places and things

On Tuesday 1st September I was a guest of the UK Recovery Federation at their annual gathering here at MMU, and with a sold-out event of 250 people including activists and ‘professionals’ - my sharing of the Recoverist Manifesto could have been make or break. My harshest critics so far have certainly been people in recovery, but if I’m being entirely honest, it’s been people taking part in Manifesto sessions that have been initially reticent, only to bloom and get stuck in when they got involved in all the blasting and bombardiering that takes place in the sessions. Essentially, it’s all about nurturing our voices and moving away from passivity to proactivity - thus Recoverism was born.

The day was beautifully planned and facilitated by all those involved and my personal thanks to Alistair for inviting me and embracing the Recoverist ideals which tally so perfectly with his vision and so many people who are in recovery from substance misuse. If you think the Recoverist agenda isn’t relevant for you - that you’re not addicted to anything - you may want to look a little deeper, because one of our real concerns is simply the insecurity of contemporary life where - as Michael Billington has commented - compulsions take the place of convictions and we are all hooked on something.

So, we’re moving forward and alongside aspirations and vision captured at recent events in Ireland, Holland and the UK, whatever the next iteration of the Recoverist Manifesto will be, it’ll pack a bittersweet punch.

With addiction and recovery in mind, it’s worth noting that a new play co-produced by the National Theatre was premiered last week. I’ve not yet seen People, Places and Things by Duncan Macmillan, but judging by the reviews, it adds to the whole arts and addiction agenda perfectly. Billed as “a mesmeric trip into addiction, rehab and identity” –  “it throws up a host of perceptions about the things that drive people to desperate self-medication and about what it is in the psychology of (someone misusing) that makes the road to recovery so fraught with difficulty”. You can read an Independent review by clicking HERE.

A War Criminal's Distraction
It’s been a hellish week in terms of people escaping from war-torn Syria and no glib comments from me here. The only thing that really galls me as I consume the news in all its guises, is that Tony Blair still insists on popping up in the UK press with sage words of wisdom, particularly around the Labour leadership elections. Does the man not realise he’s having an opposite impact to the one he intends to have? Arrogant egotist. We’re still awaiting the publication of the Chilcot Inquiry and his personal involvement in what was largely seen as an illegal war - a war that is intrinsically connected to the chain of events that has led to this unfolding tragedy.

I note that whilst the UK government sent low-level representatives to the Beijing 70th anniversary celebrations of China’s 1945 victory, its massive parade of weapons (probably of mass-destruction) in Tiananmen Square featured Russian president Vladimir Putin, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the international criminal court for mass atrocities, and non other than everyone's favourite special envoy, Tony Blair. How he must have relished the sight of such a fine military display.

Interesting then that John Baron, MP, discussing the protracted delays in John Chilcot’s Iraq Inquiry, recently told the Observer: “I have no doubt that some vested interests have resisted disclosure and this has helped delay progress. Having been interviewed by Sir John as part of the inquiry, I believe he is determined to address the central issue as to whether No 10 intentionally misled the nation as to the case for war.”

A Labour Party Art Manifesto
Quoting theatre director David Lan, Jeremy Corbyn set out his manifesto for the arts this week, with dissent and democracy being at its heart: “dissent is necessary to democracy, and democratic governments should have an interest in preserving sites in which that dissent can be expressed”.

Furthermore he tore apart the narrow instrumentalist stance that dominates the econometric justification of the arts: "Under the guise of a politically motivated austerity programme, this government has savaged arts funding with projects increasingly required to justify their artistic and social contributions in the narrow, ruthlessly instrumentalist approach of the Thatcher governments."

He concluded: “A successful economy and a healthy, creative, open and vibrant democratic society depend on a flourishing creative sector,” {…} “Culture and the arts play an essential role in individual and community wellbeing. If we are to achieve our goal in government of supporting people in leading more enjoyable and fulfilling lives, funding for the arts must be central to that offer.”

Here's to a brighter future that challenges the status quo and offers real societal change.

Next months 2020+ Arts, Society and Public Health looks set to be a corker! Fresh back from the Green Man Festival, we’ve got the 3 research artists from Dementia and Imagination sharing some of their ongoing work alongside Dr Katherine Taylor and I’ve had some amazing expressions of interest in sharing from the region and further afield. I’ll share this all next week. Tickets are going fast - and please don’t get too hung up on the words ‘public health’ - if you’re from health settings you are more than welcome to attend. It’s just one of our regional events - made big! Limited tickets left HERE.

No such thing as bad publicity?
Drug suppliers to the masses and central characters in a string of financial scandals, GlaxoSmithKlien (GSK) are partnering up with The King’s Fund again to launch the 2016 GSK IMPACT Awards, which will be open for applications from UK charities until 25 September 2015. In a time of 'fiscal' restraint and 'deficit' reduction, I imagine a lot of small arts organisations are in need of a spot of cash and publicity - just exercise caution with this one! 

Arts and Health Research Post
The ludicrously named, Not so grim up North brings together three organisations in the field of health, culture and wellbeing; the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester (on behalf of Manchester Museums and Galleries Partnership), Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) and researchers at University College London (UCL). For full job details click HERE.

Funding for research & projects that address learning disabilities
The Baily Thomas Charitable Fund is a registered charity which was established to provide both research and project funding in the area of learning disability and to aid the care and relief of those affected by learning disability. The Trust consider under learning disability the conditions generally referred to as severe learning difficulties, together with autism. In this area, they consider projects concerning children or adults. Applications will only be considered from voluntary organisations which are registered charities or are associated with a registered charity. Schools and Parent Teacher Associations and Industrial & Provident Societies can also apply. Funding in the past has ranged in value from £250 to £150,000.

The next deadline for research funding is the 1st February 2016. The deadline for project funding in excess of £10,000 is the 1st December 2015. Application for project funding for £10,000 or less can be submitted at any time. Read more by clicking on the sleeping rabbits above.


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