Sunday, 17 January 2016

...on the sublime

There will be profound and crass things written about the death of David Bowie and it will be interesting to see how people unpick the artistry of his death and subsequent cremation. As one of the millions/minions who grew up under his influence, it’s impossible to pick a favourite track,(although it might be Drive in Saturday, or perhaps Sound and Vision  or, or, or...) so here’s a less obvious song written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington in 1957 and here because it is quite simply, sublime.

A new strategic initiative spearheaded by Dr Malcolm Rigler and The Sound Agents is asserting the place of libraries in the centre of our communities. From personal experience, I know that libraries can be the beating hearts of our towns. Whilst museums and galleries have quite rightly attracted attention through their potential to attract new audiences, promote a wellbeing agenda and maybe - just maybe - address inequalities, libraries have taken a significant beating from a government hell-bent on eradicating them from our high streets. 

In Lancaster and Morecambe the libraries constantly stimulate local participation. I've seen films that you can't see elsewhere, bands that do near-secret gigs - think, amongst others, Juliet Lewis (from Hollywood to Morecambe Library!) and faded balladeers The Thrills, but more poignantly, I know my local library offers something of a sanctuary for local people who are for all sorts of reasons, marginalised. Many moons ago I worked in a large hospital for people with learning disabilities, then years later I managed a drop-in centre for people experiencing schizophrenia. Well, I know that some of those people, (and whose access to services is now grossly reduced and whose lifestyles are administered by quantified, crude, reductivist systems) like nothing more than to use the library as a safe, creative and welcoming space. I know this, because this is the place where I meet people and catch up on old times. 

I recently read the author Neil Gaiman describing how the US government knew how to predict how many prison cells they'll need in fifteen years time - use a simple algorithm based simply on how many children between 10 - 11 can read. In the same article he quoted Albert Einstein who when asked how we could make our children intelligent, replied: "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Gaiman expands beautifully on the place of fiction in health societies.

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon has stressed the transformative effect on both a family and the wider community when women are literate. 

“Literate women are more likely to send their children, especially their girls, to school,” he said. “By acquiring literacy, women become more economically self-reliant and more actively engaged in their country’s social, political and cultural life. All evidence shows that investment in literacy for women yields high development dividends.”

“Every literate woman marks a victory over poverty,” he noted, calling for “increasing funding and sustained advocacy for quality literacy programmes that empower women and ensure that girls and boys at primary and secondary level do not become a new generation of young illiterates.”

This strategic Libraries & Health Partnership is a critical resource for 21st century communities and our reimagining of health and wellbeing in the heart of the places we live and work. As hubs of learning - places of imagination - and as social condensers - we must support this initiative before libraries are relegated to history.

Awards for All 
Awards for All supports a wide range of activities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, including education, heritage, environment, health, community activities, and in most countries, sports and arts. Applications are received on a continuous basis. Read more at: 

Paul Hamlyn Foundation: Arts-Based Learning Fund 
The new Arts-Based Learning Fund from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF) has grants available to support charities, community organisations, social enterprises and not-for-profit companies active in the arts that are working with schools, further education colleges and teachers to enhance the lives, development and achievements of children and young people. Two types of grant are available to support work at different stages of development:
The Arts-based Learning ‘explore and test' grants provide funding for up to two years to help test or evaluate new approaches.
The Arts-based Learning ‘more and better' grants provide longer, larger grants to help increase the impact and effectiveness of work which has already shown promise or positive impact.
The deadline for applications is 1st February 2016. Read more at: 

...and one more for good measure.


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