Sunday, 28 May 2017

...Vic McEwan and more

Save the Date: 29 June 13:00 - 15:30 @TATE Liverpool
A free North West Arts & Health Network & TATE Exchange event

TICKETS available HERE

The Harmonic Oscillator
Between 25th June and 1st July, Australian artist Vic McEwan will be in residence at TATE Liverpool as part of their TATE Exchange programme, where he will be exhibiting and performing pieces of work as a direct response to his time in residence at Alder Hey Hospital. Over the last few years as a guest of Arts and Health Co-ordinator, Vicky Charnock and in collaboration with Arts for Health, Vic has spent time observing the acoustic environment of the hospital particularly thinking about noise and sound under the working title of The Harmonic Oscillator. I've had the opportunity to work closely with Vic over this period and am excited to be sharing some of this work at the National Gallery of Art, Lithuania, TATE Liverpool, at the Culture, Health and Wellbeing, International Conference and as part of The Big Anxiety festival.
My contribution will be published observations of Vic's work in the context of our arts/health agenda, and I can promise Vic's work will be both surprising and liberating, provoking the mind and demanding curiosity. More details about TATE Exchange will follow soon, but here's an 
advanced notice of an event on 29th June between 13:00 and 15:30. We'll be hosting a free event, where you can meet Vic and find out more about this collaborative artist-led project, and experience some of the work, and a performance. We will have very limited places, so I will tweet, facebook and blog the details of how you can reserve a place over the next week. Please don't email me for a place, as it will be via eventbrite. Thank you.

Engaging Libraries Programme opens for applications 
The Carnegie UK Trust has announced that its Engaging Libraries Programme is now open for applications. The programme which is a partnership between the Carnegie UK Trust and the Wellcome Trust offers grants of £5,000 - £15,000 to libraries to deliver creative and imaginative public engagement projects on health and wellbeing. Applicants must be public library services - but the programme has a strong emphasis on collaboration and encourages libraries to think about a broad range of potential partnership opportunities in the delivery of their projects. The Carnegie UK Trust are aiming to support between 8 - 10 libraries and activities must be completed between October 2017 and October 2018. The closing date for applications is 5pm the 23rd August 2017. Read more HERE.

Music grants for older peopleThe 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 31st October 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 HERE.

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. Organisations can apply for both one-off short-term projects and for projects lasting up to three years. Preference will be given to those projects which have a deep commitment to listening to children and allow the perceptions and feelings of children themselves to be better understood. 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.

Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. 
Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin can openers…1
Oh that life were so simple! I began my presentation to the ARTLANDS 2016 conference in New South Wales with the iconic John Hodge monologue on selfish individualism, written for the film of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, and which offered (I hope) a heroin-flavoured indictment of contemporary life and a spring-board from which we discussed the arts, social justice and inequalities, which I argued - underpins all our health. 

Through the sublime music of Louis Armstrong, I attempted to take those listening on a journey through a bloody civil war, in what was then, the Belgian Congo, via Central High School in Arkansas and the Little Rock Nine, all the time, exploring the relevance of the arts in an unfolding political maelstrom, suggesting that in the heart of fractured and unequal societies, artists are offered up as the answers to all life’s problems.

Through music, verbatim theatre and poetry I explored inequalities and social injustices, suggesting how the arts might offer us different kinds of evidence, and where grass roots organisations like #BlackLivesMatter perhaps, represent a cohesive force for social and cultural change, across a spectrum of inequalities. 

As civil unrest continues to regularly erupt across America, and as President Trump (Hародный герой) 
crassly bulldozes his way through office, I suggested that the ways in which health is now understood is increasingly focused on competition and not compassion. 

Into this largely clinical context the arts and health agenda has emerged as a force to humanise healing environments and advance its relationship with medicine as a means to achieving individual health. But perhaps if we begin to understand public health in terms of equity and justice, then we might engage more deeply with the social determinants of health, and not simply decorate the edges of our individual lives. 

The arts and health movement, seems to be thriving, yet without diversity, we risk becoming inward looking and self-congratulatory and dominated by self-promoting twerps, not dissimilar to Trump! Now, more than ever, we need to disrupt inequalities and social injustices and perhaps, the arts might just enable that parity of voice. As we observe the incremental incursions of free-marketeers into the field, and knee-jerk twitter-feed decisions of a reality-TV President, I am reminded of the prescient observations of James Baldwin in 1972:

“Ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.2

1. Trainspotting (1996) Directed by Danny Boyle. Written by John Hodge, based on the novel by Irvine Welsh.

2. Baldwin, James. “No Name in the Street”, Michael Joseph, London, 1972

This is an edited extract from Weapons of Mass Happiness at ARTLANDS Dubbo 2016. 
It includes extracts from a chapter in the forthcoming book:

Music, Health, and Wellbeing: Exploring Music for Health Equity and Social Justice, published in 2017 by Palgrave Macmillan and is co-edited by: Naomi Sunderland, Natalie Lewandowski, Dan Bendrups, and Brydie-Leigh Bartleet.


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