Sunday, 30 September 2018


Over October and November I’ll be facilitating some Manchester Declaration sessions across Greater Manchester (GM) as part of the development of guiding principles to underpin the Manchester Institute for Arts, Health & Social Change. Across our ten districts of GM, we have a huge breadth of individuals and groups across our communities, and we have many people of who fall off the radar in the shadow of the bigger organisations - we want to connect with you! 

So - what’s it all about? Well if you’re reading this, you’re probably someone who believes in the power of the arts in all their forms - know it in your mind, feel it in your heart - it courses through your veins with a passion. Participating in the arts and soaking up culture is food for your very being - your sanity, your health and just possibly as a means of social change. But how does it manifest in your life?

In fact - these conversations have already begun through two large scale events and two very small events! Last week I had the great pleasure to be invited to share some of the Institute’s aspirations with the steering group of Venture Arts - and explore their dreams too. I left feeling motivated and inspired by this session with a couple of deep resonant ideas about what art making does - explicitly - ‘it makes us powerful’ - and thinking through future collective possibilities - ‘we’ll get there in the end’. Thank you Venture Arts and thank you to everyone involved on Friday.

This Manchester Declaration will be a shared statement from you and you and you - a diverse mix of people with varied and rich life experiences with all of us contributing to a collective vision for these next five years driven by a belief that - things can be different.

There are an array of researchers* out there who’d like to randomise you, control you, trial you - quantify your being, wringing out and distilling your very essence - those who privilege ways of understanding that are reducible and devoid of nuance and imagination. We however, will inhabit a space that moves towards health creation and social change and we will explore new ways of understanding the potency of arts and culture.

Photo credit -Yes I Wanntt Do Trricksserr,
Barry Anthony Finan courtesy of OutsiderXchanges
So if you represent a group of people who are somehow disconnected from wider arts/health conversations in Greater Manchester, but want to be part of this declaration - get in touch - there’s a real power in difference and exchange. If you don’t want to take part in a session - why not send me responses to any of the following comments/questions? Either way - email me HERE.

1. If you could shout from the rooftops - tell the world about what you do - what would you be sharing - what's your story?

2. Research - how might we do things differently?

3. How do you imagine the arts influencing social change?

4. Who defines value and what might new knowledge look like?

I see the dear old Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published one of its national Happiness Surveys in which it reveals that Aldershot (in the Hampshire district of Rushmore) is the happiest part of the UK. A pithy little article in the Guardian suggests that the ONS might not reflect lived experience of all its citizens, with Mark & Spencer and Poundworld all having recently closed down and a number of shops on its main street being ‘boarded up.’ “If you can show me one person in Aldershot who’s happy, I’ll give you a free haircut,” promised the local barber Giovanni Gomma, and in one of the ‘highest Brexit-voting constituencies in the south of England,’ one resident having coffee with her mates outside Costa report that, “everything is closed here, there is nothing to do,  people call it Aldershit.” In other Aldershot news, I see a woman who dumped demolition waste, including hazardous asbestos in the local recreation ground has been fined more than £1,400. Ah you can’t beat good old statistics!

Cartwheel Arts, art for well-being team run creative projects across Greater Manchester with an aim to maintain or enhance well-being for adults and young people. We are currently recruiting to expand out freelance team. We contract experienced artists and Emotional Support Workers, who are either Art Therapists or registered Counsellors, to deliver projects in tandem, providing artistic inspiration and learning as well as robust support systems for vulnerable participants. If you are interested in Emotional Support Worker roles follow the link HERE to find out more.  

Clod Ensemble are coming up to Salford this Autumn with a brand new show, Placebo.  We'll be premiering the piece at The Lowry from 11-13 October. We are partnering with Manchester Science Festival, Wellcome Collection and other cultural & health institutions to deliver a programme of workshops and talks about the placebo effect. This programme is called The Power of Placebo, and will bring together scientists, artists, ethicists and anthropologists, to explore how our attitudes, beliefs, relationships, rituals and environments can affect our health for better or for worse.  The events will be especially interesting for those interested in medical humanities and arts in health. To find out more about this exciting range of events click HERE or on the flyer above.

Manchester Museum and Ambition for Ageing, supported by the Big Lottery Fund’s Ageing Better programme and Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund’s Great Place Scheme, are delighted to be recruiting for this brand new post. The Age-Friendly Culture Champions Manager will continue to develop the existing Culture Champions programme within Manchester, and extend it – in collaboration with existing champions – across agreed areas of Greater Manchester. Further details, including how to apply, can be found HERE. 


Established in 1973, Lime is an award winning Arts and Health charity based at Manchester Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (MFT). Lime delivers a range of artist led projects across MFT as part of its site specific environmental arts programme and the participatory arts programme. We now have a new and exciting opportunity at Lime for an experienced project manager to coordinate and drive forward Lime’s Environmental Arts Programme. The Project Manager will report to the Director of Lime to ensure the scope and direction of each project falls in line with Lime’s Vision for the Arts at MFT. They will demonstrate adequate knowledge, skills and experience of successfully managing complex art and design projects within the public domain. They will also work closely with major stakeholders, partners and project teams to ensure Trust protocols are adhered to and projects are completed on time and within budget.

This post presents an exciting opportunity to become a key member of Lime and make a major contribute towards the successful delivery of a diverse arts and health programme across MFT.
This post is fixed term, however it will be reviewed for continuation in March 2019. Full details HERE.

And Breathe…
Steve Slack writes about the And Breathe… exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery which he says offers ‘an experimental space dedicated to our minds and wellbeing and asks us to use a painting as a way of switching off our busy brains.’ Read more HERE. 

*the narcissists propagating a reductionist research cult, who look likely to dominate the centre ground of mainstream arts and health. Be afraid, be very afraid…

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