Sunday, 4 August 2019

These first 100 days...

The Arts as a Painkiller
Very interesting (at last) to read comments from international journalists and commentators on just how irrelevant the UK is becoming in the eyes of the world. With a temporary 'charismatic' leader in office and his Secretary of State for Health wedded to the idea of social prescribing, (offering up artists as deliverers of free social cures). I hear too, that the vain-glorious PM, (with no mandate from the population) has offered up culture as one of his 'ingredients' for the UK's future success. As well as Carrie Symonds (his girlfriend) being a history of art and theatre studies graduate, he has appointed one-time-communist turned Tory/Brexiteer, Munira Mirza as the director of the No 10 Policy Unit. Oldham born Mirza is way, way smarter than her boss and has said some troubling and very astute stuff around arts/health in the past. Read her essay The Arts as a Painkiller in this collection HERE. Over these first hundred days, my overarching concern is that we may shortly be blindsided by apparent investments in our communities of interest. After pledges to plough 
£1.8bn into the NHS, it all sounds positive and like a lot of money, but let's not forget that the NHS actually has a current backlog of around £6bn of repairs or replacements that need carrying out. Don't be lulled by career public servants and philanthropists looking for a quick fix, efficiencies and some feel-good news stories. Be on guard - be very on guard.

The PM and British Royal Family in their Sunday finery

A Greater Manchester Arts, Health & Social Change event - HOLD THE DATE!
On the evening of the 10th September the Manchester Institute for Arts, Health & Social Change will be hosting a free event for people living and working across the city region. It will be between 5:30 - 7:30pm and full details will be available on the MIAHSC website shortly, but you can book a place on Eventbrite right now. As ever it's a free event, so please only book if you intend to come. Thanks.

Deputy Leader of the Labour Party on Brexit and Global Talent
The Creative Industries Federation is delighted to host the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Shadow Culture Secretary, Tom Watson MP, at Somerset House from 9.30am - 11am on 11 September for an important speech on Brexit, global talent and the future of the creative industries. Full details and registration are HERE. 

World Suicide Prevention Day
START would like to invite you to our ‘Vigil & Procession of Remembrance’ on World Suicide Prevention Day, Tuesday, 10th September, 2019. The vigil & procession is in remembrance of those that we have lost to suicide, but also in support of those that have lost their loved ones to suicide. Unfortunately, those that have lost loved ones to suicide are often isolated and marginalised in their grief from the stigma that surrounds suicide. We will be gathering at STARTs Wellbeing Centre M6 5BZ, at The Procession will then make its way at 6.30pm to the lawned area out Salford Museum & Art Gallery, M6 4WU where at 7.00pm the Vigil will take place. If you would like a loved one’s name added to our Remembrance Roll which will be read as part of the vigil or would like to carry one of the 126 flags with each one representing one of the lives lost to suicide in Salford over the last 5 years, please email Dennis Baldwin HERE. 

From singing together to being read to in a library, an arts participation scheme is transforming lives in Denmark.
With social prescribing very much on the agenda, here's an article from the Guardian that highlights work happening in Denmark.
'In a whitewashed studio in northern Denmark, 11 unemployed strangers are embarking on a hearty rendition of Yellow Submarine. Jonas Thrysøe is not one of them. At least, not yet. The 36-year-old has agoraphobia, rarely leaves the house and can’t think of anything worse than a group singalong. And yet by the second chorus he is putty in the choirmaster’s hands. “I swore I’d just stand at the back and listen,” he says. “But the mood was infectious.” 
Out of work and in his second year of sick leave because of anxiety and panic attacks, Thrysøe had become isolated. “I’d avoid situations where I thought I’d get anxious, until I ended up avoiding all situations. It was a vicious circle,” he says.'

It's an interesting article, but the reporting of it offers some odd assertions. While suggesting that provision for arts on prescription/referral in the UK 'remains patchy' - some of us would welcome diversity of delivery, as a one-size fits all standardised and scaled up provision could be quite a bleak mealy mouthed affair. Just think how mindfulness has been co-opted as new capitalist spirituality. 

On top of this, the Guardian article suggests that in contrast to the UK, 'Australia has had a national arts and health framework to promote integration of the two since 2013.' As someone who has worked in Australia over the last decade, I do know how disjointed and sometimes fractious these communities of interest can be (not dissimilar to the UK) and frameworks and strategies are only of use and interest if taken up and adopted.

Wonderful artists opportunities for Bealtaine - deadlines fast approaching
Artist in Residence in a Care Setting - Call for Artists of all art forms
Age & Opportunity has created an opportunity for care settings and older people living in or attending those settings to engage creatively with an artist over the course of a number of months. Age & Opportunity also wishes to offer an opportunity for an artist to develop their specific skills in relation to working in arts and health settings. In 2019, six artist residencies of this kind will be offered. The application process is two-part: care settings have applied and been selected for this unique opportunity based on an open competition and artists are now invited to apply for a residency in one of these specific care settings.Please read the guidelines below carefully before completing the application form. Deadline is Friday 9th August.

Bealtaine Tour 2020 - Open Call

After a successful call out for 2019, Age & Opportunity once again invites applications from performing artists and theatre producers for an award for work which will tour, during May 2020, as part of the Bealtaine Festival. Age & Opportunity will provide a platform (through the Bealtaine Festival) and additional financial support to a tour which chimes with the mission and aims of the organisation, and the Bealtaine Festival, prioritising work which fulfils the assessment criteria and is radical, challenging, humorous or irreverent. Full details are available in the guidelines document below. Deadline is August 16th.  Details for both are HERE.

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