Sunday, 13 September 2020

Lord Howarth, Creative Health and the...

...World Healthcare Congress
It seems a lifetime ago since day-to-day normality involved hugging and laughter and skittish interactions with friends and complete strangers - that wonderful noisy, brash existence - although, yes, I have enjoyed privileged moments that solitude has offered me these last months too, walking out into nearby countryside. But what I'd do to have a coffee in a cafe without fearing I'd keel over - admittedly my own vulnerabilities have added complexity to this time. Worryingly I find myself craving the fumes of petrol and bitumen - of the oozing black tar from telegraph poles on hot summer days.

Recently I caught myself feeling a nostalgia for aviation (!) - the long-haul, the possibility of extra leg room and the awful transit-cattle-market of the whole experience - yet somehow.... Pulling myself up short - I realise that those days are temporarily over for everyone and that perhaps there should be less opportunity for mass aviation, given what we know and see. I still crave difference and unknown landscapes - but at what cost? As my work shrivels up and morphs into very sensible online video conversations and conferences - I recently stepped up to an invisible lectern to speak at a conference in Singapore with equally invisible hoards of online delegates - a working life similar to that I had prior to the pandemic/diagnosis, seems lightyears away, and in terms of the planet - for the better.

To those of you visiting this blog in a time of Covid, the World Healthcare Congress, Europe - which was co-curated by Esme Ward and myself back in March 2019 - 
may seem vintage, in its lack of foresight of the pandemic. It was filmed by Dave Bewick and his team at Shortform Media with funding from the British Council and much of what is discussed and shown may be even more relevant today as culture and the arts take on a different significance. This short film which has not been seen before, gives some flavour of the congress where arts and health was one of the three conference strands. In it you'll hear from Lord Howarth of Newport, Gerri Moriarty, CEO of Arts Council England, Darren Henley and many, many more. The film is below and runs to around fifteen minutes. For those of you interested in more of a raucous, quick-fire Manchester slant, there is a four minute stand-alone film with amongst others, film director Danny Boyle; yes, that Danny Boyle - HERE. 

14-18 September
Saxophonist and activist Soweto Kinch is curating a collection of performances and discussions which will not only feature a strong line-up of musicians and speakers – original music from Kinch, Jay Phelps and Xhosa Cole, and choreography by Jade Hackett – but has some historical heft too. These events will be available via our computer screens, tablets and phones each evening from Monday 14 to Friday 18 September.

“Throughout this summer, British bridges, streets and squares that were the scene of violent race riots in 1919, will be transformed into dynamic stages, galleries and plinths to creatively explore this past. It’s easy to get the erroneous idea that mobs of ‘woke’ millennials are suddenly forcing Britons to confront ‘diversity’ for the first time – however, from Glasgow to Barry, and indeed Chicago and New York the entire western world was engulfed in racial conflict over 101 years ago.

With a mixture of improvised responses, existing material and new commissioned work we intend to shed new light on Britain’s fractious relationship with race and class. What is distinct about a ‘British working class’?  Why is the pre-Windrush Black British presence so often overlooked? If there were the scenes of violent racial animus over a century ago, what is to prevent it from recurring? especially amidst a post Covid-19 deep recession.

The backdrop of today’s civil unrest, statues being torn down and serious soul searching across Britain, mean that there has rarely been a more opportune moment to explore ignored British history – radically challenging the way ‘British’, ‘White’ and ‘Working-Class’ identities have been constructed. As Soweto Kinch describes, ‘1919 established and entrenched hierarchies of racism that have yet to be undone’."

Join Soweto Kinch and his superb line-up from London, Hull, Salford, Liverpool, Cardiff and Newport for this exclusive curated series of online performances, bringing the past to life and making sense of the present! Full details HERE.

Artangel presents 24 leading thinkers converge in a non-stop 12-hour conversation relay, live-streamed online! Embracing the essence of Longplayer as a contemplation of the future, the Assembly brings together 24 participants from around the world, whose individual specialism embodies long term thought.

Each speaker will converse in turn, passing the virtual baton every 30 minutes in a non-stop 12-hour live relay. We have just released the schedule of timings and pairings so you can read about each participant on our website to get a glimpse into the themes and differing viewpoints they will be bringing to the Assembly. From epidemiologist Precious Lunga to astrophysicist Janna Levin by way of Laurie Anderson and Brian Eno. Saturday 26 September, 10:00 – 22:00 BST. Full details HERE.

'The filmwork of Alan Lomax is a resource for students, researchers, filmmakers, and fans of America's traditional music and folkways. Shot throughout the American South and Southwest over the course of seven years (1978--1985) in preparation for the series, "American Patchwork," which aired in 1991, these videos consist of performances, interviews, and folkloric scenes culled from 400 hours of raw footage, many of which have never been seen publicly.

The project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. 
This short film is from the section 1982-1983: Central & Southern Appalachia (1982-1983). Amongst other things, this section includes: Cloggers and buck dancers; bluegrass and string bands; white gospel groups; stories, folktales, and ballads from coal miners, tobacco farmers, and former bootleggers. It's an extraordinary archive. What struck me about this little 'white gospel' film (and I'm not a religious person) is the sense of community and communal euphoria. Quite a thing. You can see the whole archive HERE.

Thanks to NS for giving me faith in humanity...

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