Tuesday, 17 November 2020

We’re in the Money!

So - I woke up in the night all hot and bothered - was it my poor old body giving up the ghost, or that virus worming its way through the letterbox on invisible vapours? Alas, nothing so drastic - but hold on - I was feverish at watching the race for the prize unfolding - the cure - the vaccine - our saviours - big pharma! Like most people, I’d welcome a shot in the arm to help us all get back to some sense of normality - though ‘normality’ - what the hell’s that? Trump? (gone, going, itching and scratching away) - Johnson? (still here minus that pernicious sidekick) - food banks? (not going anywhere just yet) - and this beleaguered isolated islands' permanent state of austerity? (it’s only just begun).

Still, the chief exec of Pfizer, Albert Bourla ‘sold shares in the company worth $5.6m (£4.2m) on the day the drugmaker announced that its Covid-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective.’ So he cashed in ‘132,508 shares at $41.94 a share, equivalent to 62% of his shareholding in Pfizer.’ You can dig deeper into this legitimate wheeler-dealing by reading this article by Julia Kollewe HERE. Below is Mr Bourla sitting comfortably in his modest home office, (surrounded by oh so lovely art and a violin) and a bizarre caption below from the New York Times. 



But if 90% efficacy is not good enough for your market share, Moderna’s offering a vaccine at being nearly 95% effective! Moderna has said that, “As of September 30, 2018, we had an accumulated deficit of $865.2 million.” Yet, Sarah Toy reported back in 2018, ‘the compensation of its three highest-paid executive officers made a combined $40 million in cash and stock in 2017. Stephen Hoge, the company’s president, received $19 million in options and a $4.4 million cash bonus in 2017. Lorence Kim, Moderna’s CFO, received $5.5 million in stock and a $1 million cash bonus, while Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel received $4.6 million in options and a $1.5 million cash bonus.’

It could be the dexamethasone that’s keeping me awake and bleary eyed at night, but all that money sloshing around while wholesale unemployment and poverty is on an inevitable rise, sticks in the throat more than any pills do. Thank goodness for Ginger Rogers.
  

WHO CARES? We do - we really do!
On Monday this week, I had the great pleasure of hunkering down with people who care about culture, the arts and all our health throughout this mayhem, as part of the Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance’s - Winter Gatherings. The event was a mixture of digital art, arts practice in communities, poetry and activism, movement and dance and thinking and conversation about what care means to us right here, right now. And of course, the lived experience of many participants was central to our thinking. I’m completely in debt to all of the people that contributed and who made it such a pleasurable event for everyone. Thank you. These events are happening throughout England this week, and you can find details HERE. 

Flourishing Through Creativity- Supporting Better Mental Health
Arts and Health Southwest who have facilitated these Winter Gatherings have some remarkable activities throughout December too, as part of the AHSW Big Give Christmas Challenge, which this year is supporting the South West region through awareness-raising, collaboration and the development of creative activities for those who are experiencing mental ill-health, or facing limited access to the arts due to barriers related to social circumstances and inequality. You can find more details HERE, but to get your mouth watering - on Thursday 3rd December, 12:30 – 1:15pm they have a live conversation with the artist David Shrigley who will talk about his work and thoughts about the arts and mental health. This online event will also offer attendees the chance to pose questions to David, so a great opportunity for discussion about the benefits of the visual arts for wellbeing and better mental health. There’s no set ticket price, but they are encouraging attendees of this event to donate what they can to our Big Give Appeal when it goes live, when every pound donated it is matched and DOUBLED via the Big Give from 1st – 8th December! Now surely, that has piqued your interest! Click HERE for the Shrigley details.

A Gentle Haunting
Over the last few years I’ve had the pleasure of working with Vic McEwan over in remote New South Wales and on a variety of things, from our first work together on The Harmonic Oscillator to delivering artists training around arts, health and social change - and a long term collaboration exploring suicide. Alas the pandemic scuppered our three-day collective performance work at the Riverina Playhouse as part of the Art State Wagga Wagga 2020, but not to be foiled by the virus or my own fragility, I contributed a short film to Vic’s performative presentation instead. So this short film is a seven minute contemplative piece as I’ve been walking in the hills above my town since January, all caught on a mobile phone. I’ve written up a transcript with some references both literary and personal - and left some to the imagination! You can find all that HERE. You can watch the film by clicking on the image below.

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