Monday, 17 May 2021

Present Tense

What a lovely response to the launch of A Social Glue last week. Thanks to everyone who took part in the event and all those who contributed to the work - back in the day, Dr Clare Devaney - all those people who talked things through with me - all of you who provided case studies - the forensic eye of Wills and JMcC and the superb designer Georgia Burns. Thanks all.

If you didn't make it to the launch, a film of the things I discussed - alongside the other wonderful speakers - can all be found HERE. The Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance will magically turn my words into a blog posting shortly, so do look out for that HERE.

The full report of A Social Glue, a summary and the Parallel Narratives can all be found on the Institute website, HERE.


For those eagle-eyed regulars to the blog, you’ll be aware I’ve been through the mangle, the wringer, the mill this last year, with my fragile health and whatnot - so much so - that your blogger is booking into a rather smart hotel for a few weeks to have some kind of tonic! Well, perhaps that’s an exaggeration, though while I do imagine myself in some sanatorium in the Alps, it’s Blackpool and the NHS for me, as I book in for a stem-cell transplant. Like some Frankenstein-ish experiment, I’ll be out for the count for a few weeks.



Yet perhaps the Irish Sea isn’t to dissimilar to the Venetian Lagoon and like an old ham, it’ll be more Death in Venice than Blackpool! And though I shouldn’t tempt fate, I can see my touched-up temples running as I slump down in some cholera infected campo - or a deckchair on the Golden Mile!  So - some phone silence from me and positive vibes through the ether are much appreciated and do forgive me this self indulgence. I hope very much to be speaking at the Culture, Health and Wellbeing International Conference in late June. Full details which you can find HERE. My keynote/film will be a meditation on the toxic and unequal world we live in and a rallying cry for change, all imagined from the perspective of my current fragilities and constructed while confined to a hospital bed! 



For old times sake, here’s an old film I made to coincide with the exhibition I co-curated in 2013, Mortality: Death and the Imagination. I wrote an essay called Present Tense which built on a rather famous and wonderful interview between Melvyn Bragg and Dennis Potter. You can read my essay in full HERE. On its journey it takes in some thoughts on religion and science; the numinous, assisted dying and the Euthanasia Coaster. The music for this short film is by Fennesz and is called Laguna. You can get a taste of Potter and more in this brief three-minute film below.
OK - your blogger is leaving the room...

Monday, 3 May 2021

A SOCIAL GLUE

Reimagining the North West Arts, Health & Social Change Network
Just the biggest thanks to all of you who have been in touch about the reimagining and reworking of our network and how we fit in with the Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance. I'm overwhelmed with the response to my call-out - thank you. Above all, thank you for the care - particularly from those of you I've never met - which is very lovely. Please do get in touch if you want to part of these developments and I'd really welcome anyone from under represented groups. Just email artshealthnorthwest@gmail.com

Most regular readers of this blog will know that I've been having treatment for multiple-myeloma, which comes to a head shortly with stem-cell treatment, (urgh) but I will be in touch with you all and via this blog and email once that treatment is done and dusted! While consuming all sorts of efficacious medicinal compounds, I've been beavering away on all manner of things, one of which is this big old report, which while focused on Greater Manchester, is something that I hope might be relevant to others regardless of geography.


A SOCIAL GLUE
Greater Manchester: a Creative Health City Region

On the 12th May a piece of work I’ve been working on for some time - for Great Place in the Greater Manchester Combined Authority - will be published.  A Social Glue is a snapshot in time of this fast-growing field of culture, health and wellbeing and its place in Greater Manchester’s ongoing cultural evolution.  

The narrative of A Social Glue offers a platform from which to spearhead a change in the cultural agenda, from one where arts and health is focused on ill health and deficit, to one where human creativity is seen as a liberating social asset and a means to effecting individual and communal change. It warns too, of the dangers of the arts being seen as a blunt instrumental tool, acknowledging the nuance and complexity that creativity opens up.

The last decade has seen a flowering of work in this field - a rich and messy ecology - and A Social Glue explores some key areas of development around the arts, mental health and wellbeing across the city-region and potentially different ways of delivering the Social Prescribing agenda that are able to flex to the subtle divergences of neighbourhoods, communities and local human and physical resources.

Greater Manchester certainly has the spirit and drive to make this happen, building on its rich arts and heath lineage, and the time has never felt more appropriate to connect the strands of health with social and civic life, reimagining Greater Manchester as a Creative Health City Region.

Creativity has the potential to inspire more connected, critical and active citizens, where the arts in all their forms help us make sense of the world and drive change forward, in the cultural sector as elsewhere.  At the very heart of this narrative, we place high value on participatory and socially engaged artists and practitioners, as we do on the people at the centre of our communities and those citizens, activists and emerging change agents who will drive this reimagining of our city-region into reality.  Given the stresses of the pandemic, our attention should rightly focus on the factors that influence everyone’s health, where culture and creativity enable communities and citizens to consider themselves participants in a common venture.

The report, which originally came in at an unwieldy 100,000 words has had its hefty form sculpted down to something more appropriate. Some of those deleted sections will form key threads for a work I'm preparing for a more personal keynote for the Culture, Health and Wellbeing International Conference. This combines issues around the environment, social justice and my own fragile body. Keep your eyes out for that. It'll be called: SEDATIVE or STIMULANT: Consume by 24:06:202. Find out more by clicking HERE. 

But back to the report.

Alongside
A Social Glue sits a complimentary series of parallel narratives of practice from across the city region. These case-studies were originally collected by Clare Devaney many moons ago, and I am grateful to her and all the individuals and groups who have contributed to A Social Glue. The full and summary report alongside the Parallel Narratives will be available on the Manchester Institute for Arts, Health & Social Change website following the publication on the 12th May. If you’d like to come along to the free launch event between 10:00am and 11:00am, just register by following clicking HERE.

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

An invitation to re-imagine the North West Arts and Health Network

So, the last blog I posted - and what effort it took - was taken down by google for violating their terms and conditions! It's the first time in 12 years - but hey not bad going. But I did try and contact google to ask them exactly how I'd violated them (I thought the violations were always the other way round). Alas - there aren't humans you can get in touch with about this - even the email they sent me couldn't be replied to. So it will remain a mystery, perhaps orchestrated by some brutish algorithm....

What's been deleted that are still of use, are two imminent conferences.

A Culture of Care: Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance national conference 21-23 April 2021. Click here for details.

INEQUALITY * POWER * SUSTAINABILITY - the Culture, Health & Wellbeing International Conference, 21st, 22nd and 23rd June 2021.
Click here for more details.​

I'd also mentioned the launch of The National Centre for Creative Health and you can read all about it by clicking here or watching the launch film below where your blogger makes a cameo appearance!


The North West Arts, Health & Social Change Network
I guess the biggest thing that I'm sad to have lost from the last blog, was a plea for those of us in the North West who really want to get together again (regardless of who you are) and reanimate what it is we might be as a regional network. Remember the days of yore, when loads of us all over the region worked together to create the Manifesto for Arts & Health and events like Chaos and Comfort where we opened our regional doors to national and international guests and all for free. So if you'd like to be part of a community that brigs the network together and makes it fit for purpose in our changed world, I'd love to hear from you and explore together, how we might thrive. Email and express your interest here: artshealthnorthwest@gmail.com And thanks so much to those of you who've been in touch already.


COLLECTIVE ENCOUNTERS - three new posts
Collective Encounters is a professional arts organisation specialising in theatre for social change through collaborative practice. We use theatre to engage those on the margins of society, telling untold stories and tackling the local, national and international concerns of our time. There are four main areas to our work:

Participatory projects: we work with young people, adults and older people offering sustained and long terms participatory programmes, using theatre to build confidence, develop skills and explore the issues and ideas which matter to them.

Productions and events: we mount exciting productions in non-traditional spaces that look to excite, entertain and stimulate debate.

Research: we research theatre for social change practice nationally and internationally with a view to spearheading best practice in the UK.

Training: we use training and capacity building initiatives to develop the capacity of the arts and non-arts sector to deliver high-quality participatory arts activities.

They have three new posts with a deadline for applications: 26th April 2021, 5pm. Full details are here.

Ahh - here's an old faux Sun cover I created for this blog back on ths day in 2013. Happy days.


Arts and Mental Health: Facing the Future
And finally for this mean little blog posting (for fear that they'll delete me again), I had the pleasure of speaking at the Arts and Mental Health: Facing the Future, a research symposium hosted by Norwich University of the Arts on Wednesday 10 March 2021. The university will be posting all speakers and Q&A etc very soon, but in the meantime I offer for your delectation, my meagre offering - a 25 minute son et lumi├Ęre that - the product of a fever dream, brought on by yet another seance - explores some of the political and social factors that impact on all our mental health through the legacy of Victorian and Edwardian attitudes. I do this alongside a personal narrative, thinking through the arts as a potentially liberating force to challenge poisonous politics and urging us to think less individualistically and more collectively. Click here to watch, or on the film still below. 


Goodbye for now dear humans.

Friday, 19 March 2021

 STOP PRESS

For the first time in over a decade, Google saw fit to delete my most recent blog posting - New Moves in Arts, Health & Social Change - for reasons that are not yet clear. I apologise if you've come to these pages hoping to check in on:

  1. The launch of the National Centre for Creative Health
  2. A Culture of Care: Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance National Conference
  3. INEQUALITY * POWER * SUSTAINABILITY - the Culture, Health & Wellbeing International Conference​
  4. Reimagining the North West Arts & Health Network
  5. Covid Life Book
  6. SOUNDS at the EDGES - and much, much more.​

I'll report back on this ASAP - when I find out how I have infringed any Google rules! But just how the hell do you actually contact a human being at Google?



Monday, 23 November 2020

vaudeville-inspired-free-market-pop-up-snake-oil

Might the Queen mention #BLM in her Christmas speech?
From my enforced isolation over this last year, I have been greedily eating up news from a range of sources, and not just the dominant horrors around covid. I’ve been particularly excited by the evolution of things that we can genuinely describe as social movements - and #BLM has consistently blown me away - not least at its illumination of historical injustices. However, as those statues have been tumbled, that call for deeper understanding and accountability of our pasts somehow seems to skirt around the monarchy - and I’m curious as to why that might be? Perhaps we’re not quite ready for the republic just yet, or people are too hooked on their glossy box sets of how the other half live! - the queen’s metal hat certainly offers escapism in a time of lockdown, but what of our
 sceptred isle’s relationship to colonialism, extremes of inequality and racism? Can you imagine if the Queen actually addressed this - and particularly the collective anger/joy and potential thrown up by an acknowledgment of #BLM in her Christmas Day address to the masses! Now that would be probably one of the most significant moments in my life.

I’m not holding my breath - just clinging on to a vague delusion. From support that Elizabeth I gave to Captain John Hawkins, who captured hundreds of people from Africa exchanging them for hides, ginger, and sugar in 1562, to the 21st century the misdemeanours of our sovereigns need taking into account, as human rights activist Peter Tatchell has said "Nothing is stopping them from making a general statement in support of racial equality and inclusion. Their failure to do that speaks volumes about their white privilege mentality." Their historical role in supporting the Black slave trade, or instances of racism from the royal family over the years, seem somehow to be blindly accepted.


As for that recently grey-washed ape* in the Whitehouse who refuses to accept he isn’t the sun-king after all, but just the pinnacle of some individualist, neo-liberal shopping cult that got out of hand - your new hair job does not make you a left bank intellectual. Gravitas is something you can never buy. Still, your last legal man standing, Rudy (fail-fail-Grecian-2000-fail) Giuliani - who’s not appeared in a Federal Court for 28 years - should perhaps go for the gravitas and dignity look too! (Though he did receive an honorary knighthood in 2002 from the Queen - but that’s another story) He ended up looking like another vaudeville-inspired-free-market-pop-up-snake-oil-salesman with his mascara smeared temples dribbling down his gelatinous head. Now - an image of the wonderful Dirk Bogarde as the love-sick, cholera infected Gustav von Aschenbach in Death in Venice, sprang straight to mind when I saw the photos of this Grecian legal mobster. Which would I prefer - the pestilence of Thomas Mann’s, 1912 sumptuous Venice, or Capitol Hill and the unfolding horror-farce of the last days of the apprentice? I can’t wait to see the play, the film, the poem that captures these unfolding days of the old norms, where monarchs and elected leaders are held to account. Give it a few years for it all to percolate through…

VOTIVE CARDS
A few times on this blog, I’ve shared the early work of the artist John Angus who alongside Alison Jones (now Clough) created some wonderful work in 1990/92 as “Celebratory Arts for Primary Health Care”.  Their health promoting collaboration explored lung health and heart health and the hand produced screen-prints were shown in many hospitals and health centres in the West Midlands and Gateshead. 
When I was working as an artist at the Royal Albert Hospital in Lancaster - a Victorian residential institution for adults with learning difficulties - we had a full set of these posters, and Angus and Clough remain something of key figures in this movement.

I was thrilled last week to read about an event over in Leeds, that’s not dissimilar to last year’s event in Manchester - Yardsticks & Dreamscapes: Beyond Measurements in Arts, Health & Social Change across Greater Manchester - seems like only yesterday! But in Leeds there’s an online event happening this Tuesday 24th and tickets are HERE. It’s simply called What is it about art & culture that can make a difference to our health? There are some great people involved and under the banner Beyond Measure is a part of a programme of digital engagement exploring research and evidence in culture and health, organised by the Cultural Institute in collaboration with the very exciting Centre for Cultural Value, and Leeds Arts Health and Wellbeing Network. Superb to see all this exciting work happening in Yorkshire.

Now - bringing me back to those posters - I had an email from 
Geraldine Montgomerie over in Leeds, after a copy of the book Critical Care that I’d written a few years ago. Full of the joys of spring, I threw it in the post and low and behold the very next day, I received a pack of outrageously beautiful Votive Cards, designed to stimulate conversations around health, by way of a thank you! But it’s I that should be doing the thanking! I should also extend my thanks to the artist, not just the giver. Garry Barker draws narratives about the fact he finds the world he lives in a very strange place. He is also getting older and worries a lot about what it is he does. Superb. Click HERE to go to his website. I like this work so much because the cards don’t lay down the rules about how you might use them, they don't shy away from potentially difficult conversations - they stimulate exploration and encourage play, and they are bloody beautiful. 

CONTINUING THOUGHTS ON SOCIAL PRESCRIBING
You have to credit psychobiology/epidemiologist Dr Daisy Fancourt with her very high-profile advocacy for the arts and health agenda. She’s become a strong presence in the research field (much to the chagrin of some mudslinging, great pale apes* - a threatened old guard perhaps?). She had an outing on BBC News Night last week, but alas, I can’t find a link, but here’s something from April 2018 where she extols the potential of Social Prescribing. It’s on Facebook and has had lots of views - and there are some genuinely interesting comments, not just the usual ones in the echo-chamber, but people with constructive crit, who may be open to thinking differently. Although she and I may appear miles apart in our thinking, it's aways thought provoking stuff from Daisy F and delivered with clarity, and you can link to her aspirations around social prescribing by clicking on the image below.


That said - the Social Prescribing agenda is on the ascendance - but will require some serious consideration around the recruitment of this apparent army of link workers, and there are huge issues around what’s on offer to people; what’s the capacity of the local artists and 
cultural providers; how resistant might people be to having culture thrown at them and how the hell is any service of quality going to be funded in a time of even more pernicious period of austerity than we’ve ever known? It's important for anyone reading this to know I am not opposed to Social Prescribing and can see all the benefits - but alas, we also need to look closely at the pitfalls, and make sure this work is carefully thought through and funded adequately.

In my presentation to the delegates of a conference on Social Prescribing at the Whitworth - which sadly Daisy didn't make it to - my provocation A Delicate Ecology (see film link below) amongst other things, explored what 
the Secretary of State for Health & Social Care described as a free social cure. So let’s remind ourselves here: that’s free and it’s a cure. He may well claim to be opposed to big pharma - but I have some doubt as to that - and let’s not forget, it’s the ‘BIG” in pharma that’s the problem, not necessarily the medications that help us through physical and psychological health crises. Herein lies treacherous thinking and dangerous territory on Matt Hancock’s part. Yes, by all means recruit locally savvy link workers - but recruit artists, poets, musicians, dancers, actors - skilled and experienced community creatives (or whatever we might describe these people as) and pay them well, care for their health and respect them - and whatever you do, don’t force the hands of over-stretched medics to be more than they are. Invest in this new health and social care landscape, but don’t offer free cures, because they don't exist and mortality always has a 100% success rate.

But I have an another equally serious itch about rolling out social prescribing - that is planned I hope, with good intent - culture in all its guises isn’t just about making people stupefied, passive and compliant with the status quo - it’s not just about that misunderstood blanket term ‘resilience’. On the contrary, inequalities, poverty, racism and all the divisions that these factors (and many more) contribute to, means that we shouldn’t be doled out soporifics, so we all comply like good little citizens, nudged into a state of blind acceptance of state sanctioned cures. What we know is that the arts can do the polar opposite of this - they galvanise and they divide, they provoke emotions that are off the scale and they have the potential to help us evolve in the most outrageous and wonderful ways. Above all they help us shape our ideas about the world and our place in it and I for one am continuing to learn from #BLM, #ExtinctionRebellion and #MeToo. 

(footnote #11 - ok, it's been a while)
Well the lodger took a holiday over the summer months. I didn’t hear them go out, but then I didn’t hear them sneak back in either. So, to cope with this sneaky and may I say destructive and incredibly boring behaviour, I’m obliged to control the situation with the help of pills and potions - yes, yes, yes, the very same ones that make people millions.

While I have nothing but admiration for all those working in the hospitals that help me with a temporary restraining order on this unwanted guest, I am frustrated to be one of the thousands of people that is slowly becoming a casualty of our ineffectual and shambolic government. Though apparently No 10 seems to be suggesting everything’s back to normal with the NHS! If indeed the lodger takes over completely, in my absence I do hope someone will erect a gibbet on Downing Street or Parliament Square and hold that creature to account. The final part of my ‘treatment’ (oh that it were a treat) is stem-cell transplantation and has been variously, ‘cancelled’, ‘delayed’ and ‘postponed’. If it does indeed happen in January/Feb, (oh so vague for an event so monumental) the eviction will be have been seven months late. 

Former regional director of public health for the South West, Professor Gabriel Scally who is also a key member of @independentSAGE (not the gov’t SAGE group) has some of the most prescient thoughts on the government’s feel-good rush to make Christmas as normal as ever. This week he has spoken on a number of platforms to say with sobering lucidity: ‘There is no point having a merry Christmas then burying friends and family in January.’ @GabrielScally

A lot can happen to body and mind in a short period - seven months alas - is not so short to a mean spirited lodger. That said - I plough on and am still inspired by things outside the dwelling and chomp at the bit to gallivant in the countryside, so much so in fact, that earlier in the year I succumbed to the joys of Instagram in a personal capacity, but which is nevertheless impossible to separate from my work/passion. Kim Kardashian I am not - it's just a gentle exploration of just being in the world and interested in everything. I’m learning. 
You can find my benign and flimsy contribution here - @clivebparkinson 

*Genuine apologies to apes. I do appreciate they are of a more sensitive, peaceable and communal nature  than these repugnant barbarians that I am reverse anthropomorphising!

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 St├ęphane 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.

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID

 ...well at least it got your attention! More of that further down the page, but it does involve two new jobs, so do keep on reading. First things first.




Exposed: Special procurement channels for ‘VIPs’ and Cabinet contacts
Here's an extraordinary exposure of dodgy dealings in a time of covid by the Good Law Project, who I'd never heard of but who've been flagged up by flagged up by NS to whom my thanks. Here's an extract:

'Leaked documents seen by Good Law Project set out special pathways by which “VIP” and “Cabinet Office” contacts could be awarded lucrative PPE contracts at the height of the pandemic – and at inflated prices.

Lord Bethell, a junior Health Minister, promised that “suppliers will be evaluated by Departmental officials on their financial standing.” But questions arose over how enormous contracts came to be awarded to dormant or new entities and those of dubious financial standing including:

  • PPE Medpro won two contracts worth over £200m to supply PPE to the NHS. The £100 company, set up by the former business associate of Conservative peer Baroness Mone, won the contract just seven weeks after it was set up.

  • SG Recruitment UK Limited, a staffing agency, won two PPE contracts worth over £50m, despite auditors raising concerns about its solvency. Tory Peer Lord Chadlington sits on the Board of its parent company, Sumner Group Holdings Limited.

  • P14 Medical Limited, controlled by former Conservative Councillor Steve Dechan, who stood down in August this year, was awarded three contracts worth over £276m despite having negative £485,000 in net assets.'

if you are rightly outraged, click HERE to read the full article. 

20 SECOND HAND WASH

Twenty Second Hand Wash
Loop from the Hiroshi Teshigahara film: The Face of Another - 1966.
Sound, Ryoji Ikeda -1111011111 from the album, matrix - 2001

Who Cares, We Care -
Oh yes we do!

The virtual North West Arts and Health event on the 16th November, in collaboration with the Culture Health & Wellbeing Alliance, is all about care this year - who cares for artists - who cares for health workers - and how do we care for each other? 

Banksy
While we hear plenty of politicians spouting on about care - what do they really mean, and what's the action they take. From Trump to Johnson and most politicians in between go about modelling abusive behaviour as their bread and butter - what hope is there? We hope - lots. So sign up HERE and join members of this arts and health community alongside poet Jhilmil Breckenridge,  visual artist and LENS NW Champion Sue Flowers, LPM Dance (George Adams and Helen Gould), digital artist Shanali Perera, Clive Parkinson, Dancer Susie Tate, founder of In Place of War, James Thompson and Director of Manchester Museum, Esme Ward. So, lots to discuss and let's get some conversation flowing.

Branching Out by Ruth Flanagan

The Alliance website is crammed with interesting and very useful things at  the moment, so I urge you to check it out HERE. This month it includes a call-out to recruit for Directors! to join The Lived Experience Network (The LENs) of the Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance - click HERE for details.


Report on a conversation: Evaluating remote or online creative activities during the pandemic
Dr Karen Gray and Jane Willis provide us with some new food for thought.
'Changes in approaches to evaluating creative activities for arts, health and wellbeing delivered remotely or online during COVID-19 have been prompted by increased flexibility from funders and the continuing desire to find appropriate, accessible and sustainable ways to access participant experience. Creative practice has shown itself capable of adapting at speed in response to Covid-19. In this context, evaluators and arts organisations and practitioners are also asking: “How do we use existing forms of evaluation without being limited by them?” They are reflecting on how participatory and creative approaches to evaluation might support its integration into project delivery, make participants feel more like people and less like data, and enable access to participant voices, authentic stories and experience.' Want to know more? - click HERE. 

One for Sorrow...
...Two for Joy. I wonder how many of you are old enough to remember the 1970's children's programme Magpie? Well, that little tune and nursery rhyme that it stemmed from were one of the influences on Vic McEwan and I when we began planning an event two years ago in 
Wagga Wagga, Wiradjuri Country. Well, time has played some strange tricks on us, and the event which originally planned to run for three days in a theatre in the city and explore the troubling area of suicide has inevitably been impacted on by covid and my own inconvenient health problems. Anything remotely performative in a theatre became untenable, as did any travel for me. But Vic has been working towards a collaborative performative event with a socially-distanced audience. Under the header One for Sorrow, Two for Joy commissioned for Art State 2020 he'll be sharing new work that includes a community choir, a narrative contribution by a wonderful community elder and a small sound/film piece by me that touches on walking and thinking over the last year and some reflections on what it is to be alive, here and now.  

Image: Melanie Manchot, Twelve (The Bronson Monologue), 2015, courtesy the artist and Parafin, London

KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID
Earlier this year Portraits of Recovery (PORe) secured two years organisation development funding from Arts Council England’s Elevate scheme. PORe is now seeking to appoint a Business Development Support Administrator and Digital Marketing Coordinator for K.I.S.S (keep it simple stupid). If you want to have more details, or apply for either post which has a closing date of 5pm 22nd November, click HERE.

WHISPER TO ME ALONE
Always experimental, always relevant - a new work developed by arthur+martha - Whisper to me alone - is unfolding over twitter right now - pandemic epic by people who've been homeless or vulnerable. The CV-19 story is told in poems, songs & artworks, composed over the phone. @whisper2mealone

. . .