(Scots Law) A common; a piece of land in which two or more persons have a common right.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Stand against the Fear

I have heard two similar stories in the last week that have made me re-assess just what a massive cultural shift we are perhaps entering now. 
The first was told to me by a council official in northern England - about how a local councillor had turned down the offer of a (fully funded from grants) arts project for the village he represented on the grounds that he did not want to deal with potential criticism locally of money being 'wasted on art' when key services were being cut back.
The second was closer to home - a local council making a decision not to have any kind of public launch for an art project they had commissioned and completed....again because they feared a backlash in the press against their enlightened act of investing in culture.
(Perhaps the folk involved in the local story should take an example of the rewards gained by the bravery of Stranraer in this respect - they seem to gave got the town behind investing in quality and culture...even now - see recent press coverage here)

It looks like we ALL have a job to do here as advocates for the arts - we are obviously not living in a cultural climate that affords us the luxury of criticising the merits of this or that project, gig, poem etc.......there is an urgent job to do of supporting the principle of creativity and cultural production in ALL its forms. 
When talking to anyone on the bus, in a shop, on the street, I believe that we all need to stand against this new-phillistinism that threatens our culture with the weapon of fear, and never be guilty of lazily going with the flow on this.


  1. First I'd like to say Stranraer Looks fantastic! Nice landscape artwork lovely balance between the formal and irregular..... yum.

    I also think we have to carry the banner apart from anything else unless we celebrate inform and discuss people feel more alienated than ever by public art. While discussing a recent project with the public about 90% of the people who had difficulty with the work were happy and engaged once they understood what we were trying to achieve. Five mins is all it takes and the powers that be are causing more descent by hoping it goes away unnoticed than if they just spent a few mins explaining it. Perhaps now is the time for a facebook flash mob after all if it can topple states it might make a point?

  2. Oops someone else had signed in on my computer the above is me

  3. A demonstration of 'confidence in the arts' simultaneously across the region would be quite a thing! Totally take your point about the effect of a little information - important to stress that we are talking about all different forms of the arts here - music, literature, performance etc.

    100% agree with you that the 'pretending there is nothing to see' stance is ultimately counterproductive.....I'm sure that showing people you have the courage of your convictions is the only way to go. Somehow we need to get behind a 'D+G - loud and proud campaign' err, maybe..

    (BTW - had a lovely chat with the folk in the fishing shop about 'Myndin the Fuird'...big fans of yours)

  4. I knew we were facing problems with continuing funding and in my sector, in sales of 'non-essential' goods but hadn't foreseen this negative approach of celebrating what we have already achieved or turning down good opportunities in fear of the general public. How very shortsighted and cowardly. Education is always the way forward but can see future arts projects coming with a 'health warning' public money was wasted on this project!

  5. While agreeing that artists have a resopnsibility to act as advocates in supporting 'the principle of creativity and cultural production in all its forms,this 'massive cultural shift' is not such a new thing.'Fear'of anything new or even the slightest bit challenging, has been everpresent. Artists are in such a position to affect change and question society/government and to speak out.We are fortunate to have some freedom of voice where we can engage with the public and break some barriers down and challenge what is really their own fear.....and how fortunate we are,as this is harder still in some cultures.