Monday, April 23, 2012

WOMEN ARE HEROES, Art in the Public Realm and a Free Conference

Thank you for the responses to the ‘Olympic’ themed Richard Creme competition. I’m pleased to say that the winers will be notified by email this week, and disconcertingly, a certain Lord Coe won one (hmmm, be interesting to see if he turns up!) Next weeks blog will be a Richard Creme special to coincide with the opening of his show at MMU.
For those of you who have commented on FCnK a big thank you, and its interesting to note a few things that link into it from the popular press and the streets of Liverpool this week.

Zoe Williams in her ‘saturday sketch’ further expands on Olympic histrionics and in particular takes the bell theme further. Here’s a snippet of her conversation with Loughborough resident, John Stevens. "Have you heard about the Olympic bell?" he asks. Nope. "So there's a giant bell, and the (local) Taylor Bell Foundry put in a tender to make it. But instead they gave it to a firm in London, who subcontracted it to a firm in the Netherlands. Now," he finishes darkly, "we all call it the Dutch bell". Oh yes – moaning, in an anti-authoritarian, not entirely serious but not exactly joking, way – that's another thing we're really good at.

The streets of Liverpool have been filled with teary eyed spectators, watching the progress of the Royal de Luxe produced, Sea Odyssey. An Olympic sized extravaganza, but polarizing opinions. Lynn Gardner in the Guardian commenting that, ‘...the result is inclusive theatre where young and old rub shoulders with the giants. We walk together in their footsteps, and we walk taller because they are with us.’ Chris Bradley in the online Liverpool Click is more scathing, noting the huge expense of the performance, suggesting the event cost around £2 million, and focusing on the Little Girl Giant urinating! The horror and outrage at the urinating has produced some blisteringly funny responses and in both the Gardner and Bradley articles, it's worth scrolling through the readers comments to get a balance of views, including the role and place of the local arts communities, comparisons to Notting Hill Carnival (or not) and of course, relieving yourself in public. 

I can see the thrill in this kind of event. People being together, technical skill, pathos etc - but I do think Gardner is perhaps over egging it a little suggesting ‘we walk taller because they are with us’ - how so, and what’s the long term impact? I’d like to know if anyone has been undertaking any research on the impact of this kind of street theatre, and once the carnival is gone and the streets have been scrubbed up and the Little Girl Giant, her dog and her uncle and packed off to the next city, what’s the legacy? Each year the firework shows just get bigger and I for one, love them (I think its in our nature), but just how big and spectacular can all these events get, and don’t they leave us unable to be satisfied by smaller moments and greedy for increasingly larger helpings - moving towards a super-morbid cultural obesity? 

This BLOG has shared a number of street artists over the years in an attempt to show that the work of people like Banksy is a bit more than a superficial tag. Recently images of spray-painted walls in Afghanistan, Russia and now Bahrain have taken this potency much, much further. French artist JR takes a different perspective on participatory art, that he explains as simply, ‘Raising questions...’ That said, he did win the TED 11 prize and his work really resonates when thinking about art in the public realm. I’m mindful of comments made by Mike White on the publication of the Derek Wanless report to the Treasury in 2004: Securing Good Health for the Whole Population. Mike drew from this report and other work he’d been scrutinizing, that it is women's health and particularly women's education, that has the greatest impact on society. More than that - female literacy rates are the most significant indicator of mortality.

So, Women are Heroes is a book and a film by JR - but more than that, its an artist illuminating something of the world beyond the narrow confines of individual experience.

Here is an interesting quote from an article reviewing the book. When one onlooker in Monrovia didn't know what an art exhibition was, another person explained it thus: "You have been here for a moment looking at the portraits, asking questions, trying to understand. During that time, you haven't thought about what you will eat tomorrow. This is art."

Панк-молебен Богородица, 
Путина прогони PUSSY RIOT в храме 
Discerning readers may be picking up on how art in the public realm may have an impact that reachers wider than narrow sensationalism and potentially has political implications, that in turn, have clear implications on well-being. Since February three women from the punk-rock collective, Pussy Riot have been held in detention in Moscow, for performing a protest song against president elect Putin and what they see as the Russian Orthodox Church collaborating in politics. 13 more people were arrested over the weekend for demonstrating outside the Moscow courthouse, where the band members face up to seven years in jail.

“Five masked members of Pussy Riot performed a protest song entitled “Holy Shit” at the altar of the Christ the Savior Cathedral in downtown Moscow on February 21. The lyrics included lines such as “Holy Mother, Blessed Virgin, chase Putin out!”
Pussy Riot said the performance was a response to Orthodox Church head Patriarch Kirill’s backing of President-elect Vladimir Putin in the run-up to his landslide March 4 election victory. The patriarch called the 12 years of Putin's rule a "miracle of God" in a televised meeting. Putin’s press secretary said the president-elect reacted “negatively” when told of Pussy Riot’s protest.”

10 + 11 May 2012
Music in Healthcare Settings Seminar
Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester

RNCM Music for Health is pleased to invite people working in the cultural and health sectors to attend a FREE 2-day seminar about music in healthcare.

The seminar will
1. present the experience and learning from the EC funded ‘Music in Healthcare Settings: Training Trainers project’ (Leonardo Transfer of Innovation) at a local, national and European level;
2. highlight the importance of working in partnerships across the cultural and health sectors;
3. compare and discuss policy frameworks in the UK and France;
4. present case studies of musical interactions in healthcare settings and outline the training offered by RNCM, including the Medical Notes project funded by Youth Music;
5. present evaluation and research findings from the RNCM Music for Health programme.

The seminar is FREE, but booking is essential as places are limited.
To reserve your place for either one or both days, please fill in the booking form attached and return by email to no later than 1 May 2012.

For info on the project and seminars in our partner countries, go to

Women Make Music Opens for Applications (UK)

The Performing Right Society (PRS) has announced that its Women Make Music grant scheme is now open for applications.  The second year of Women Make Music comes after a successful pilot programme in 2011.  Through the programme, financial support of up to £5000 is available to women musicians; and new music in any genre is welcome, from classical, jazz and experimental, to urban, electronica and pop. 

The aims of Women Make Music are:
  • Break down assumptions and stereotypes within the music industry by encouraging role models for future generations
  • Raise awareness of the gender gap and to ensure that women are aware that support for new music is available to them
  • Increase the profile of women who are creating new music in the UK
  • Stimulate new collaborations between organisations and female music creators

There are two funding rounds in 2012 and the application deadlines are the 17th May 2012 and the 10th October 2012. For information visit: 
As ever, thanks for looking...C.P