Sunday, May 5, 2013

...drowning by numbers

Short and sweet this week and straight on to business. Just a note that Ivan Wadeson, Co-Chief Executive of The Audience Agency, responded to Culture Secretary Maria Miller's speech last week in diplomatic style and pulling out some key comments that Ms Miller has made, particularly:

“The arts stimulate us, educate us, challenge and amuse us […] their social benefits are numerous and beyond doubt.”

“Culture is able to deliver things which few other sectors can. It brings our country to life and encourages people to visit our shores; it develops a sense of community and attracts visitors to disparate parts of our nation... it cultivates the creativity which underpins our wider industrial efforts.”

“The arts are not an add-on; they are fundamental to our success as a nation.”

You can read Ivan’s comments by clicking on the empty theatre seats.

Thanks to my friend Dr. R for his updates on all things BMJ and RSPH and for last weekends article about trumpet playing conservative MP, Jesse Norman. Once ostracised for his rebellious ways, he has been welcomed back to the heart of politics as a member of his party’s policy advisory board. It’s a curious article not least because Norman is one of the architects of the Big Society agenda and is a man who has a lot to say, including attacking crony capitalism. He is particularly keen that the government should do more to support the arts, suggesting that an interesting test will be met when we emerge from the financial crisis and there is money to spend which could possibly be ploughed into new ways of promoting social cohesion. My eyes were particularly drawn to a very pithy quote: “I don’t think anything important can be quantified - you can’t put a pound sign beside love and happiness.” I wonder perhaps, is the time right to be thinking about the ways in which our arts and public health agenda should be woven into a far more sophisticated policy framework?

I try not to advertise too many events that cost on this blog, but this years annual conference form The Reader is a 1/3 cheaper than last year! It has a great programme with some interesting speakers, of which Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Health Secretary, will be discussing ‘The Books that Built Me’ at the event taking place at the British Library on Thursday 16th May. Other speakers at the conference include Professor Louis Appleby, National Clinical Director for Offender Health and Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Advisory Group, who will be discussing ‘Finding A New Language for Mental Health’. Find out more by clicking on the plea to read me, above.

Last week saw the first teaser for my new paper, A Bird in a Gilded Cage - but what on earth was it about? The royal family - battery farms - synchronised swimming and wistful coach rides into the sunset? You bet - oh, that and the way we live and die today. Above is another version of that same little film with a few words thrown in for good measure. The paper will be on ixia’s website this month.

Hey, in the dead of night, do you ever wake up and wonder, what ever happened to Open Art? We do. To find out what the brilliant Deborah Munt and Leisa Gray and their colleagues did next, click on the love above for more.

For many years Dawn Prescott worked at Arts for Health where she ran a tight ship, and when she left for pastures new, it was LIME Arts that benefited from her superb skills and warmth. Now Dawn is holding her first exhibition at BLANKSPACE between 24 - 26 May. The exhibition farmgate is a work that explores the plight of the contemporary British dairy farmer. I’ll post more details of this exhibition next week, but pop it in your diary if you’re anywhere near Manchester later in the month.

Big Launches New Programme to Improve Lives of Older People
The Big Lottery Fund (BIG) has announced a new fund to improve the lives of vulnerable older people in England. The BIG hopes that the funding, provided through the Fulfilling Lives: Ageing Better programme, will reduce isolation, help older people deal better with change and build confidence for the future.  BIG are inviting 100 local authorities to submit an expression of interest to be considered for funding.  30 areas will be shortlisted.  The shortlisted areas will then be required to submit a full 'vision and strategy' for their area. At this stage each area will form a partnership led by a voluntary and community sector organisation.  BIG expect to make awards to 15 to 20 areas of between £2 and £6 million over three to six years.  Development funding of up to £20,000 will be available to those areas we shortlist. The closing date for submission of EOI forms is the 17th May 2013. Read more at:

Principal fires security guards to hire art teachers — and transforms elementary school
...and finally, a big thanks to Kait Wittig for sharing this story from the US.

Orchard Gardens School in Roxbury, Massachusetts was built in 2003 but was plagued by violence and disorder from the start and by 2010 it was rank in the bottom five of all public schools in the state. Enter Andrew Bott — the sixth principal in seven years — but with new ideas: “We got rid of the security guards,” said Bott, who reinvested all the money used for security infrastructure into the arts. Now, three years later, the school is almost unrecognisable. You can read more here, by clicking on the comforting image of school security above.

...thank you as ever...C.P.