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Maurice is a retired progamme (or ‘program’ in the vernacular) development specialist who blogs really well written, insightful pieces from his home in Newfoundland, Canada. When we talk of culture we usually mean the arts, and forget sometimes that culture is also a word that describes the way we live which is why you will sometimes find us re-blogging some of Maurice’s wonderful posts here on ‘cultureactiveuk’.

 

Here in the UK our chancellor of the exchequer, George Osbourne (now also known as Geoffrey, following a slip of the tongue by US President Barack Obama which has greatly tickled the funny bone of UK society) has announced his 2013 comprehensive spending review (CSR) 11.6 billion pounds worth of yet more funding cuts did little to warm the cockles of the nations heart. The cut of 7% to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, felt like a joyless, gloomy picture painted by a lacklustre artist whose eye was tainted by myopia.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-23060049

Meanwhile the passionate, the cultured, the creative and the positive all fight on to preserve the treasures of the UK that make our nation great. These treasures are reflected both in and by, our art, our heritage and our creative industries that globally touch the lives of people around the world; whether it be through film, theatre, history, our gaming industry or our music, or even our eccentric propensity to take something absurd or quirky and make something of it. Culture is barrier breaking. Even for people who think their lives are not touched by it, it is there in their psyche. Perhaps because it is so intrinsic in our lives we underestimate its worth to ourselves, individually and as communities. But as culture and the arts come under fire; an easy target for cutting corners and saving money across the world, some interesting discussions have been had. We are not alone, on twitter the likes of @catalanmuseums and @simonbrault (président de Culture Montréal) to name but two,  have joined the debate showing that universally ‘culture matters’.

At the beginning of the year, writer and presenter Melvyn Braggs explored the history of the idea of culture and its value today on Radio 4   http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01pmg02 .  Sameer Rahmin, assistant books Editor at the Telegraph offers his insight here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/9772655/Melvyn-Bragg-and-the-value-of-culture.html and you might also enjoy an academic response here from Jeremy Gilbert  http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/jeremy-gilbert/value-of-culture-reluctant-tribute-to-bbc   But perhaps no-one in government listens to Radio 4 or if they do, their ears, minds and hearts are closed to the truth.  It seems that in their dogged determination to save the nation from economic disaster they drag their trail blazing battle wagons over the gardens of the nation that nurture and grow all our cultural talent and heritage, and fail to look back and see the irreparable damage done.

A debate was held this week in the House of Commons http://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2013/june/opposition-debate-on-the-arts-and-creative-industries/  led by Harriet Harman shadow secretary of state for Culture, Media and Sport, and responded to by Culture Secretary, Maria Miller on behalf of the Government.  http://storify.com/Artsmonkey1/the-arts-and-culture-debate-artsdebate.  It followed an early day motion launched by Dame Joan Ruddock on the importance of the arts and creative industries. It demonstrated that there is still much work to be done to enable those in power to articulate the importance of culture in terms of value.

Next week Dan Jarvis MP hosts a debate in Bristol on the future of Britain’s Arts & Culture Policy  https://cultureactiveuk.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/one-nation-labour-arts-event/

If you haven’t read enough articles by following all the links above you could do worse than read these three:

one:  a paper on the Value of Culture (on the relationship between economics and arts)  edited by Arjo Klamer published by Amsterdam Press in 1996  (google *the value of culture, arjo* to discover a free download of the paper)

two:  a paper entitled The economics of Art and Culture produced by the Cambridge University Press and written by James Heilbrun and Charles M. Gray in 2001 http://catdir.loc.gov/catdir/samples/cam031/00059875.pdf

and finally a recent article by Susan Jones for the Guardian’s Professional Culture blog:  Funding Friction and the Future of Art  http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture-professionals-network/culture-professionals-blog/2013/jun/24/pay-artists-funding-friction-future

It would seem that for all the knowledge we possess the wheels of progress are slow to turn.

What Next 2013 Delegates gather

What Next 2013
Delegates gather

Afternoon guest speakers and provocateurs at #WhatNext2013

Afternoon guest speakers and provocateurs at #WhatNext2013

Emerging into the sunlight full of further debate and thoght

Emerging into the sunlight full of further debate and thought

WN2013_022

What Next ? began in the shadow of massive cuts to the arts and cultural organisations as the recession became a reality here in the UK. It was a gathering of people, who came together because they felt isolated and threatened by impending doom. They gave themselves an hour but it wasn’t enough and so it continued on – weekly meetings around London that shared the news,  sought to come up with ways to challenge the landslide of negativity and have a positive impact on the current governments divisive statements about all things arts and culture.  No-one took charge, it was a collaborative approach. What Next? is open to anyone who wants to champion the arts and culture, anyone who is involved in it and who wants to become a part of a whole.  It is a movement (although it is still struggling to recognize this) and hasn’t defined its objectives beyond its common purpose but it must be doing something right because it is drawing Arts Champions and senior public figures in to its meetings to debate and discuss how we remind ourselves, and those who have forgotten, and those who don’t understand just why the arts and culture are the lifeblood of the UK and just what the impact of mismanaging the cultural future of our children would be.

What Next 2013 held twenty meetings across London (although it is spreading across the UK as we speak). An open invitation was issued via social media platforms and there was a diverse crowd of people who responded to the call, 650 people came.  A small but broad group of people from a variety of cultural sectors and arts organisations and groups.  We came from all over the UK to come together, to find some common ground for some common actions that would have strength and impact alongside all our individual voices and individual actions.

What Next isn’t about re-hashing the arguments and it’s not about waving a magic wand or having the answers.  It is about cultural activism, forming a cohesive body, about bringing together as many of the disperate parts of the arts and cultural sector as want to be involved and finding some platforms from which to fight our corner.

Those who were at the event and those who managed to overcome the live streaming glitches, heard from a plethora of voices in the afternoon see here http://www.whatnextculture.co.uk   We heard from the young, the old, the experienced, the new and upcoming. Old adversaries and competitors stood in the same room and put their egos to one side in order to focus on this important task. We’re not just saving the Arts here – we’re saving the future of our country.  We have to help those blind to the consequences of their actions to understand that it’s NOT about which is more important – Save the NHS or save our Arts?   It’s about keeping the essence of what makes our country good and not allowing it to be destroyed, it’s about balance and vision and purpose.

My grandfather could draw, but he went down the mine and worked in a steel factory to help his older brother feed the family rather than going to college, two things fed his soul: football and art. Although he never formally recognised the latter, it was in every letter he penned and every drawing he made and he instilled that love in his children, they made costumes, put together plays, learnt to play the piano and they sang, he filled his family life with as much colour as his own childhood had lacked. He fought for that. I fight for it also because I see it slipping away under a tide of short-sighted, weak-willed governance.

see my storify of tweets and comments on the day and on reflection of the day here: http://www.storify.com/Artsmonkey1/what-next-2013

and some action stirring already in response to arts Champion Sam Wests (@exitthelemming) gauntlet that he threw down to those assembled :  http://storify.com/Artsmonkey1/what-next-2013-the-debate-continues-actions-stir

Collection of pictures from the day here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/artsmonkey/sets/72157633372904389/

Resources from the day here:

http://www.whatnextculture.co.uk/resources/

Response here on the Arts Pro blog http://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/blog/juliet-brain/togetherness

Kwong Lee’s response here on the A-N Artists site http://new.a-n.co.uk/news/single/conference-report-what-next-a-movement-in-the-making/1

http://camilayelarte.blogspot.com.es/2013/03/alegaciones-desplazadas-nuria-guell-en.html
A lovely piece from the Camila and Art blog *Camila y el Arte* about The art of Núria Güell and her current exhibition ‘Arguments Displaced’ at the DNA Gallery in Barcelona. Nuria through both her life and art investigates the contradictions of the system, reaching out to disengaged passive spectators, she is committed to issues that cause outrage, taking the action to its final consequences.

Let’s go out on a bit of a limb here, it’s a new year and many of us are thinking about how to make the most of it, how to change or make changes, enhance and improve our working lives, our places of work or approaches to work…

So today, we bring you three posts two about museums and one about learning, all linked (see if you can spot the link) all thought provoking and worthy of some reflection

Start here with museum geeks post

My dangerous idea about museums 2013: the greatest threats to museums come from within

then pop over here to @MarDixons post

Random Thoughts for Museums and Visitors

and then settle here for a while, with teacher Maurice Barry’s

Changing Direction

Here’s my dangerous idea: our museums are, our greatest repository’s of our culture and our cultural journeys,  every school should spend at least 25% of their year teaching from within museums and galleries – hands on and direct and in partnership with museum staff – not just an annual day trip but say, a whole week or two! taking over the museum. Oh I can see the museum fraternity shuddering as I type but we have plenty of museums to facilitate this;  just imagine your classroom underneath a dinosaur skeleton, or amongst a room full of historical clothes,  or surrounded by egyptian carvings and paraphenalia – learning, seeing, exploring. If you’re going to dream, dream big.

London and Singapore based Artist Nicola Anthony sets out her case for culture (click on link below to see article in Nicola’s Blog)

A Case For Culture – England loses 30% of its arts council budget #CaseForCulture.

The key element across all the ‘Arts’ spectrum is ‘creativity’. By celebrating, valuing and maintaining prominent use of the Arts, as individuals, communities and societies we are allowing our cultures to develop and grow, to blossom. Sound too poetic? Why is creativity so important then?

Here are some answers from academics and business gurus acround the world:

Michael S. Brockman, University of California, Davis  and Stephen T. Russell, Ph.D., University of Arizona summarize the importance of creativity and their project Building Partnerships for Youth here:

http://cals-cf.calsnet.arizona.edu/fcs/bpy/content.cfm?content=creativity

Sir Ken Robinson

Creativity: It’s been maligned, neglected, and misunderstood… Here, creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson makes the case for creativity as the crucial 21st century skill we’ll need to solve today’s pressing problems. Sir Ken led the British government’s 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education and was knighted in 2003 for his achievements. His book, The Element (Viking Adult, 2009), looks at human creativity and education. He is also the author of Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative (Capstone Publishing Limited, 2001). In the UK Ken articulated what many artists and creatives had been trying to express about why the Arts was so important, he’s a regular at arts and cultural conferences because what he says makes absolute sense to so many people. I like this particular interview with Amy M. Azzam here: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept09/vol67/num01/Why-Creativity-Now%C2%A2-A-Conversation-with-Sir-Ken-Robinson.aspx

Why is Creativity more important than Capitalism? by Haydn Shaughnessy

When I first came across this via twitter I laughed and expected this to be an academic paper, over alliterated with anocronyms and given a sexy title just to make sure people at least read the first paragraph but Haydn is a contributor to Forbes Magazine and started his writing career in broadcasting and then got involved in the EU’s attempt to create an ARPA-type unit, managing downstream satellite application pilots, at just the time commercial satellite services entered the market (I cant pretend to know what an ARPA unit is). He also wrote policy, pre the Web, on broadband applications, 3G (before it was invented), and Wired Cities. Haydn has written for the Wall St Journal, Times, HBR, and GigaOm, as well as producing TV for the BBC, Channel 4 and RTE. has written a paper on the Evolution of The Innovation Landscape and is a research fellow at the Center For Digital Transformation at UC Irvine.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/haydnshaughnessy/2012/02/20/why-is-creativity-more-important-than-capitalism/

In Asia Doug Pierce thinks the world needs to embrace creativity so the robots can get on with it:  http://www.dougunplugged.com/2012/03/03/why-is-creativity-important-in-todays-world/

and last but by no means least here’s a little thought from TED fellow Francisco Garcia:

The first question I am going to ask you:
What are you wearing?
Creativity is a discipline on it’s own. Like any other discipline it requires work.
To begin with “There are no rules.”
That’s the beauty of it. Creativity is Imagination, & with Imagination comes work. The true gold behind it is that it breaks down all walls, & dissolves fear. To be A Creative your first, & foremost important rule is “There is no errors. Only learning.”I am going to give you an example of the intended idea of what it means to be creative through two disciplines.
Writing & Music.
In writing we build words through the use of letters. In music we build chords through notes.

“Blocks that form a whole.”

We learn these basics in school. Now this is where Creativity kicks in. What does it mean to be Creative? Being Creative means bringing A Unique Perspective. “Individuality.” So let me transpose my creative imagination in between these two disciplines.
The word “Creative.”
Creative.
CREATivE.
Notice how I bring life, & emphasis into the word Creative by simply highlighting CREATE in Creative. Thus adding color to my wording. It’s important to know that no rules were broken simply bent. Now we transpose this CREATivE Theory to Music.
On A Guitar whether you’re playing a C chord, A Chord, or Em Chord. Notice all the single notes make up that particular chord. The Colors of each single note producing the overall Sound. Now I ask you to use your imagination of what I just showed you in my example in the word CREATivE.
Apply that to the chords, & you get what we know as Creativity.
Now do you see what I see?
Do you know realize why Art is Powerful?
& why Imagination, & Creativity will Reign.
So the next time you see Clouds.
I say “Let your Imagination Run Wild!”

An article by journalist Tom Jacobs for the Pacific Standard magazine on a new NEA-funded study by Kelly LeRoux of the University of Illinois at Chicago on the link between exposure to the arts and civic-minded behaviours and attitudes.

http://www.psmag.com/culture-society/need-help-try-a-lover-of-the-arts-49123/

A reasoned article by Robert Hewison on why in an age of austerity we must neither neglect nor ignore the Arts

http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/In-an-era-of-austerity-reasons-to-fund-the-arts/21121

(click on the above link to open article in new window)

via The Art Newspaper

‘Disvalue’? An Illichian Case For A Cultural Value Discourse by Simon Ravenscroft.

A more academic perspective (click on the title above to see the original post) via @culturalvalue1 and http://www.culturalvalueinitiative.org

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