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Mea culpa, mea culpa! I thought back in September 2014 that our work may well be done and with the emergence of new agencies keen to promote culture and the UK Arts, and older more restrained agencies beginning to celebrate in a more voiciferous and enthusiastic manner it seemed we could simply slink away having got a bit of a ‘thing’ going. Now, it’s just me without the help of friends and twitter strangers in the creative UK stratosphere but it seems it’s not quite time to become “culturally in-active’ just yet. For instance my local Arts Centre; Salisbury Arts Centre, which has been going since the late seventies has just lost all its funding from the local authority.  As a society we still haven’t learnt that culture; the arts and crafts that communities create, invite, participate in and revere – should not be sidelined. It’s a balance and the arts should remain at the heart of public space, education and enlightenment.

The @cultureactive twitter account has linked us to artists, cultural organisations and agencies from around the world – we all celebrate the same thing our culture, our art.

Here in the UK we are about to see in a general election. The past five years have been about restraint, constraint, cuts, cuts and more cuts. It has been labelled as a time of austerity and as usual the arts have proved an easy target for budget cuts.

Kicking us off in 2010 came the pamphlet Arts Funding, Austerity and The Big Society, re-making the case for the arts by John Knell and Matthew Taylor

“Arts, Austerity and The Big Society”

In 2011 LSE (The London School of Economics and Political Science) warned :

The arts and cultural sector faces ‘apocalyptic’ cuts in austere Britain. But new ways of looking at economic value can help to make the case for culture

By 2012 The Guardian newspaper was asking

What can the arts offer in an age of austerity?

in April 2013 ex-Culture Secretary Maria Miller put forward her contention that the arts must make their case for public funding by focusing on its economic value not its artistic value

By May 2013 The FT (Financial Times newspaper) carried this article:

The value of arts in a time of austerity

It is time to find imaginative ways to boost cultural groups’ revenues, writes Peter Bazalgette…

and the old debate about the value of culture: the creative industry was once again a hot potato.

In 2013 Fin Kennedy launched ‘In Battalions‘ a rolling stone of an argument that gathered plenty of moss, created a stir and later resulted in a Delphi Study produced in 2014

Also in 2013 and far more broadly, The University of Warwick weighed in to the ring with the Warwick Commission

The Commission fully engaged with the more powerful concept of ‘culture’ as opposed to the arts (which can so often become compartmentalised into specific areas) and amassed some useful resources on cultural value which are worth perusing and culminated last month in a final report:

Enriching Britain, Culture, creativity and growth

which you can download here

In terms of the looming election there’s still time to shout it from the rooftops. Email In Battalions to your MP along with The Warwick Commission’s report – ask them to read it, tell them why it’s important to you.

Whether your personal mantra be “Culture, Leisure, Countryside” or “Family, Film, Creativity” or perhaps “Healthy, Happy and Community” if you unpick what is important to you culture will be there at it’s beating heart, often invisible because it’s sewn in to the fabric of our daily lives, it’s like the air we breathe.


It is amazing how much great social art grows out of confilict

The Jolly Good News

53ee005ff630991e04d93abdSarajevo’s film festival, founded as an act of defiance while the city was besieged during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, marks its 20th anniversary on Friday with its biggest line-up of movies.

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A few thoughts on politics, and why we should use it not lose it from CRPE – culturally speaking we need to be more politically savvy in the UK….

CPRE viewpoint

Last week’s elections were a triumph of anti-politics. In the European election, only a third of the UK electorate bothered to vote and a quarter of those who did supported UKIP, a party whose appeal rests partly on its being ‘none of the above’.   

Of course, European elections in Britain have always had a poor turnout. In the week of the 1999 election, when I stood, more people voted in the final of a TV talent show, Stars in their Eyes (and yes, that hurt). But the anti-political mood has grown since then and people are increasingly impatient of political argument and hostile to politicians.   

So this seems a good time to recall why politics should not be a dirty word. The case is made well by Matthew Flinders in Defending Politics: why democracy matters in the twenty-first century, an updating of Bernard Crick’s great In Defence of…

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Just discovered Artlark – poetically informative blog, you might like it too perchance?


51BHjBD01tLOn the 9th of May 1968, American cartoonist Harold Gray died in La Jolla, California. His death marked the end of a very prolific career, but the fame of his newspaper comic strip, Little Orphan Annie, outlived him for a very long time. The story of an innocent vagabond girl wandering through a world of misery and corruption was remarkable for many reasons but most of all for the fact that it was the first ever comic strip that employed serious political philosophy. “Such expression was unusual because… syndicates did not wish to involve themselves in politics – their newspapers represented various political persuasions.” (Moira Davison Reynolds, Comic Strip Artists in American Newspapers, 1945-1980). And with the growing popularity of comic strips in America, it became more evident that they had become an important tool in shaping public opinion; as noted by Reitberger and Fuchs: “Comics, together with…

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@fatblackcat writes about all sorts of crafty and cultural adventures in her delightful blog. this post mentioning the term ‘Lo-Fi’ reminded me that culture is as complex as you make it and for many of us it is a simple, easy enjoyment.


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Edinburgh LO-fi organised a photo walk to take pinhole photographs on International World Pinhole Day. Unfortunately the light levels were really low. All these taken with a digital camera !

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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:

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:

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.

In Asia Doug Pierce thinks the world needs to embrace creativity so the robots can get on with it:

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.”
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!”

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