We did get a reply yesterday from the grandly titled “Senior Manager, Compliance & Improvement” at the Arts Council, we were told to expect a reply by whoever rums the Arts Council Facebook page, we were told that someone was “preparing a response”, the ” “prepared response” came though a couple of hours later, his response mostly seem to contradict the information found on the dreadfully clunky Arts Council England website, he insists the Emergency Funding is available to everyone, it clearly isn’t (although they do seem to be dishing it out like confetti to all kinds of people who I rather suspect haven’t actually been affected that much in terms of their art practices and their public engagement). His main beef seem to be about a little bit of bad language, he’s right of course, it is a shame that we have to resort to Johnny Rotten tactics to get a response, nine years of not swearing at the Arts Council got me absolutely nowhere, a couple of cuss words seem to have at least got a response, a not very helpful response, no actual answers, lot of contradictions, quite a bit of spin, no actual answers t other questions posed in the previous blogs
So we’re going under, meanwhile the shut-door gallery that has no signs outside to tell anyone they exist, the one that’s never open, they’re sending out wordy press releases boasting about they now have enough funding to carry on writing wordy press releases from behind their locked door for another year. Besides their so called “private views” I haven’t managed to catch that place open for a couple of years now, I pass it nearly everyday. I asked my next door neighbour of four years yesterday, his response was “what gallery? Where?”
But the .Senior Manager, Compliance & Improvement says that he “genuinely hopes that you can see a place for you and your work in our strategy in the future” – Mate, to quote Mr Rotten again, there is no future, the clue is in the tittle, “Emergency fund”, this is an emergency! The Government funds trusted to you was to help those of us facing shut down, not to dish out yo your mates again. So no, we don’t see a future, we won’t be doing any of the things we did before, not in the future. there won’t be any future! We’ve been losing our artist-led spaces in East London for years, art was dying in East London before the virus struck, streets once rich in art and creativity and people engaging with it all, whole streets once alive with engagement have gone, spaces that locals can just walk in to just don’t exist now, well beside s the very conservative very commercial street art print selling businesses who like to call themselves galleries but really are nothing much more than glorified shops, the places that are only interesting in the things that will turn a quick profit. I did ask the Mr. Senior whatever at the Arts Council to give me a call, I even promised not to swear at him, I gave him my number, he hasn’t called, I don’t expect he will.
So no, Mr “Senior Manager, Compliance & Improvement”, even if by some miracle we do somehow survive all this and if we do eventually get to do more in terms of Cultivate in a physical sense and we do somehow get to work with more artists and open some more doors to welcome in (local) people and those from outside the art bubble again, no, I really don’t see any point in filling in any more of your damn forms, I really don’t see a place for me or my work in your “strategy” and yes, Art Council England do make me swear… . I’d really love you to have the guts to actually answer the question and tell me why what we’ve done for the last nine years continues to count for nothing with the Arts Council while the shut-door tight-arse scared-to-engage gallery who won’t even put a sign outside get your support again and again (and again), I;d love an answer to get a straight answer on that one Mr Senior Manager. “Let’s Create” you say, we have been doing,
Actually he did say “As a provider of public funds it is also appropriate for us to support the publicly funded sector as this is where our current investment lies. If we remove support and exclude those who have previously received public funds then we risk additional damage to the investment we have already made with public funds. If we extend availability even further then we increase the pool of applications, this reduces the success rate of oversubscribed programmes and creates operational pressure on our organisation that we would be unable to handle” – So yes, on with the pumping money in to the things that have already had money, the aloof shut-door spaces that never engage with the public, those who talk it rather than walk it, can’t have any one see them fail now, that is what he’s saying isn’t it? t does seem our biggest crime while running all all our publically engaging open-door art events has been our self-sufficiency up until this emergency, but then I’m pretty sure I heard Head man at Arts Council England, Chief Executive Darren Henley, I’m pretty sure I heard him say recently, on the BBC, that self- sufficiency should be an aim for everyone, or was it a priority, hey we were, against all odds, until Covid struck we were just about self-sufficient with our very engaging shows that the public do seem to enjoy, I’m pretty sure when the Government gave the Arts Council all that funding, that a little tiny bit of it was meant for things like properly engaging events like those Cultivate has constantly put on? But hey, no, they got to prop up the shut-door gallery up the road yet again..
So anyway, we still can’t pay the March rent bill, there’s very little realistic prospect of us coming back with physical art shows once the Lockdown has lifted, of course we will try, of course we will, of course we won’t give up, if we do it make it back it will almost certainly be about us artists having to do it all ourselves, the open-door gallery shows will not be supported or funded, some people have told us in the past that they assume they are funded, no, never have been, no, all about the artists involved in the shows coming together and making it happen again and again.
What next then? Well we’ve put on two on-line shows during the Lockdown, I guess we could do a third, people seem to like checking them out, one week on from the opening of (Far from the)Turmoil and we’re well past the 40,000 views mark already. not bad in just one week, let’s pull together another, let’s do it again, what shall we call it this time, “Let’s Create” maybe?
Oh and by the way, yer man from the Arts Council, without any prompting, brought up diversity, the tone kind of implied our show weren’t, have they actually checked out our line ups? Out artists? Or indeed sat and watched who actually comes in through our open doors to our shows? (sw)
Oh, while we’re here, let us just share this parish notice we posted on the Organ pages yesterday, although, thier banner might upset er man from thre Arts Council as well, sorry about that – ORGAN THING: There’s a Rebel Dykes History Project Launch Event coming up… A quick parish notice for today’s Organ Thing of The Day – We do like those Rebel Dykes, they feel like they come from the same place we originally came from, the punk rock flavoured DIY activist counter culture of another time and place, another century, when it really was a… read on