Welcome dear readers to our latest roundup of the madness that is culture, culture funding and the refusal of arts organisations to hand out giant plushy teddy bears to those that ask for them.
This Made Up England
We lead off this week with a thorough debunking by Arts Professional of an Arts Council England report titled "This England" (stop laughing at the back!) ACE claims that the report is some sort of analysis of how they spend all the money they have on the arts in England.
Arts Professional, in the guise of Liz Hill, begs to differ with a detailed mauling of the Funding Monolith's use of selective numbers to make their case. Few bother to actually read such reports but Ms Hill ploughs in, gets filthy and comes out, barely alive, on the other side.
"Next up on page 11 is a map showing investment in England's 'core cities', although what constitutes a 'core city' is something of a mystery. Included is little ol' Cambridge, with a population of around 134k, but bad luck Southampton (237k), Leicester (330k), Brighton (273k), Hull (256k) - the list goes on - you're not core, apparently. ACE believes its pretty map "shows how our investment is spread geographically if you compare spend per head by core cities, rather than by government region". But what baffles me is how this is meant to help anyone understand the efficacy of ACE's investment strategy"
If you actually wade into the mire yourself you will discover fantastic nuggets of selective thinking such as describing "Central London" as a "region" of London itself in order to make arts spending per head look more reasonable than it really is.
Ms Hill also points out that in measuring the amount money spent around the country lots of very large and very flashy organisations are excluded to make the numbers, once again, sound a lot better than they really are.
"But, setting aside the purpose of these figures for one moment, it's worth looking at the analysis behind the map showing National Portfolio investment in core cities and surrounding areas. In the small print we read that this excludes investment in most - but not all - of England's largest cultural organisations: English National Opera, Royal National Theatre, Royal Opera House, Southbank Centre, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Royal Shakespeare Company, Welsh National Opera, Opera North and Northern Ballet."
Just one reason among many as to why numbers are not a good way to assess the impact of the arts or a good way to get ACE to explain how it spends the money given to them by other people.
Wayne McGregor (the dance maker that gets a huge amount of money to run a dance company that never tours anywhere in the UK) has been made a Professor of Choreography at the Laban Centre in London reports Londondance.com (seriously, stop laughing at the back).
If you go to Laban and expect Mr McGregor to be teaching you anytime soon then that is probably not going to happen because this sounds an awful lot like a job in name only but you never know. One day you may be taught how to make the same piece of work, give it a different name and just keep on trucking like nothing ever happened.
"The connection between imagery and creativity in dance making has been a significant focus of our research partnership with Random," says Anthony Bowne. "Our recent co-hosting of an interdisciplinary seminar on imagery and creativity placed the artistic process in the spotlight and drew on approaches in clinical psychology, sports psychology, cognitive and neuroscience to interrogate the practice."
If you can make sense of the above paragraph then answers on a used PhD certificate to the usual address. As always we congratulate LD.com on it's ability to make press releases sound even more boring than they really are.
The Guardian reports today that some crazy old fool in Australia think arts organisations should be punished if they refuse to accept money coming from organisations with questionable business practices.
This would include companies that make products that kills millions of people every year (tobacco), companies that cause massive environmental damage (oil) and companies that sell products that cause huge damage to children's health (looking at you Coke).
"George Brandis has not ruled out penalising arts companies and festivals for refusing funding from a tobacco company under a new policy he has asked the Australia Council to create.
Arts organisations could be penalised with a reduction or refusal of federal funding if they reject sponsorship from corporate sponsors on "unreasonable" grounds under the policy being developed.
The arts minister has asked the Australia Council, which distributed commonwealth arts funding, to develop the policy after Biennale Sydney parted ways with Transfield Holdings and its chairman, Luca Belgiorno-Nettis, after artists objected to the company's links to Transfield Services, a contractor at Australia's Manus Island detention centre."
Arts organisations in Australia are, understandably enough, unwilling to take money from junk food companies to sponsor children's festivals etc so they have told Mr Brandis to bugger off, sort of.
Mr Brandis is almost certainly the kind of disconnected and completely stupid individual you imagine him to be. He is a politician after all. At the moment his idea is just a proposal but in these times of madness madness itself always seems to win.
The Week In Tweets
This week Dance Touring Partnerships refused to give us, here in TheLab™, a giant plushy teddy bear that we can jump around on because that's how we roll.
is it a giant plushy teddy bear @dancetp tell us it's a giant plushy teddy bear...— Article19 (@Article19) March 12, 2014
Turns out the prize was actually an iPad Mini. Who the hell wants one of those?
Have a nice weekend.