Tuesday, 5 October 2010

every crisis a consultant's opportunity

"Leading Scottish arts consultant Anne Bonnar called upon Scottish bodies to get more involved. 'Where is the backing of the industry bodies?' she asked. 'That is the problem. We don’t have a collective cultural forum or leadership'.”
Perhaps an opportune moment to remind the prime consultant in the formation of Creative Scotland, 'ideas have consequences':
"I’m here to discuss what happens in the messy real world when Milton Friedman’s ideas are put into practice, what happens to freedom, what happens to democracy, what happens to the size of government, what happens to the social structure, what happens to the relationship between politicians and big corporate players, because I think we do see patterns." http://www.democracynow.org/2008/10/6/naomi_klein
And on the alleged panacea of Cultural Leadership - the charismatic leader of management theory - see 'Artist as Executive, Executive as Artist' by Kirsten Forkert, Variant 35, Summer 2009:
"These initiatives formalise connections between management discourses and the arts, through a variety of professional development programmes set up to train arts management, and in some cases artists, in leadership skills. It is notable that all these initiatives propose professionalisation and skills training as a response to a perceived organisational crisis." http://www.variant.org.uk/35texts/CultLeader.html
UK campaign to protect the arts saddened by poor Scottish response
Edd McCracken, Arts Correspondent, 3 Oct 2010, Sunday Herald
The head of the main UK campaign to protect the arts from the worst of the upcoming spending cuts has described as “sad” the fact that Scottish organisations have declined to take part.
One leading arts consultant described the apparent Scottish ambivalence over the I Value The Arts campaign as “a problem that reveals a lack of cultural leadership” north of the border.
When it was launched last month, I Value The Arts became the main lobbying body for arts organisations, backed by UK-wide bodies such as the Association of British Orchestras, Equity, Theatres Trust, and the Musicians Union.
Scottish individuals have signed up in their thousands. Edinburgh has the highest sign-up out of any local authority, while overall Scotland has contributed the third most signatures.
Scottish artists have also got involved, including Glasgow’s David Shrigley, who produced an animated film about the value of culture for Save The Arts, an artist-led campaign running in tandem with I Value The Arts. More than 100 leading artists have pledged their support, including Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst.
But according to the National Campaign for the Arts, which co-ordinates I Value The Arts, Scottish arts bodies have been much less forthcoming.
“In terms of initial partners we didn’t have any Scottish organisations, which was rather sad for us,” said John Munro, campaign manager. “On the ground in Scotland the message is getting across better than it is in the rest of the UK, but what tends to happen in Scotland is there is a ‘can-do’ attitude amongst individual arts organisations. That’s great but it tends to hurt the general principle of doing things joined up.
“We are trying to convince everyone we can act together. That is why we would like more organisations in Scotland to get on board.”
Leading Scottish arts consultant Anne Bonnar called upon Scottish bodies to get more involved.
“Where is the backing of the industry bodies?” she asked. “That is the problem. We don’t have a collective cultural forum or leadership.”
The I Value The Arts campaign was established ahead of this month’s comprehensive spending review at Westminster, which is expected to implement cuts of 25% or more in funding to cultural bodies.
Culture, however, is a devolved matter for Scotland. The Scottish Government has said it will defer cuts for a year, until after next year’s Holyrood elections.
But I Value The Arts remained a “call to action” for Scotland, according to Bonnar. She added: “There is no reason why we can’t have common cause with the campaigns happening at the moment. We should support them.”
When approached for the reasons why they have not joined the I Value The Arts campaign, many Scottish organisations said they were organising themselves for a Scotland-specific campaign.
Jon Morgan, director of the Federation of Scottish Theatre, said: “We don’t want to put lots of time and resources into this particular campaign because we need to have a more articulate campaign that is relevant in Scotland. It’s not that we’re unsupportive, we just want to direct our attentions to the specific situation in Scotland.”
The Scottish Artists Union said the only reason it was not involved was one of timing. The SAU has been in the process of electing new leadership in the past weeks.
Craft Scotland, which represents 1700 artists, said it was supporting I Value The Arts. Chief executive Emma Walker said: “It is obviously very important. We’ve been signing up to every petition going, but understand we need to do more than that.”

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