A one-day symposium about socially engaged arts and cultural democracy titled Uncommon Ground crumbled upon the slightest scrutiny, and left a good number of the audience disappointed and let down to say the least. In advance of the event which took place at The Lowry on 22nd March 2018, little information apart from two underwhelming personal blog posts were given as lead-in material. The morning session involved four presentations, and NO discussion or Q&A of any kind. Tweets were welcomed to be responded to later – I wondered if they have replaced real nuanced discussion?
It’s the Economy, stupid!
By mid-afternoon it was clear that nobody was going to bring up the economics of inequality or within the arts, nor how arts can have an impact on such structural inequality. An embarrassing omission given that there is a common understanding of inequality being first and foremostly related to economic and political power. In most symposia or conferences, a subject is usually given some broad sweep overview of the history and key pieces of work and debates that have developed over the decades, plus some critical and fresh perspectives on the gaps – those areas which still need addressing. This kind of basic context was completely absent at Uncommon Ground, an insulting slap in the face for those who have tirelessly worked in the field and against the grain for those decades.
The Launch through a lens: Footprint Modulation’s Launch by local photographer Simone Rudolphi
Footprint Modulation had its preview and launch night on Thursday 4th June at Durham Art Gallery (DLI). The evening was not what you might typically expect from a launch for an art exhibition, starting with the relaxed and accessible manner Kooj Chuhan, the artistic-director and one of the artists exhibiting, spoke about the journey behind the exhibition and his artwork at the DLI. Kooj Chuhan’s work, titled Chamada From Chico Mendes, is an interactive piece in which visitors can play different resources like a musical instrument, ranging from bottled water to a mobile phone, to create different effects on the collage of documentary footage displayed in a mask image. Other speakers at the preview showed the range of partners involved in the exhibition, from grassroots climate change organisation Transition Durham to climate change researcher Dr Andrew Baldwin. The evening finished with moving poetry from Platform’s Sai Murray, and a beautiful impromptu song from Tracey Zengeni whose artwork will be on display at the Durham Miners’ Hall, rounding off a unique and affecting evening.
A lively documentary profile of the inspiring national apprenticeship and training programme in carnival arts has just been released: Future Leaders – a new film by Kooj Chuhan / Metaceptive Media. Anyone interested in arts, young people, communities, carnival, music, dance, visual arts, multi-cultural development and so on should find this interesting.
Full information about this fantastic arts programme which is run by Global Grooves is at www.futureleaders.org.uk . Video created by Kooj Chuhan / Metaceptive Media. [This video is also published on the Global Grooves YouTube channel where a lot more people have seen it – at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9B7uaoWYpcc ]
Includes an interview with Steve White – who was the drummer with the Style Council (Paul Weller) and other worthwhile bands. Continue reading →
Kooj at Metaceptive Media was commissioned by First Cut to design and build the website for the HLF-funded ‘Nana Bonsu Oral History Project‘, which he has been working on for over 6 months beginning with a short training course he delivered in autumn 2013. Finally, the website has now gone live and will be officially launched at a vibrant event at Manchester’s Z-Arts on Saturday 21st June 2014.
Nana Bonsu, also known as Beresford ‘Berry’ Edwards, was of huge importance to Britain’s African community, especially in Manchester which became his home. This oral history project highlights his role in initiatives such as the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination, trade unions, social justice and equal opportunities. Nana’s work, committment and contribution is now nationally recognised by his inclusion in the list of 100 Great Black Britons.
Full details about the project and the event this Saturday are available from the website itself (of course!), at www.nanabonsu.com – please leave some comments on the site if you visit it, or send Kooj a message if you like.