Saturday, 6 November 2010

IETM Glasgow 2010: Reflections, Part 1

One thing that I have enjoyed is the opportunity to reconnect with my own city. Even before I started spending five days of my week in Edinburgh I hadn’t really engaged with Glasgow properly in a long time. Pounding the streets during IETM has allowed me to do that and in some ways perceive it a new.

By visiting all of my home towns significant cultural locations I’m feeling imbued with a feeling of pride, confidence in what my country has to say in the Europe wide cultural dialogue and, perhaps most importantly, a feeling of security in my own participation in that conversation.

Round table discussions about the mobilisation of arts advocacy across the European Union has helped me to identify more with the cultural landscape in which I work and play, create and enable.

Over the course of three short days I have created links not only for myself, as a creative individual, but for the Edinburgh Fringe Society, the organisation I represent, with Barcelona, Poland, Germany, France and the Netherlands.

I also won £5.40 on the euro millions which I have decided to take as significant. Perhaps it is representative of the fact that primarily I am Scottish but I am also European.

All this cross-cultural interconnectivity has been illuminating not only in the context of what I already know but also on where my knowledge could do with sharpening.

A point that has been addressed more than once this weekend is that it is so easy to work in your own little bubble and forget that there are entire continents out there with whom we can communicate and work alongside in order to make things easier and better, creatively and politically.

It is important to remember that we, the current generation of creative practitioners and professionals, leave the legacy for the next and therefore we should endeavour together to make sure that it is a good and sustainable legacy.

We should be aware of what our colleagues and peers are doing and what we can to do to support each other.

One of the key issues highlighted during the sessions of IETM is, of course, the universal problem of budget cuts for the arts and the societal value of arts activities, or lack there of.

What stood out in my mind, and it is a symptom of where we are going wrong and a consistent bad habit within the cultural sector. It is, to paraphrase John Holden, that arts policy debate takes place between experts when it should be a conversation between audiences.

Linking into that is the fact that the fate of cultural funding is always in the hands of politicians who will campaign for what is important to society at large.
Society at large is your audience; you take the debate on policy to them then you create value in cultural activity where perhaps it hasn’t existed before. That will inevitably translate into influence on how they use their vote. You instill value for what you do in the people that can consume it then it follows that you instill it in the policy makers, because they have to respond to their audience just as much as we do.

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