Latest news

Friendship and the community artist

When I talk about community art practice with younger or less experienced artists, I often warn against offering friendship to the people you are working with. I say that because, in co-creation’s rewarding intensity, boundaries blur easily, especially where empathy allies with common purpose. But a community artist is there for a time and a

Continue reading

Leaving the Tower of Babel

I wander through Twitter’s alleyways like a refugee from another land. It’s vivid, disorientating, and full of drama; shouting behind doors, and worse. Strangers pass, deep in argument. I dig out my phrase book to understand what they’re saying, and why. They are at home; I am not. I’m lost. I have learned things here,

Continue reading

Asking better questions

‘Why don’t you consider what the author is trying to do, instead of criticising him for not meeting your expectations?’ I was in the second year of a literature degree, and my tutor was responding to my essay on Thomas Otway’s Venice Preserv’d (1682), the substance of which I’d dedicated to showing that Otway was

Continue reading

‘If not pure, then at least useful.’

Read this book. It is probably the most important book about art that will be published this year. Or about politics. Or even about people.  That’s an absurd claim, I know, but only because no such book exists, or can exist. There is no single, universal standard against which to measure all books and all

Continue reading

Let’s start by valuing what’s already there

Last night, Arlene Goldbard and I recorded the next episode of our blog, ‘A Culture of Possibility’. Our guest was Lucy Wright, an artist and researcher whose work has often centred on the arts and culture that people do without asking for help or permission. Some of that gets called folk, or amateur art, by policy makers and

Continue reading

Making Nothing Happen (Old Words #2)

This essay was originally written in 2016, and revisited in the darker year of 2022 Download a PDF of this essay here On the morning after Britain voted to leave the EU, the novelist Philip Pullman tweeted:  ‘We had a headache, so we shot our foot off. Now we can’t walk, and we still have the headache.’ Philip Pullman This

Continue reading

Time to leave? (I’m getting grumpy.)

After 40 years working in the cultural sector, I have reached the point of being all but unemployable, except perhaps as a technician, like the plumber you call in for a blocked drain. It’s more than a decade since I applied for a job with a salary and a job description: I stopped when I

Continue reading

Light in the darkness

Last Friday evening, in the Liceu audience in Barcelona, I listened to a single cellist play a mournful melody from the opera about to be performed. A message on the safety curtain expressed solidarity with the victims of war in Ukraine and called for peace. The following day, at a performance of the community opera

Continue reading

The story, not the storyteller

Yesterday, I wrote a short post on the physical effects of grief, only to set it aside. I’ve written little in the past weeks, and published less. Among the broken things is my idea of why I write, or rather, why I publish. Writing itself has been a way of making sense of my experience

Continue reading

Old words

Next Friday, 4 March, I’ll add a new thread of work to this website. I’ve called it ‘Old Words’ because that’s what they are—essays and talks written over many years but unheard, except on the occasion of their delivery. They’ll be available as PDFs, audio files, and podcasts from miaaw.net, which is already home to

Continue reading

Culture, development and Covid-19

The cultural and creative sectors were among the hardest hit by the pandemic, with over 10 million jobs lost in 2020 alone. Re|Shaping policies for creativity: addressing culture as a global public good, UNESCO, 2022 Since 2005, UNESCO has published reports about the implementation of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity

Continue reading

Life interrupted

Please take care – this post contains news you may find distressing. Tears of rage, tears of griefWhy must I always be the thief?Come to me now, you knowWe’re so aloneAnd life is brief Bob Dylan, 1967 For ten years, this site has enabled me to publish research, books and occasional reflections as blog posts.

Continue reading

In midwinter

In the northern hemisphere, December means winter. In Nottingham, where I am now, nights are long. Sunrise will come after eight, today, sunset, before four. This is truly the depth of winter. The world seems submerged at this time of year. Humans don’t hibernate, but like other animals, we slow down, stay indoors, eat plenty

Continue reading