Arts and Funding Cuts: Part II

The most impactful consequence of Arts funding cuts, and one that is often ignored, is the effect of the Arts on Mental Health. With the UK in a mental health epidemic, and rates of mental illness in young people at an all time high, how do we justify cutting funding to a proven mental health aid? 

I have already established how and why the Arts are being cut in my first post, now it’s important to address how this impacts day-to-day life. A recent evaluation by the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing show that just one short art session led to an over 70% fall in levels of anxiety and depression in participants, and these results are not in a vacuum. The “All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing”, explained in their Creative Health report that they had found similar results. These studies do not categorically prove that there is link between the decline in Mental Health and the defunding of the Arts, but they do purport the link between Arts programmes and improved mental health, and that gets us some of the way there.

Luckily this is an angle that is already being explored in America; with physicians from Weill Cornell Medical College warning of the dangerous consequences of defunding Arts and Music programmes at ‘The Arts + Mental Health: The Impact on the Human Spirit’ forum in New York, in 2011. Citing studies that found there was an increase in the use of mental health facilities when Arts programmes were cut, Dr Richard Kogan warned that he felt these cuts were “penny wise but pound foolish.” It seems that at least some of these warnings rang true, with the decline in Mental Health seemingly keeping pace with the decline in Arts funding in both UK and US respectively.

A 2018 study found that a quarter of 14-year-old girls had self-harmed, with similar studies suggesting one in 6 people experiences a mental health symptom every week: with statistics like these how do we reconcile the cutting of Arts Funding and the government promise to improve Mental Health facilities? I don’t think we can. As I’ve already explored, albeit briefly, there is a clear link between artistic expression and mental health, there is also a direct link between the cuts in Arts funding and austerity measures, does it not then follow that the government sanctioned austerity cuts have an indirect impact on the current Mental Health climate?

There is no obvious solution to this issue, short of a reassignment of key funding to support the Arts. Now more than ever, it is important to support artistic and Mental Health charities, to stay aware of the financial pressures facing creative industries and organisations, and to be mindful of how you choose to donate. It is also important to remember that statistics mentioned above, and find an artistic outlet should you need one.

 

Written by Esmé Bonner

Arts and Funding Cuts: Part 1

Perhaps the most important question for this blog series is how do we know the arts are losing funding, and moreover, why are they? 

In January 2018, Arts Council England announced a restructuring of their grants system, and an overall cut of £156Million to the 2018-22 budget. Explaining a number of budget reassessments, they state that the £156Million cut was due to a downturn in Lottery sales, with a national collapse leading to £41Million income deficit in 2016, and the most recent figures from 2017 revealing a further 4.7% fall in returns; making an additional £5Million shortfall inevitable. This is irrefutable proof that the Arts are losing funding in key areas, but this is hardly the last of it.

A 2015 article tracked the uptick in private Artistic tuition, citing a £4 p/hour increase in music tuition in Pembrokeshire, and a drop in school based participation. Building on this, the same article quotes the Warwick Commission’s report, which found only 8% of the population are “culturally active”. Vikki Heywood said, about the same report, that it was up to “the government and the cultural and creative industries to take a united and coherent approach that guarantees equal access for everyone to a rich cultural education.” And indeed with creative industries bringing in £76.9Billion a year in 2015, and upwards since, there remains a financial incentive for the government to maintain funding in key developmental areas.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. A number of reports from this year show an overall squeeze in schools Arts funding, with over 90% of the 1,200 participating secondary schools (that’s over 40% of secondary schools in the country) admitting to cutting their Creative Arts programmes. Three in 10 schools in this report reduced timetabled hours for the Creative Arts, four in 10 had reduced funding, and one in 10 stated they relied on parental donations to keep their Arts programmes up and running. These reports come on the back of Education Policy Institute research showing only 53.5% of children took an arts subject GCSE in 2016, a trend which is feared to continue. Cuts to school funding, as with so many other things can be tracked back to government austerity, despite then-Chancellor George Osborne promising to protect our schools in 2010 (when austerity budgets where introduced) schools have faced budget cut backs across the board, with academisation doing little to change that. 

Cutting Arts funding at secondary level has a knock on effect in higher education, with UCAS reporting a 16% drop in Arts applicants this year, and some sources suggesting a particular cut back in English Literature candidates. This has two major consequences; the first is a lack of qualified applicants for positions in creative industries, from design to publishing. The second is the continuation of the teacher shortage; with cash incentives already in place to encourage Maths and STEM students to take a PGCE it may be only a matter of time before the same is necessary in English.

By Esmé Bonner

Ntozake Shange (1948-2018)

 

Ntozake Shange inspired so many to not be afraid of expressing their oppression. She opened the floor for taboo subjects, such as: racism, sexism, rape and the empowerment of black voices to be heard. A woman. A feminist. A game changer. A visionary. The list could go on. Her words come to mind, ‘Where there is a woman there is magic’, and she was magic.

Growing up in rural Jamaica there was no theatre apart from the nativity play at Christmas and the Passion play at Easter. So when a young teacher from Kingston took me to see For Coloured Girls it was an experience I never forgot.

Then I started touring the world with my poetry and who did I run into in Oslo Norway, but Ntozake Shange herself.  What a meeting that was.

Years later we toured Britain together and i wore a different colour of the rainbow every night in celebration of the woman who opened up my young brain.

Just as I had fallen in love with Coloured Girls so she fell in love with my Madwoman Poem and we recited to each other late in the nite.

I haven’t seen you for years but Shange I shall miss your presence n the world. You brought me and all your sisters a rainbow in our skies.

The last time I saw Ntozake Shange I was playing the lead in the London West End premiere of her play Love Space Demands. That was the height of my experience as a poet and actress and she flew in to see it. So many incredible memories of Shange, so many incredible songs.

When you live inside of her words you realize the genius she was.

Written by Olivia Aroh, words taken from texts by Jean Binta Breeze

Mini Series: The Arts and Funding Cuts

Diversifying the arts has become a hot button topic for all the main political parties, yet the question remains, how can the arts grow and diversify if they can barely afford to stay afloat? Seen as inessential by local authorities, it is arts programmes that take the hit when funding gets cut, and thus the governments support and ostensible commitment to diversifying the arts is rendered entirely pointless. When everything from local libraries, to small theatres becomes unsustainable, how do the arts continue to grow? And with the cost of music lessons, and similar artistic tuition, on the rise how do we prevent artistic expression becoming inextricably linked to personal wealth? Over the course of this short blog series, I will look at how the arts benefit mental health, how they help the development of young people, and most importantly how they survive in an age of austerity, and funding cuts.

Andrea Levy (1956-2019)

7thMarch 1956- 14thFebruary 2019

 The Jamaican British author Andrea Levy died on the 14th February 2019, aged 62, after living with cancer for several years. Praised as the “Chronicler of the Windrush generation”, Levy’s works explored the experiences of Jamaican British people, and provided a voice for millions.

 Levy’s writing career began first as a hobby, before she published three novels in 1990s truly launching her career. Her fourth novel, Small Island, earned Levy a spot amongst the literary greats, and established her as one of Britain’s best-loved voices. Yet, she was familiar with her lack of recognition, like so many black writers Levy was all too aware of marginalisation, joking in 1999 that publishers simply didn’t know what to do with her writing. 

 Levy was born in London in 1956 to parents who were part of the boom in immigration that shaped postwar Britain, her father arriving in the UK on the Empire Windrush in 1948 and her mother following shortly afterwards. She grew up on a council estate in Highbury, north London, and went on to study Textiles at Middlesex Polytechnic. In a number of interviews with The Guardian Levy discussed the internalised racism of her youth, and the rude and sudden awakening of her own racial identity she experienced as part of her work at an Islington sex education project. This change in perspective led Levy to produce some of the most important novels for the Jamaican British identity in recent history.

Andrea Levy was deeply loved, and will be remembered for her generous, gentle and affectionate manner, as well as her raucous and playful humour; but it is her novels, and the work she did for equality that will stand the test of time.

 

Written by Esmé Bonner, taken from the writings of Gary Younge and Richard Lea

 

 

Mini Series Chapter I: Introduction to Intersectional Feminism & Colourism

Renaissance One / Tilt are organisations that strives to cultivate diversity within literature. It is important that the word ‘artist’ represent a range of different areas and ways in which people are able to express themselves. The aim is to expand the limiting definition of ‘performance poetry’ and help evolve the meaning so it can be used to describe different mediums that consider themes such as, speech, satire and oratory, thus showing that there are a range of ways that can be used to express a story.

This very aim made me think of the new and different realms of artistry, especially in our postmodern society. Social media is an excellent example that has allowed the meaning of artist to expand holding the title of an artist can almost be seen as less of an occupation but more of a way of living, but most importantly, it is being able to tell a story, regardless of gender or race.

That is why in this mini-series I would like to talk about and express my interest in colourism and intersectional feminism, within the millennial era. Although times are becoming more aware of diversity [as they should] it is clear that a narrow, archaic and prejudice outlook is still prevalent. We need to understand the root of these notions and moreover continue to keep the conversation going.

Interview with Will Harris

The self is something – floodgates open to the constant otherness of experience – to be overwhelmed.
— Will Harris
will-harris-bw-sq.jpg

In our second interview leading up to 'This, That and The Other', Will Harris discusses his work and the theme of otherness. 'This, That and The Other' will be held at the Bronte Parsonage Museum on Saturday 28 July at 7.30pm. For more information and to book tickets click here.

What 3 words would you say best describe you?

Not very pithy.

Tell us how you got into doing what you do.

As a teenager I read a poem by Wallace Stevens about peacocks the "color of heavy hemlocks", and it was mad and incantatory and different to anything I'd studied, and though it may have had palpable designs upon me it was – shorn of character, plot, dialogue, themes, "subject matter" – more like hearing a familiar bass line through a car window or smelling fried halloumi for the first time.

What was the main impetus behind you writing your recent publication Mixed Race Superman?  

I wanted to write about the confusions of a "mixed race" identity – particularly as it intersects with ideas of masculinity – as a way to write about the larger paradoxes behind race-thinking (My dad is English and my mum Indonesian; I grew up thinking of myself as English, but everyone who's ever met me has assumed I'm Asian of some kind). Not out of a need to explain or define myself, but to draw out the perniciousness of that very need to know – both for other people to know who/what you are, and for people of colour to know themselves. To channel the essay's argument I focussed on two "superheroic" mixed-race figures, Keanu Reeves and Barack Obama, who, in how they approached race, have played important roles in shaping my own (non-)sense of identity.

Can you talk a little about the otherness themes that you explore within it?

I understand otherness in two ways. There's the Other as defined by Edward Said – "a sort of surrogate or even underground self" whose role is to prop up the – white, western, active, male – Self. Then there's the otherness that Emanuel Levinas discusses in terms of the "irrecusable exigency of the other, a duty overflowing my being". In both cases, the self is something – floodgates open to the constant otherness of experience – to be overwhelmed.  

What creative masterpiece do you wish you could have written?

The Brothers Karamazov, so I don't have to read it. Or hmm... wouldn't it be horrible to steal a writing credit from someone whose work you really admired? Imagine taking the Buru Quartet away from Pramoedya Ananta Toer after he spent 10 years in prison writing it! Maybe I should "have written" (a tense that comes naturally to me) something I don't admire, or admire ambivalently, like Philip Roth's The Counterlife or John Berryman's Dream Songs, or Wordsworth's Prelude. But putting aside ethics, I'd gladly have written any of Simone Weil's essays or Penelope Fitzgerald's The Gate of Angels.

What's an important piece of insider knowledge you have as a creator, writer and thinker?

No sight but hindsight. The point of work is doing it. Make notes. Read the Communist Manifesto. 

Tell us about an upcoming project that excites you, and how we can find out more about it.

I'm finishing a poetry book, which is exciting. And, thanks to Jaybird Live Literature, I'm going on a poetry tour with the excellent and exciting Ella Frears and Alex MacDonald in the autumn (more details here).


‘This, That and The Other’ is the headline event for the Emily 2018 (events celebrating the 200th birthday of Emily Brontë), featuring a stunning array of poets, musicians and wordsmiths, all offering their personal response to the themes of ‘other’ and the ‘outsider’; themes central to Wuthering Heights and pertinent to Emily Brontë. Join us to experience the thrill of performance, perfectly pitched speech, rousing wordplay and the art of Trinidad-style liming. With Patience Agbabi, John Siddique, Jay Bernard, Will Harris, Tobago Crusoe and Melanie Abrahams.

The event is part of a four-part series curated by Melanie Abrahams for the Bronte Parsonage Museum as part of Brontë 200.

Interview with John Siddique

My secret has always been simply doing the work until it sings with an integrity and life of its own.
— John Siddique

We caught up with John Siddique, who will be reading from a new essay, ‘1000 Days After I Was Supposed To Die’ at 'This, That and The Other', an event to be held at the Bronte Parsonage Museum on Saturday 28 July at 7.30pm. For more information and to book tickets click here.

John Water Element 2018 smaller.jpg

What 3 words would you say best describe you?

Clearsighted, heart, awareness.

Tell us how you got into doing what you do.

I have no idea how to answer this, or how to encapsulate it, but here’s a short attempt - on the writing side I read until I became a library of stories, poems, facts, truths, lies, fictions, debate, and multitudes myself, then I wrote until I could write about anything or anyone while maintaining transparency. When I’d gone as far as I felt I wanted to with writing I ‘retired’ and began teaching some aspects from my main work of meditation and spiritual self-realisation, writing has always been secondary to this work, and my practice had reached a point where the next step was only to be found in sharing with, and teaching other people. I’ve been practicing 40 years this year.


How do you relate to the theme of otherness?

There is no other, only the delusion of self and other created to serve our egoic ideas, and unconscious fear based drives, that somehow we can become complete in ourselves by pushing towards greater and greater separation. Any quick glance at the news with a bit of consciousness will show you the truth of this.

What creative masterpiece do you wish you could have written?

None, I’m very happy with the journey that literature took me on, and I’m even happier beyond that vehicle. There are some truly wonderful writings that has been part of my life, but I’ve never for one minute wished I could have written them, or be anyone other than this being.

5 writings that I love:

Illusions - Richard Bach
Big Two Hearted River - Ernest Hemingway
Tao Te Ching - Lao Tzu
Wild Geese - Mary Oliver
Toba Tek Singh - Manto

 What's an important piece of insider knowledge you have as a creator, writer and thinker?

Most people don’t do the work, they want to be seen to be as ‘something.’ Try not to emulate them no matter how shiny they look. My secret has always been simply doing the work until it sings with an integrity and life of its own. The public side of all real work and getting to the good stuff is entirely secondary.

Tell us about an upcoming project that excites you, and how we can find out more about it.

 

My next day retreat is in September of this year and we’ll be looking at going beyond and healing the ‘critical and judgemental mind,’ as this causes so much illness and division in our lives. Retreats excited me as we get to really bring presence to the matter at hand and work at a deep level with our basic human goodness. Next Easter I’m hopefully making an exploratory trip to the US to see what connections can be made for my work and hopefully share some teachings and practice. There may also be a retreat in India at the end of 2019. Best way to see what I’m up to is subscribe to our YouTube channel, and/or visit www.authenticliving.life and join our mailing list.


‘This, That and The Other’ is the headline event for the Emily 2018 (events celebrating the 200th birthday of Emily Brontë), featuring a stunning array of poets, musicians and wordsmiths, all offering their personal response to the themes of ‘other’ and the ‘outsider’; themes central to Wuthering Heights and pertinent to Emily Brontë. Join us to experience the thrill of performance, perfectly pitched speech, rousing wordplay and the art of Trinidad-style liming. With Patience Agbabi, John Siddique, Jay Bernard, Will Harris, Tobago Crusoe and Melanie Abrahams.

The event is part of a four-part series curated by Melanie Abrahams for the Bronte Parsonage Museum as part of Brontë 200.

James Berry (1924 - 2017)

The Jamaican poet James Berry died in the morning of 20 June 2017.  Berry was a pioneering writer, educator, editor and activist - a wonderful poet whose writing for both adults and children was characterised by compassion, humour and an acute eye for the political and social factors that shaped his life, and the lives of others.  He came to Britain in the postwar era of Jamaican emigration, sailing on the SS Orbita, the second ship after the Windrush.  As a writer arriving in the first wave of Caribbean settlement in England, Berry was influential to the generations of poets that followed, including John Agard, Grace Nichols, Sandra Agard, Maggie Harris, and in the current decade, Dean Atta and Raymond Antrobus.

In 2004 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's but despite the serious nature of his illness and its worsening over the years, he would on many occasions enjoy listening to poetry, engage the people around him in conversation, and respond with warmth and delight to music. In 2013, a trust was set up in his name by his partner Myra Barrs, and over twenty poets, performers and organisations pooled together to mark his contribution to literature with a fundraising benefit at the Tabernacle (read about the benefit here).  

At 93, Berry was one of the last surviving literary voices of the early Windrush Generation.  His funeral will take place on July the 4th. He will be sadly missed by family, friends and the many readers and listeners who have savoured his writing and wordplay over the years.  

Words taken from texts by Hannah Lowe and Melanie Abrahams

Interview with Shara McCallum

...poetry is not abstruse... poems are relevant to contemporary experience and in language that includes the demotic as well as lyrical and metaphoric.
— Shara McCallum

The Jamaican-American poet visits the UK in May 2017 for a book tour of her latest poetry collection Madwoman (Peepal Tree Press, 2016).  Read about the tour here.

SharaMcCallum(photo).jpg

 

 

What 3 words would you say best describe you?

Irreverent, direct, inward-and-outward looking.

Tell us how you got into writing and teaching/lecturing

I was a beginning writer when I started to teach writing and the two went and still go hand in hand. I love it when people, from kindergartners to graduate students to people I meet on the street, will let me talk about poetry and read and recite poems to them.

What do you enjoy most about being a writer? 

Using language to create and recreate experiences in and of the world.

Where would you say your style of writing comes from?

A meeting of old world and new, a love of tradition and innovation.

Tell us a little about your upcoming tour of England

I'll be visiting 5 cities in 10 days in England, Scotland, and Ireland and look forward to seeing friends and meeting new people along the way. Also to being on trains. I love trains.

What creative masterpiece do you wish you had written?

Too-too many to name but, for example, these are two odes I love: "Ode to the Nightingale" by John Keats and "Ode to the Maggot" by Yusef Komunyakaa.

What's an important piece of insider knowledge you have as a writer?

That poetry is not abstruse, that poems are relevant to contemporary experience and in language that includes the demotic as well as lyrical and metaphoric.

Renaissance One is launching Madwoman by Shara McCallum in partnership with Peepal Tree Press and Commonwealth Writers on 9 May at 6pm in central London.  As places are limited it is being run via a guest list. If you are interested in attending email us at hq [at] renaissanceone dot com.  Read about the full tour dates here.

 

 

Interview with Kevin Williamson, Neu! Reekie!

Writer, poet & Creative Director of Neu! Reekie!   Twitter @neureekie  Website

Since the global economic crash of 2008 we’ve moved into an age defined by anxiety, tension and uncertainty. Art has to reflect this or it loses its relevance. This isn’t the 80s or 90s and art operates in a very different context now.
— Kevin Williamson
photo by Jannica Honey

photo by Jannica Honey

What 3 words would you say best describe you? (max 3 words please)

A free-range chameleon. 

Neu! Reekie! What does it mean? 

There are layers of meaning. The historical nickname for our home town of Edinburgh is Auld Reekie (which means old and smelly). Neu! is a hat-tip to the influence of the 70s German electronic outift of the same name. Reekie derives from a poet friend of mine, Paul Reekie, who died in June 2010. Neu! Reekie! was launched 7 months later.

What do you enjoy most about running Neu! Reekie!? 

We get to work with incredibly talented people and mix things up in unexpected ways.

Where would you say the Neu! Reekie! style of presenting literature came from?

In some ways there is continuity with events I produced when I was running Rebel Inc in the 90s. Each show is presented as segments but is conceptualised as a cohesive whole to take participants and audience on a 2-3 hour journey.

Tell us how you got into doing what you do

Being in the right place at the right time and having the suss to be aware of it. The rest is a combination of vision and blagging.

What's an important piece of insider knowledge you have as a creator, maker, performer?

You can get away with anything if you've got coherent ideas, the courage of your convictions, and a brass neck.

What creative masterpiece do you wish you had written?

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. It's more than the sum of its pages. It was a weaponisation of working class culture and internationalised the legitimacy of the Scots language.

Tell us about an upcoming project that excites you

Our Where Are We Now festival in June - part of in Hull as UK City of Culture - is a coming together of artistic pioneers and trouble-makers. We're taking the pulse of the UK's counter-culture.   Twitter @neureekie  Website

Interview with Nick Field

We caught up with performer, writer and director/dramaturg NICK FIELD, who among his many roles is currently supporting poet LYDIA TOWSEY as a Co-director (with RACHEL MARS) on Towsey's show The Venus Papers. Twitter/Insta @nickfieldartist

What 3 words would you say best describe you?

creative tenacious hungry

photo - Nick Field.jpg
I’ve made it my business to keep exploring different forms of performance, and to keep pushing myself to discover new ways of presenting my work.
— Nick Field

Tell us how you got into doing what you do

I started out playwriting when I graduated and got to work with brilliant companies like Paines Plough and the Royal Court, but I became really interested in performing my own work and the possibilities of working directly with an audience. While my work has gone on a journey that has taken in spoken word, performance art and even stand-up, the training I had early on in stagecraft and dramaturgy has always stayed with me and been an important part of what I do.


What do you enjoy most about being a director and dramaturg?

I love working with artists to develop and shape their ideas.  As someone who creates solo theatre I can really relate to the challenges of making and performing work, and so it’s great to be able to help an artist bring their ideas into fruition and support them through that.  
 

Which artist or maker has influenced you the most and why?

Probably the main influence I had to make solo theatre work came from seeing PJ Harvey’s one-person tour, it inspired me to investigate the possibilities of solo performance. 
 

What have you enjoyed most about working on The Venus Papers?

Working on The Venus Papers has been a real joy because the ideas behind the show are so interesting. I was immediately grabbed when I saw the first draft of the script by how Lydia Towsey had managed to integrate material with contemporary political resonance and very personal material through this narrative that plays with such iconic imagery. It was great working with Lydia to help shape and hone the script and bring out the themes. I also enjoyed…the fact that there is an amazing live score, I bring music a lot into my own work so it was brilliant getting to work with the musicians and develop their role in the show alongside the script and the staging.                    

 

Where would you say your style of making, performing or presenting comes from?

I’ve made it my business to keep exploring different forms of performance, and to keep pushing myself to discover new ways of presenting my work, so I say from that. 

 

What creative masterpiece do you wish you had written?

It would have to be Samuel Beckett’s ‘Happy Days’, the poetic tragedy and the dark humour get me every time. 

 

What's an important piece of insider knowledge you have as a creator, maker, performer?

Preparation, preparation and more preparation. My advice is always to really think it through beforehand and go into the performance space ready to make it work.

 

Does the current state of affairs or popular culture influence your writing, performing or your making of art?

Yes, I am fascinated by both. My current show Work Play explores working lives and how they are effected by workplace politics at a micro level, but also how they are shaped by the current political context. And because I’m a popular culture junkie there’s a Britney cover version and references to historical war epic narratives.

 

Tell us about an upcoming project that excites you.

Coming up I’m going to be working with Penned in the Margins on ‘Fair Field' an adaptation of an epic medieval poem. It’s going to be a major project and I’m excited about creating a piece in response to a hedonistic feast in the poem, thrown by Gluttony. I have a feeling it’s going to get messy!  The show will be at Ledbury Poetry Festival and then Shoreditch Town Hall this July.  Twitter/Insta @nickfieldartist

Archive this

As part of our activity, we film and/or record events that we produce where possible. The reason is not just for archive purposes. It's not about putting it in a drawer or shelf, and forgetting. The puzzling and complex, and sometimes almost full-time job aspect of filming and deciding whether to film or not, is that as soon as you make the decision to do it, you  have to do something with it. Look at it, examine it, edit it (which can take ages if there’s poor lighting or staging for example). At the very least you need to file it, or mark it for someone's attention later down the line.  I also appreciate after having had some experience by now that you have to think about what you are doing.  Is it going to be good?  (and what is good).  What look and feel are you aiming for? why? Edited films and videos, when done well, can be an artform in themselves, separate to the live performance that the camera was fixed upon.  As an organisation we’re not there yet, in production and infrastructure terms, but we're thinking about these aspects, and adapting, and trying to be better, as we go on.


Here are some of our videos:

From the 'Art For Change' event in June at New Art Exchange, we brought together audiences to explore themes around arts for social justice through panels, an audience Q and A and presentations by writers, community interest groups, and arts activists.

See some highlights from the day:

A Performance by Mark Gwynne Jones 

(part of a performance filmed at Free Word)

A performance by Peak District poet Mark Gwynne Jones, who is well regarded for bringing an almost music hall edge to his performance. Mark presented at New Art Exchange a 'Melding Voices' show with India based poet and translator Mamta Sagar – billed as England's Peak District meets India's Karnataka in a melding of voices.


Day of the Unread

Not one of our videos, this was one of the films screened at Art For Change given to us by local writer,  journalist and LeftLion editor James Walker.   More than 100 people took part in the Nottingham city centre reading flashmob in 2014. Organised by Dawn of the Unread, they sat on the floor at the strike of 12pm to have a quiet read, to highlight the importance of hard copy books and to protest against the closure of libraries across the country.


Telling Tales Slam

Medieval meets Modern in a sizzling staged slam of poets, each of whom breathes life into one of Patience Agbabi's characters from her latest poetry collection, Telling Tales (Canongate, 2014). Filmed at the Albany, Deptford in 2014 as part of the Telling Tales Tour. Event in partnership with Tilt, Apples and Snakes and the Albany.

In this video Medieval meets Modern in a sizzling staged slam of poets PATIENCE AGBABI, KYRILL POTAPOV, FRANCESCA BEARD, STEVE TASANE and MICHAEL BROME, and neo-medieval musical responses by DJ: PSYKHOMANTUS. Each poet took on a character from Patience Agbabi’s poetry collection, Telling Tales.  The audience at the live slam event which was a partnership between Apples and Snakes, Tilt, Renaissance One and The Albany, got to vote on their favourite character (won by Michael Brome).

Literature on the road

Around the year we produce many literature events, in various cities. Exciting is not the word. It’s exhilarating and fun, and it entails keeping your cool and managing changes consistently.  Being able to interact with writers whilst they travel and prepare for an event, and watching them as they interact with a curious and often enthused public, offers a first-hand-experience of writers in the public arena.  As a team of producers and curators, we are able, and fortunate, to understand more about writing and - to some extent - the touring life of writers (those who do).  Over the years, I have built up an understanding of producing the specifics of literature, and maintained a high regard for writers, particularly those who are generous with words and insights in the public spotlight, after so many years of touring and engagements.