We’re living in a censor culture

We’re living in a censor culture…..

It seems that The Loquacionist also experiences an unease with an extraordinary growth in censorship see their blog to read more…  http://theloquacionist.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/were-living-in-a-censor-culture/


We’re all in this together…

DSC_0413ed copy   Mindful of last nights particularly ‘Europe focused’ BBC Question Time in which the ‘in or out’ debate raged across the panel and through the audience, I am moved to write about my recent trip to Paris. It was my second time and a special event. Mr B. had scrimped for a year so he could take me for my half century and as that falls on a bank holiday weekend, a lot of scrimping was involved. Mr B. is always shocked at how ‘untravelled abroad’ I am, even my eldest daughter has travelled abroad more than I have but as the sibling of a severely handicapped child it is perhaps unsurprising and I do know England, Wales and swathes of Scotland and Ireland – like the back of my hand.

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Travelling is so important it broadens your understanding of history, life, people. Travelling extends your sense of secret self by challenging your presumed response to new situations and assumptions accrued by ignorance and lack of experience. I did most of my childhood travelling in books and by listening to the stories and memories of others, later through plays and theatre. As soon as I could drive and afford petrol I explored and adventured the counties of England and Wales soaking in all the rich history, culture and people.


The Europe debate is quite a poignant one for me, every time I travel via Eurostar to Europe I am mindful of how wonderful it is for the unaccustomed traveller to venture abroad safe in the knowledge that there is a structure in place that helps them to do so with relative ease. One of my uncles went alone to India in his early twenties, he was lost for two weeks before being flown home in shorts and a t-shirt and no shoes, having fallen ill and having had all his belongings including his passport stolen from him. As traumatic experiences go, it didn’t break him, it helped him discover a part of himself,  previously hidden; a resolve to survive, an ability to communicate-  to live every day more fully. But travel shouldn’t have to have such a strong sense of danger and uncertainty attached to it, we are not all twenty-something thrill seekers and lone adventurers and for me that is one of the strongest reasons to be part of the European Union.  What I would hope the European Union starts to address is the retention of a country’s  identity and sense of self so we don’t become an homogenous land of fast food outlets and perfectly formed fruit and vegetables.

Anyway, back to Paris. Whilst travelling on foot to Monmartre we came across a school building which displayed a plaque recording that over three hundred children had been taken from the school and died in concentration camps in the second world war.http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMD57N_In_Memory_of_School_Children__Paris_France

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Later we came across the Ecole Ville de Paris which displayed a similar plaque more blatantly naming the Vichy Government as well as the Nazi’s. It occurred to me, whilst registering the utter inhumanity of that act, that recently over two hundred girls had been taken from a school in Nigeria and were still being held captive. It is all too easy to forget the lessons of that war and the biggest lesson of all is that together against a common enemy we are stronger but equally in times of peace together we are stronger in building a better world where we stand against injustice, tyranny and inhumanity. There may well be corruption within the European Union itself but its formation had a higher purpose and we should be very careful not to turn our backs on the potential of a relationship formed from the utter horror and evil of a war, when it strives to do the best for all people, although it may not always achieve this.

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I don’t believe that we as imperfect humans with all our myriad weaknesses and vulnerabilities, should strive to live harmoniously in a one world culture but I do believe we should celebrate and respect our cultural differences.  Later, whilst sitting in the La Place de La Republique  considering ‘Liberte, Egalite and Fraternite’ I felt the benefit of the European Union more keenly than I ever have before.

I had been considering closing down the @cultureactive  twitter account. Finally it feels as if other platforms are emerging to champion on a broad scale all that is good and glorious and should be celebrated about culture largely in the UK but also internationally. It is good to see what is being done and what is being valued or explored in countries far away and to reflect on that, in much the same way that we have embraced events at night in museums, a popular concept originally offered by French Museums. As our twitter base grows and we continue to promote awareness of all that is out there it seemed that perhaps our act of ‘activism’ has come to an end. But perhaps we should simply be considering more fully whether it’s time to move on a stage?  Like the broader debate on the European Union, our beleaguered arts organisations and the fight to recognise the value of arts and artists perhaps rests on the simple premise of “it is better to be all in it together than apart”.

Making it Work with Artsmonkey

Humbled as I am, impressed as I may be, if you like what Charlotte has to say take some time to read more about this great project on OYAP trusts website http://www.oyap.org.uk/currentProjects.html they’ve seen yet another funding cut this year and yet they are doing all the right things for all the right reasons.

Charlotte Pearson



On Tuesday 4th February we sat down at a table in The Courtyard in Bicester which was COVERED in glitter, ribbons, coloured card, pens, glue, stickers, each having been handed one of these books, wondering what we would be filling them with.



Juliet Brain explained that the session would take us through the practical elements of having a freelance career in the arts and, as the title suggests, how to make it work!

Task number 1? Create a double page that describes you as a creative. Now when confronted with a ton of resources it can be difficult to know where to start, especially when you’d normally describe yourself audibly, rather than visually, but we gave it our best shot!

We then moved on to a discussion about what we considered work to be. We began to think about what we wanted out of work, what it…

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The insidious crime against culture… or ‘The body in the Library’

The Cranes at Waterloo,

They know a thing or two,

It’s clear from their jaunty lean

They’ve no intention of coming clean.

And there’s the announcements on the tube,

The surprise in the voice that intones,

All seems to be going according to plan

Move along sir, ma’am.

Tickety Boo. Nothing to see here.

The cordoned off corner of SoHo Square

And the silent dog smothered in handprints

Intimating otherwise. Men in high viz

Simply standing there,

Immune to scrutiny, public glare,

Or stoically prepared, perhaps,

As an eloquence of cultural folk

Descends upon the city.

I am stuffed in a crisply, contemporary Boardoom

With Baronesses, Big Wigs and Chatham House Rules.

My twitchy twitter finger lies mute.

Once grimy Soho has gained a glow

and now, most endearingly shows

A practised charm in cuddling close to Theatre Land.

One can almost smell the indolence dancing

Nonchalently out from Patessierie Valerie, drifting.

And later, vacillating from Soho to Cambridge Circus

along the Charing Cross Road, up from Southbank

Like an elastic band of cultural invaders they come.

Tally Ho! No crime apparent, yet a shadowy finger points accusing.

A tribe of disparate nomads

a merry band of players, a gallery of glamour

In the white smoke of reprobation.

The guady lights, a whiff of Chinese spice,

Embracing the hundreds of us in Multi-platform dimensions;

screen, stage, mobile media, open mic live,

Will we fade away or thrive?

Sucked down in the bowels of the city, marble topped and ornate

We flow. Expectant. Curious. Raging.

Both audience and cast in this movement of hope, this agony

of circumstance, this grind of repitition.

Epitaphs and admonitions; less talk, more do!

Action to the Word! Street talk, flourish, and prickly articulation

As we stand to save our cultural nation. Not as one, but many.

And so,

A temerity of activists? emerge blinking into the light of day

Our thumbs pricked, our comfortable consciences plucked

A tempest gathering.

The crime was more apparent on my way home.

The cranes still lowering on the horizon as I stood beneath the bleached halls of bureaucracy at Whitehall the cultural clouds now drifting away and a jolly policeman making sure he got a good shot of me as he beamed hello. I pondered the statues to fallen heroes, the architectural grandeur, an abundance of building and the Big Wheel slowly turning, rolling over the river reflective in the golden sunlit glow on the portals of power.

There’s a body in the library, you see

And it’s as much who next, as what next?

We can’t stand by and watch the glorious sun set

Now is the time, now the hour

Action to the word. Actions to the words

As one, as many, together.

J. Brain

What Next 2013 #WN2013