Author Topic: The Cultural Strategy 2005  (Read 24753 times)

ole razzy

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The Cultural Strategy 2005
« on: May 27, 2009, 02:04:07 PM »
Back in 2005 the SOJ narrowly agreed to adopt the Islands first cultural strategy http://www.gov.je/ESC/Culture/StatesCulturalStrategy/

Since then, and despite a great raft of expensive ideas that were included in the report & proposition, it would seem, certainly to the casual outsider, that not much has happened to advance the cause for culture. Ask yourself this. In the last four years have there been any new developments that you can honestly say have improved your knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the arts?

At the heart of the strategy was a fundamental re-structuring of the way that culture would be funded. Previously the Arts & Heritage Trusts had been set up independently as arm’s length funding bodies and relatively free from direct political control. These well established principles also control the way governments relate to universities and the media in all democracies. The strategy called for a wholesale re-evaluation of that principal and instead gave ultimate control to one person - the Minister for Education.

Setting aside the personalities (they are many and they are odd) that inhabit the upper echelons of the civic society groups that influence, and indeed produce, the cultural offering, and by looking at what has actually been achieved in four years I will argue that the arts have not been best served by direct government control. And by providing evidence of the shortfalls and the political inertia that has gripped the arts, I hope we all might draw conclusions about the best way to develop a new strategy so that we all can once again feel good about the opportunities afforded to us.

I will start, later today, by publishing ESC's list of achievements to date in the sector as provided by Deputy Labey (former assistant minister with special responsibility for culture - catchy title aint it!) to Planet Jersey during her uncontested election run in.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2009, 02:07:04 PM by ole razzy »

ole razzy

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Re: The Cultural Strategy 2005
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2009, 07:24:25 PM »
OK so here are just a few off the list of 'achievments' since 2005. Now bare in mind this is 4 years down the track and probably some £12m of our taxes spent along the way. And also remember my earlier comments about new developments or initaives that you can honestly say have improved your knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the arts and culture.

1. Responsibility agreed for public monuments.  Condition Survey and Maintenance Report commissioned.  (1.4)

Not a great start is it. Especially when one considers that the old Public Works then TTT maintained these previously. That Jersey Heritage Trust now has responsibility adds nothing nor improves the cultural offering the public. This is simply transferring responsibility from one publicly funded organisation to another. Nothing new. Nothing added to public’s enjoyment or understanding of Jersey’s culture. I say nil points.

2. Commissioning of Jersey Public Sculpture Trust sculpture Trail Leaflet. (1.5)

Now we really are hitting the heights aren’t we! A leaflet! So I guess the leaflet was posted out to every Jersey home as part of a wider push to engage new audiences and make people more sympathetic to the benefits for public art. No? Why not? Could'nt be bothered?

3. Anthem Competition run and anthem selected.

Nobody knows what it is. Nobody will ever really remember it. And those that do don't like it. Why? Because we are not a nation state? Or is this is just another of the Bailiff’s pet projects hastened in to soften up the public for an independence vote? A culturally defunct project which, if the truth be known, is actually a source of some embarrassment and hilarity rather than genuine pride. If you have any doubts then be reassured by the fact that the well known musical impressario Ex Senator Mike Vibert was on the judgeing panel.

4. JHT Blue Plaque scheme introduced. (1.6)

Hold on a minute havent plaques been erected for many years before the existence ESC and or the Jersey Heritage Trust. Is this something new? In the last four years I cannot recall a single press release or any media coverage of an unveiling of a blue plaque as a result of this objective. Moreover so far as I know there are no guided tours of the existing plaques to connect and inform us of the past. Once again nothing added and nothing new!

This is but a small sample of the kind of tosh that was put up as justification for the strategy. More to follow. But it would be good if somebody made a comment!

Offline Dylan

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Re: The Cultural Strategy 2005
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2009, 07:26:51 AM »
They're all frightened to put fingletips to keyboard!

How about the cultural ineptitude of employing someone to dig up and reface the 2000 year old tunnel facade at Hougue Bie? Which subsequently needed repairs because it was done using modern building methods?

How about the social blackmail of Planning demanding a contribution to public sculpture instead of passing iconic houses?

The anthem has been slagged off widely, sung by Sadie Rennard ( reputed to be named by her ma "sad is eileen" as she wanted a boy)
This if was anything interesting should have been a schools competition, for fun and mirth. Sounds more like something Hitler would have tapped his jodphurs to, no doubt an unfortunate choice of a pidgeon.

Blue Placques? For who? Maybe one outside Deputy Labey's house saying "The father of the house was arrested here, but not charged". Perhaps the cops took his computer away thinking it would prevent him from posting any more sh!t.

I think we should have a blue placque PJ competition to say where? who? why? what the hell for?

Perhaps one at the Island site to say "Former minister Horsefall stored his boat here for free" or one at Green Island saying "Deputy Rumboll wanted to put the airport here", Maybe on in town saying"Big Trev Hustled a few drunks here" or even one above the entrance of the Royal court with an arrow left saying "Judiciary" and one right saying "Lawmakers" with an overhead camera focused on another saying "Caution, the duplicity you witness hereonin is genuine, watch out for don't know's"

I do note that one is desperately needed at the treasury claims desk saying "Warning, historical claims for music lessons may be frowned on", That's real culture. Maybe one at The weighbridge toilets saying "Tenners no longer acceptable under stall doors"

Perhaps one on the States Chamber "Davros ruined our economy here" or even next door "This is the site of a former outstanding library, now the office of a person who has the power to naturalise you" as if we weren't all natural anyway (ALVIN EXCEPTED).

This the kind of thing you are after?
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ole razzy

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Re: The Cultural Strategy 2005
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2009, 07:39:59 PM »
Thanks for taking time out guys. GB I can sense your reality levels are flicking up a notch. Sparty old bean - well what can I say - erudite as ever (wanna credit on the Bruno movie?)

Maybe nobody else gives a monkeys about the arts and culture on PJ? Maybe its worse still in so far as its not really important in a place that is often associated with apathy and where the majority of the working population are either in the financial or civil service's (occupations not usually associated with dealing in the currency of ideas).  Maybe going to the gym or the pub should have been the main objectives underpinning the strategy in our mini post industrial knowledge economy? Do I sound a little bitter? I know there's a boat in the morning but I just have an inkling that with the right strategy, financial support and a genuine willingness on the part of people to engage, Jersey could actually be quite a cool place to live - culturally speaking. Currently, sorry to say, and despite some flatulent political nation state posturing to suggest otherwise, we are on a par with say........Grimsby. In fact its worse as they have a professional football team to stir the blood.

So what do we need that we haven't already got? A university? A proper live music venue on the UK tour date circuit? A institute for contemporary art & design? Some kick ass festivals that bring in the avant garde and well healed (Branchage is perhaps the only one - Jersey Live is most definatly not)? Tax breaks for creative industries businesses including software design? Funky live work spaces? Cool urban planning and architectural design? A planned and engaged public art programme? A Jazz cafe? Or are we simply at the limits of what we as an Island are prepared to spend on culture and so we are condemmed to dragging our sorry asses off the sofa and down to the Opera House to watch some amateurs forget their lines?

So here's the question - What do we want Jersey to be like in the future? Pretty picture postcard twee? Come pretty near to ruining that ideal already have'nt we? Or a more sopisticated, urbane and relaxed and liberal society that looks good and caters for locals and high flying visitors? I think the later fits quite neatly into the 'Jersey as an international financial services centre' and 'tourism destination' sandwich. Do you?

Offline stoneface

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Re: The Cultural Strategy 2005
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2009, 07:55:47 PM »
I tend to the view that culture is something the government should stay out of. To use the classic example, why should the dustbin man and the nurse be taxed to pay for the rich man's opera?

I appreciate that's not exactly what you're proposing, but the principle holds. Decent art and "culture" will be able to pay for itself. The question is, do we have the talent but there's some structural reason why it's just not feasible? An example that comes to mind is property prices: are they pushing up rents so much that self-funding arts become uneconomic? Or do we just not have the talent?
"The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good, in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it." - John Stuart Mill

ole razzy

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Re: The Cultural Strategy 2005
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2009, 08:15:44 PM »
I tend to the view that culture is something the government should stay out of. To use the classic example, why should the dustbin man and the nurse be taxed to pay for the rich man's opera?

I believe that goverment should stay as far away from the arts as it possibly can. My experience of working in the public sector where politicians are forced to sit on Trust's and such like is that they are an unmittigted disaster. They are divisive, self important, lazy and unable to grasp even the most basic of principles - in short they ain't cultured. But.....and here's the thing.....we need them to buy into it, leverage the money, take the credit for the success and get as far away from the day to day management of it as is possible. Crazy as it may sound we actually have in place a funding structure in Jersey which gives the Minister the final say on what goes on and what doesn't - the only other example of that which I'm aware of was in the old soviet union! But then again it was Mike Vibert that brough it into effect.


I appreciate that's not exactly what you're proposing, but the principle holds. Decent art and "culture" will be able to pay for itself. The question is, do we have the talent but there's some structural reason why it's just not feasible? An example that comes to mind is property prices: are they pushing up rents so much that self-funding arts become uneconomic? Or do we just not have the talent?

Excellent point but I have to disagree. Decent art and culture quite often can't pay for itself, it often requires subsidy to even exist in the first place. If culture was simply the lowest common denominator then a trip to rome might mean taking in some of the worlds most historical bingo halls and mud wrestling ampitheatres.

I do think we have the talent. Statisically more students from Jersey are studying creative degrees then ever before. The figure is actually astronomical - something like 65% of all under grad and post grad students. The problem is that if they decide to return to Jersey they become culturally detached and employable only in sectors that their skills are unusable. The really talented ones soon realise this and get the feck out asap. My point is that there should be enough going on to hang onto them so they can effect positive change. You just need a properly funded strategy and the right people in place (not politicians or wealthy establishment do-gooders) to plant the seeds and nuture the project.

Offline Dundee

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Re: The Cultural Strategy 2005
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2009, 08:39:33 PM »
This is something that concerns me a great deal but I only have time for some brief comments at present:

Percent for art: Why not add "culture" and a developer could fund a cultural project this could give a much broader scope for public involvement, and support local cultural objectives instead of funding off Island sculptors and their materials.

Supporting some lost or disappearing trades such as boat building or stone masons (as in carved and artistic work).

Interesting is the recent funding of the Heritage Trust (with a States member on its board) due to difficulties which were of their own making - over staffing, 6 percent pay rise, DUKW fiasco, Mont Orgeuil over spend, 1204 celebration flop. It would appear the recent funding has gone on a massive membership drive advertising which will only be to the detriment to other independent bodies and charities.

I have previously suggested that one of the forts or towers be used as a marine study come artist base but this was not taken up probably due to a will to make an income instead. Not so much a cultural initiative I have suggested the Island have a marine research station that could be used by locals and visiting students, it works in other areas for example Roscoff which has an International reputation.

More to follow when time permits


Offline stoneface

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Re: The Cultural Strategy 2005
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2009, 09:00:13 PM »
Razzy, I'm going to play some devil's advocate here...

Decent art and culture quite often can't pay for itself, it often requires subsidy to even exist in the first place. If culture was simply the lowest common denominator then a trip to rome might mean taking in some of the worlds most historical bingo halls and mud wrestling ampitheatres

Not so. Think of the art of Florence - funded by the Midici family, not the State. Michaelangelo, etc is hardly to be equated with Big Brother. Much art and culture is self funding - music, for example, and Damien Hirst has made a mint creating what he claims is art. Might it just be that not enough people also like  "decent art and culture" as you define it to make it self-funding?

I do think we have the talent. Statisically more students from Jersey are studying creative degrees then ever before. The figure is actually astronomical - something like 65% of all under grad and post grad students.

The cynic in me asks: is this because the massive expansion of higher education in the UK over the last ten years has been led by the creative arts subjects, and are easier courses to get on to? Correlation or causation.

/devil's advocate

You just need a properly funded strategy and the right people in place (not politicians or wealthy establishment do-gooders) to plant the seeds and nuture the project.

The problem with providing funding is that money is power and I don't want the politicians to have the power to decide what is "decent" art and culture or not. I'd be more interested in what could be done to break down those structural barriers so art and culture can grow by itself.
"The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good, in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it." - John Stuart Mill

ole razzy

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Re: The Cultural Strategy 2005
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2009, 10:39:02 PM »
Hi Stoneface,

Actually I didn't read the contradictions as clearly as maybe you did. I didn't say that state funded culture was the only solution. The private sector and wealthy individuals have a big part to play in securing relevant and meaningful cultural development (and that's never really been properly tapped into in Jersey which is a massive oversight). In the USA the system is almost exclusively funded through legacy and donor programmes (Ok as a fundraiser you have to hang out with a lot of people who have spray on tans and nasty plastic surgery but its rewarding because there is a culture of giving which does not exist to the same level in europe) . Whether its a Medici or a Chris Smith does'nt bother me - having the ability to convince either of the value of the arts is surely the trick.

There are also many types of music, especially early or classical that require huge subsidy in order to continue and with the democratisation of the pop industry it has been recently argued that the days of the wealthy record label are numbered and that in time this sector may well need state support. I don't know if I agree with the hypothesis but the issues are self evident.  

Believe it or not after I graduated from Art School I worked in Hirst's studio in Brixton making spin and dot paintings for £5 an hour. He would sell them for £20,000 a pop and I loved him for it. It most definately was art but he was commercially shrewd enough to exploit the market. Fair play to him.

I dont know if doing a creative degree such as film making is any easier or harder then say a science course. My guess is that if you were to conduct some research into the subject you might find that a science undergraduate is just as likely to get a third class honours if asked to complete a film degree as an artist would in physics. Some subjects may on the face of it seem more academic but if you have no talent it really doesnt matter how hard you try.

As long as money is required to foster, develop and enhance the arts (and new audiences for them) your'e always going to find a politician somewhere round the corner. Goes, unfortunately, with the territory. Its not a vote winner but it provides a certain cache that they like and can easily obtain vicariously through association. The trick is to try and convince them that you like their poor fashion sense, their innate sense of self gandeur and toupee arrangments for as long as you need to get the money. Once that's done ignore them for another year and hope that they've moved on to another area of government. The SOJ will never committ to mid-term statutory funding for culture. If its going to be elevated above its current levels of mediocraty it really needs a Medici or two.

« Last Edit: May 28, 2009, 10:47:55 PM by ole razzy »

Offline stoneface

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Re: The Cultural Strategy 2005
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2009, 12:04:21 AM »
That's an interesting point - do we have the legal structures here to allow the kinds of charitable foundations that the Americans have? If not, that's a structural barrier right there that we could do something about.

I agree that a scientists and artists think in different ways (on the average, of course, it's not mutually exclusive). It's not my intention to claim one type of study is harder than another, and I could probably have phrased my last post better. I should have simply noted that the expansion of the higher education system in the last few decades has mainly occurred - for whatever reason - in the vocational subjects, which includes the creative subjects. If there are more places available in these subjects, it stands to reason that you will get more students in those disciplines, especially from places like Jersey where (1) going to university is increasingly becoming the norm, (2) places are subsidised by the government, and (3) universities have an incentive to take on Channel Island students because they get more money in tuition fees for us.

As for self-funding, "art and culture" is not a public good (it is both excludable and rivalrous). There are, arguably, positive externalities (those attractive qualities of public life you describe.) I am not convinced, though, that a funding model controlled by politicians will ever be capable of providing as much benefit as it costs. I'm sure you're right, there will always be politicians eager to be generous with our money, but we shouldn't let them, and instead insist that they get out of the way.

On that note, isn't the case that any kind of public performance requires the permission of the Bailiff? Isn't that a bit mad?
"The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good, in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it." - John Stuart Mill

ole razzy

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Re: The Cultural Strategy 2005
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2009, 08:15:12 AM »

On that note, isn't the case that any kind of public performance requires the permission of the Bailiff? Isn't that a bit mad?

Used to be up until a few years ago but now promoters can stage events without 'kind permission' so long as they are not contentious i.e likely to offend. In conjunction with this change in principle a 'Bailiff's panel for good taste' (snnrrkk) was established to deal, at arms length with any contentious public entertainment issues. Perhaps not surprisingly the people that are invited to sit on that panel are, in the main with a few notable exceptions, very traditional, conservative, establishment types. So if you had a desire to say run a 'titty bar' you'd have a snowball in hell's chance of getting it through.

Nowadays the panel sit very infequently, the last time being for the 'Puppetry of the Penis' at the Opera House. The process, so I'm told, that triggers the panel to sit, is when a written complaint from a member of the public is recieved in advance of a performance. And so long as there is a strong methodist lobby and people like Bridget Murphy playing the Mary Whithouse ticket this methdology for dealing with issues of good taste is likely to remain.

Interestingly (for nightclub owners looking to open titty bars at least) the acceptance by the panel of 'Puppetry of the Penis' has set a precedent for what is acceptable in terms of public nudity. After all it would have to be a good lawyer who could argue that a woman dancing without her bra on to a table of four hedge fund managers was more dodgy than two men grossly contorting their genitals for the totlal amusement of 650 women in the Islands oldest and best loved theatre.

ole razzy

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Re: The Cultural Strategy 2005
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2009, 09:57:47 AM »
Most kind but I'm afraid that would require running for office on the culture ticket. Fat chance. Ouch big pay cut too. Even if you could swing it your way can you imagine the utter frustration and total boredom that one would have to endure as a States Member? You have to be pretty low voltage to endure the endless circular debates, the petty personality politics, the endless struggle to have ones voice heard in a chamber where mosts views are either entrenched or asleep. I would not need Jimmy Perchard to tell me what to do. And therin lies the rub. If a champion for culture is to be found and elevated to a respected and influential position then the structure that supports him or her must be outside of government at arms length.

The Jersey Foundations Law was passed in October 2008. Foundations have always been naturally associated with philanthropy and the arts. Is it time to abolish the expensive to run duel cost centre's of the Arts & Heritage Trust's and rationalise the administrative functions? Is it time to establish the Jersey Culture Foundation and to transfer all of the assests (buildings ect) into it? Is it not better to have a senior management group made up of professional's from the sector headed up by a respected and influential fundraiser with a strong understanding of the benefits of culture? Would it not be better to rid the Island of these management committee's of well meaning do gooders who pertain to have an interest in the arts but are little more then sunday painters? It would require statutory funding for the first 5 years to allow it to bed down and establish a totally professional fundrasing strategy. In such a wealthy Island how hard would it be?
« Last Edit: May 29, 2009, 10:18:07 AM by ole razzy »

ole razzy

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Re: The Cultural Strategy 2005
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2009, 03:36:08 PM »
For those more inclined to take a longer view on matters cultural I would reccomend you purchase a copy of Moving On - Theatre Matters, by local resident Sue Lissenden. Its just out!

The publication, which only has a very small print run, takes a highly critical look at the way the board of the Jersey Opera House (and Advocate Christopher Lakeman in particular) set about creating chaos in the day to day management of the theatre (and does so using actual email evidence and minutes from board meetings). It also reveals in all its ugliness the role that Education, Sport & Culture (in this case Ex senator Mike Vibert) played in totally undermining the moral of the staff and almost forcing the theatre to close.

If ever there was a better example of why politicians and well meaning (but often grossly in-experienced) members of the public
should be kept as far away as possible from things like galleries or theatres, it would be hard to find.

PM me if you'd like a copy. I think its only £10 and whether you like the arts or not it is a truly quite astonishing insight into the elitist world of Jersey arts and politics. And for the bloodthirsty it has some tragic casualties!

Et tu Brute?

Offline Dundee

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Re: The Cultural Strategy 2005
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2009, 02:58:30 PM »
http://www.gov.je/ESC/News/Councilforcultureconference.htm

Another conference but this time it will be discussing things that I feel we are actually achieving to some extent. It looks like people trying to tell us how to re invent the wheel and host a cultural event, this is what I thought Branchage has just down with some success, perhaps Jerseyt Heritage should try and concentrate on such events as they have the venues. That said I watched the "End of the Line" film at the museum and although I do not know whose fault it was the screen was naff split in three with tears patched with tape, and the air con was stuffy (or perhaps it was the pint I had before).

For my sins I will probably go, so maybe see you there Razz. Interesting I think last time I sat at a table with a collection of various reps from various groups and interests and we appeared to agree on what was needed, sadly little has changed or happened though.

Cheers


ole razzy

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Re: The Cultural Strategy 2005
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2009, 01:44:28 PM »
For my sins I will probably go, so maybe see you there Razz. Interesting I think last time I sat at a table with a collection of various reps from various groups and interests and we appeared to agree on what was needed, sadly little has changed or happened though.

Cheers

I could not bare to go. I think I would find it too annoying for words. Previous attendees have told me that they found it all mildly patronising. My feeling is that these current exercises in cultural deabte and public engagement are utterly futile and exist purely to keep officers employed and to tick the box on the departmenal business plan. This seems to be more about the department being able to report back (if asked) that they have delivered another objective rather then looking strategically at what, in a cultural sense, is in the best interests of the Island. If for one minute I honestly believed that there was even a slender chance that any of a culturally interested public's comments would be taken on board, planned, properly funded and professionally delivered then I would be up there like a shot. My personal experience of the department a few years back, certainly at officer level, is that there is a fundamental knowledge gap which actually prevents cultural development in the proper sense. On a political level the chasm is so great its impossible to see the other side.

Mick if you do go it would be good if you could do a post about it after the event. I'm sorry if I sound so cynical, I would love to feel engaged enough to commit to something like this but until there is politican in charge of culture who is brave enough to tear up the 2005 strategy and start again with something more exciting, more contemporary, and without a layer of the civil service on the gravy train then I'm gonna play Mr. stayathome.