Signs of ‘Normal’ Life? A Moment of Interest

Signs of ‘Normal’ Life? A Moment of Interest

As we tentatively emerge from our third lockdown in the course of the strangest of years it is possible to glimpse the ways in which our cultural lives might be returning to some kind of ‘normal.’ For example in recent days, we have seen the first steps towards the return of audiences and participants at sporting and social events. Mark Selby lifted his fourth World Snooker Championship crown in front of a capacity crowd in Sheffield; football has been played in front of fans, V&A Dundee welcomed visitors back with an exploration of the relationship between club culture and design: Night Fever, Designing Club Culture and some of Liverpool’s clubbers were able to dance a night away while simultaneously providing an opportunity for policy advisors and policy makers to test the waters regarding wisdom of enabling us to emerge from lockdown and make a return to our former patterns of cultural and social engagement. In these events – and the managed return to co-proximity and co-presence that they signify – it’s possible to recognise and return to what can seem as a former life (though, Brighton Pride has been cancelled for the second year running demonstrating that the route back to ‘normality’ is not free of obstacles). (more…)

COVID ISLAND DIARY: Diary of a Pandemic.

COVID ISLAND DIARY: Diary of a Pandemic.

At the beginning of the Pandemic Lockdown period in March 2020, I began an online page – “Covid Island Diary”. I began to document and collate images, memes and political comment made by artists during the situation as it unfolded. I was extremely interested in the artist response to this immense world event. It became very clear, early on to everyone that as a society we rely heavily on artists every day. Designers, film makers, writers and musicians all helped to make an enforced lockdown at home more bearable for us all. (more…)

Post-Pandemic: The Cockroaches of the Cultural Sector

Post-Pandemic: The Cockroaches of the Cultural Sector

During the 1980’s and 90s, when social enterprise was an innovative concept in Scotland, Strathclyde Regional Council, Objective 3 Partnership and the Scottish Centre for Regeneration were surprised when Fablevision board members  thanked them for turning down applications for funding on the grounds that we were ‘not sustainable’.  Having funding bids rejected forced Fablevision artists, like most other creative practitioners, to develop other, entrepreneurial business models that would allow them to continue their practice without compromising their vision or values and we thanked them for forcing us to be independent. Over the ensuing decades, Fablevision inherited furniture from Strathclyde  Regional Council when they shut up shop; computer equipment from Objective 3 Partnership when they closed and co-created  learning materials on the demise of the Scottish Centre for Regeneration.  The ‘unsustainable’ small cultural social enterprise outlasted all the big beasts. Like other small cultural organisations, we were light on our feet – able to adapt and pivot creatively and meet the new requirements of whatever adverse social/economic/political circumstances presented. There is a joke in community based cultural practice that practitioners of these arts are like ‘cockroaches will be after the nuclear holocaust – they will be the only living things to survive’.    (more…)

The Creative Road to Recovery

The Creative Road to Recovery

I can’t quite believe it’s been a year since I took a seat at my dining room table and mastered the virtual meeting world to join Renfrewshire Leisure’s Arts Team for a vital discussion: what are the needs of the Creative and Cultural Sector in Renfrewshire?

Conversations of concern and despair from arts professionals across the team were the focal point. After discussions with local organisations, artists and seeing the impact the pandemic was having on the arts nationwide, it was clear – something radical had to be done and done quickly. We had to try and support the creative and cultural sector in Renfrewshire, giving local artists and organisations a chance to adapt, to recover, renew and to keep spirits up, raising hope through the arts, creativity, and culture. (more…)

#CCSEConversations: Conversations Archive

#CCSEConversations: Conversations Archive

At CCSE, we began our conversations series in the autumn of 2020. The seed for these discussions was planted at our virtual conference in May 2020. This event – Festivals, Events & COVID19 – was an opportunity to explore and discuss the impacts of the pandemic across on aspects of arts and cultural praxis. At CCSE we were keen to find a way to continue these discussions, and to provide a platform for ongoing consideration and discussion of the ways in which the pandemic could and would change the ways that we approach and experience arts, culture, sports and aspects of travel and tourism that insect with the areas of interest for CCSE. (more…)

Review of the Year so Far: A View from Our Blog

Review of the Year so Far: A View from Our Blog

As Easter approaches and as we enter the second spring in which the restrictions brought about by the onset and continuation of the COVID19 pandemic, it is interesting take a moment of pause to reflect on the activities undertaken and progress made at CCSE.

Though the majority of colleagues active within CCSE have now been working from home for a year, through the Centre they have nevertheless continued their active engagement in areas of research, practice, policy and study that are of principle importance for CCSE’s remit. Furthermore, much of the activity undertaken has been recorded in posts to our weekly blog. (more…)

Live FM: Fan Monitor:  Analysis of attitudes and behavioural trends of music fans in Germany and Scotland during the Covid-19 pandemic

Live FM: Fan Monitor: Analysis of attitudes and behavioural trends of music fans in Germany and Scotland during the Covid-19 pandemic

Through the Centre for Culture, Sport and Events, UWS collaborated with The University of Applied Sciences in Bonn to conduct the first report of the Live FM: Fan Monitor. It is the result of a collaboration with Francisco Tigre Moura and Prof. Dr. Damian Leschik (IUBH University of Applied Sciences), Sandro Carnicelli (University of the West of Scotland), Gayle McPherson (University of the West of Scotland) and Dr Emma Reid (University of the West of Scotland) to develop and share research of the live music sector during the pandemic. (more…)

Paisley Book Festival Goes Digital

Paisley Book Festival Goes Digital

Following a successful and exhilarating first festival in February 2020, this year’s digital edition of Paisley Book Festival had to adapt quickly to fast changing circumstances. Looking back now, it’s hard to believe that last year’s event was staged in entirely normal circumstances, when just a few weeks later we were plunged into lockdown. The months that followed were a rollercoaster of uncertainty that would alter our perceptions of what a festival like this could and should be. (more…)

Whose Festival is it Anyway?

Whose Festival is it Anyway?

I was invited to contribute to a conference organised by The Cockburn Association titled ‘Whose Festival is it Anyway’ on Saturday 31st January. The conference featured panels exploring Edinburgh’s Festivals – past, present and future. I participated in a panel chaired by well-known broadcaster, Stephen Jardine, focused on Cultural Tourism and the Festivals: What will be the ‘new normal’? The panel discussion can be accessed on the Cockburn Association’s YouTube channel. This conference built on a large public meeting held in January 2020, City for Sale? The Commodification of Edinburgh’s Public Spaces which I also spoke at. The theme of festivals, public space and the city is the focus of a large research project, Festspace, that I lead, which is funded by the Humanities in the European Area (HERA). (more…)

Welcome To The “Lockdown Lounge”

Welcome To The “Lockdown Lounge”

In late March 2020 I watched with disbelief as my diary of project meetings, stock deliveries and workshops was wiped as the corona virus pandemic hit, leaving me wondering what next for my small business?

I’ve worked hard over the past five years to establish Gatekeeper Art with two main strands of business, as a selling artist and as a social historian delivering community heritage projects.

Following the initial clearing of my diary I salvaged some of the workshops in the projects I was working on then and adapted them to an online format and thus I was introduced to the wonderful world of “Zoom”. This is a new world for me and I have to admit to being both terrified and excited at the prospect of online delivery but willing to take on the challenge of a steep learning curve! (more…)