The Politics of Inevitability and the Art Education

Photograph: ©JStadnicki, 2018

There is no way one can observe the social transformations within a community and society without resorting to strong political clues in order to understand the sources of those transformations. And clearly, when things go wrong, we blame the politics, the legislators, the government. But when the political sphere moves away from the reality of the working and the middle classes, the laws and the policies have no real impact on the wide majority. The decision-making groups have little will to support change and the economic downturn Britain has been experiencing for over a decade seems to move towards a silent collapse. And nobody appears to take responsibility. The blame placed on the government rules like a shadow, hiding underneath the roots of bad financial decisions, personal greed and managerial incompetence.

Let’s consider the situation the art sector is in at the moment.  The issue came into focus with the news of the devastating fire which, this second time, damaged the Glasgow School of Art beyond repair. There you have £35m down the drain, or rather turned to ashes, and everybody is powerlessly looking at the building asking, with disbelief, ‘how could this be possible’. The fate of the Glasgow School of Art seems, for now at least, sealed by confusion and uncertainty. Who is to blame this time?

Extrapolating the Glasgow tragedy, who is to blame for the uncertain fate of hundreds of art schools across the country slowly but surely decapitated by unachievable targets and percentages? We are looking at another type of devastating fire slowly cooking to ashes the art sector, in general, and the art education, in particular. The drive to achieve the funding targets, the attendance and the achievement rates, the literacy and the numeracy benchmarks. What do they all mean? Certainly, they mean nothing to those involved in the art sector (students, artists, writers, musicians, teachers) but mean everything to those in charge to justify the bureaucracy which supports their livelihoods and to satisfy the pleiades of regulators and inspectors. The focus of this type of education is not the youth’s creativity but to produce a nation of self-absorbed adults ready to slot into whatever social square has been allocated to them as soon as they joined the education system.

And here we face again another type of politics. The ‘politics of inevitability’ as Snyder eloquently describes it, which makes the art education vulnerable and a victim of the constantly expanding globalisation. Since the mid ‘80s, the way we talk about art has fundamentally changed as well as the way the education system works to serve the economy, under the bright colours of neoliberalism.  And, one would say, what is the problem with that? The education and the arts remain the essential social institutions within a healthy society and preserve what we call our ‘decency’. They remain our ‘sane barometer’ if you like, which support the configuration of our future and the values this future will act upon.

I remember a recent conversation I had with a head of school who recognised that things have taken a turn for the worse, with the Brexit uncertainty looming, but, as he said, ‘what can one do against a whole government, with a mortgage to pay?’ And here we are again in the blaming game equation. The well-suited head back in his leather chair, the young artist back revising for another maths test. New financial cuts are drowning the hope of an economic recovery and the silence of those suffering its effects sounds more and more like a resigned agreement. Not once we feel that the history allows us to see patterns and to understand that action is a possibility. History permits us, ‘to be responsible; not for everything, but for something’ as the poet Czeslaw Milosz said. This responsibility has always worked against loneliness and indifference.

©Maria Stadnicka, June 2018, Gloucestershire, UK

 

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You are cordially invited…19th May, 8pm, ‘Imperfect’ – book launch – published by Yew Tree Press, Stroud, Gloucestershire

New Event – Imperfect Book Launch

Poster design @John Stadnicki

Flash News – ‘Imperfect’ Book Launch – 19th May @Black Books Cafe, Stroud, 7.30pm

Front cover design: @Andrew Morrison

We had to stop the car several times.

Weeks of anxious waiting finally ended.

A new, small, wrinkled, bloody, placental book

Arrived.

It had a natural birth and I called it ‘Imperfect’.

The book launch will be on Friday 19th May 2017, at Black Books Cafe, Stroud. 7.30pm for 8pm start. Free entry.

The book is available for pre-order at mariastadnicka@yahoo.co.uk.

The evening will be a vibrant performance with poetry and music, featuring Maria Stadnicka, Adam Horovitz, Jay Ramsay, Katie McCue and ‘Souled and Healed’.

Yew Tree Press – Philip Rush

Design and printer – Andrew Morrison

The evening host – Jay Ramsay

Books, drinks, sounds will be available! Come along!

Thought

Tomorrow will come with a sunny spell,

the rain will stop at the border so

we will begin the long-waited rebellion,

as they say,

at the right moment.

 

To satisfy our need for greatness,

we will politely ask the just questions and

sit on the pew

in return for the hand-written answer.

 

We will finally go home,

or so we believe,

to master the only remedy left for pain – patience.

street-cafe-2

Photograph: @John Stadnicki, ‘Street Cafe’

Political Valentine, Music and Poetry

poster

Poster Design: RCM Creative

 

Stroud’s Politics Kitchen presents a musical experience showcasing a new and exciting political paradigm whose time has come – the Politics of the Heart. This is Politics that recognises that we have more in common than that which divides – a more intelligent, courageous and compassionate politics.

The event, on 11th February 2017 at 19.30 – The Subscription Rooms Stroud, features music from the sensational Bristol-based Spiro who are described as “World Music that speaks directly to the soul” – this is a truly unmissable event.

“This is soulful, passionate music, and I love it”, says Peter Gabriel, speaking of Spiro (see links below). If there were a ‘Stroud Sound’, Spiro would surely be it.

They are supported by Jennifer Maidman Music, stellar singer-songwriter and ex-member of the legendary Penguin Café Orchestra, 1984–2007.
Spiro are also supported by Hattie Briggs another wonderful singer-songwriter, inspired by the likes of Joni Mitchell and James Taylor Hattie recorded her debut album, ‘Red and Gold’ with Peter Waterman (Joss Stone/Uriah Heep/Emma Ballantine), as was her second album, ‘Young Runaway’, in 2016.

The event is supported by and features poetry readings with Gabriel Millar, Maria Stadnicka and JoJo Mehta.

Tickets available at Stroud Subscription Rooms: http://www.subscriptionrooms.org.uk/whats-on/politics-of-the-heart-with-spiro/

http://www.spiromusic.com/

http://jennifermaidman.weebly.com/

http://www.hattiebriggs.co.uk/

https://mariastadnicka.com/