(We might even have finished drawing the logo by then)
There’s no shortage of money at Bristol City Council to fork out on another bloody cultural strategy EXPENSIVELY assembled by consultants from London.
This time around, the city’s current CULTURAL COMMISSAR, Labour Assistant Mayor Estella “Tinkerbell” Tincknell has called in the services of the UK’s “leading creative economy and cultural consultancy” at an undisclosed cost.
The Tom Fleming Consultancy, an “international consultancy” according to their own OVERBLOWN bullshit, have already produced an “Overview & Emergent Themes” paper for their grand plan: Bristol’s Cultural Futures. And what a treat it is.
From a ‘workshop-style intervention’ on how Bristol ‘does international’, which resulted “in a new thought leadership paper” (no, really, they are that up themselves) to “reinventing what it means to be in Bristol, to be Bristolian, and to be at once local and global,” no hackneyed phrase, jargon-riddled cliche or piece of pretentious old bollocks is TOO EMBARRASSING for The Tom Fleming Consultancy.
However the big idea is to become … Wait for it … “THE CITY OF COUNTER-CULTURE“! Forget May ’68; The Angry Brigade; Fat Freddy’s Cat; The Velvet Underground; The Situationist International; Naked Lunch, Ketamine or Crass, a new council funded Bristolian counter-culture of property agents called Nigel renting out shipping containers to public schoolboys so they can run a PUBLICLY SUBSIDISED start-up or street food outlet is on the way. No doubt accompanied by couple of hipsters with a banjo performing authentic indie folk pop in an overpriced coffee shop. Radical or wot?
Of course, we’ve been here before. In 2009 remarkably similar bollocks from the ‘Yellow Railroad International Destination Consultancy’ resulted in a POINTLESS £72k a year Place Making Manager at the council; a couple of street art events and an expensive JUNKET for the city’s self-styled cultural elite at Brasserie Blanc in Quakers Friars. All much criticised by the, then, opposition Labour Party.
This time around Tinkerbell has recruited such counter-cultural luminaries (from those centres of counter-culture West Bristol and er, Bath) as Dick Penny of the Watershed and Andrew Kelly “The Clown” from the Festival of Ideas on to a cultural steering group to deliver the new ‘vision’ and, no doubt, mop up any PUBLIC FUNDING for their organisations in the process.
So be sure to look out for a load of upper middle class cultural bollocks you don’t want and didn’t ask for being dumped on you soon so that the usual suspects can grab another large slice of public funds …
No sign of public sector cuts hitting the ridiculous HAPPY CITY organisation or their new-found creative industry friends at the WATERSHED. The organisations, both receiving healthy financial support from the council tax payer for their marginal activities, ran a course in January especially for the boss class called ‘Plotting a Happier Year Ahead’.
The course, promoting UTTER DRIVEL like ‘mindfulness in work’; ‘Embedding the 5 Ways of Wellbeing’; ‘Wellness programmes’ and ‘Leaveism’, delivered PSEUDO-SCIENTIFIC JUNK for stupid well-heeled bosses to bamboozle underpaid, overworked staff with. Many, no doubt, suffering at the sharp end of the collapse in real wages, the housing crisis, the country’s ongoing multiple economic disasters and its public service failures.
Is this really how we should be spending PUBLIC MONEY and resources when the council claim they’re so skint they’re cutting our LOCAL CRISIS AND PREVENTION FUND by 55% or over £1m? This fund was there to buy food or pay utility bills for the most desperate and vulnerable in the city. It might have also helped domestic violence survivors setting up home with NOTHING after escaping an abusive relationship.
What is the Rev Rees’s planning to do for these people instead of giving out small sums of money for essential items? Maybe he’ll get Happy City and a few self-styled creatives paid on the rates to provide battered mums with some ‘wellbeing perks and rewards’ at the Watershed?
Commentary on recent arts funding cuts – and who they really affect – from The BRISTOLIAN‘s Arts Correspondent…
Any of you readers ever venture into Bristol Old Vic? Watershed? Arnolfini? No? Didn’t think so.
Yet you, me and the rest of Bristol’s working class are expected to fund these artsy, fartsy PONCE HOLES every year through our Council Tax. Not a tenner here or a tenner there, but hundreds of thousands of pounds are given each year from our pockets to fund these unnecessary, unprofitable middle class cultural centres.
Meanwhile that smug prick the Mayor and his arse-licking councillors are more than happy to shut down libraries and day centres and cut back on essential services for Bristol’s pensioners and disabled.
According to them if the things we need don’t make a profit then they must be PRIVATISED OR CLOSED DOWN.
Working class culture is something that scares these arseholes. They don’t want large groups of Bristolians meeting up in case we
start sussing out what a con their capitalist system is and start doing something about it. So they are happy to shut down our pubs (for example, try and find a boozer in Knowle), raise ticket prices at the football, or unleash more riot cops in town of a weekend to drive us out.
They don’t want us going out talking to each other; they want us to work for them, fuck off home and slowly rot away watching moronic zombie TV. Then our rulers can sleep in peace with their profits, whilst the STREETS ARE EMPTY. Meanwhile we pay for fucking middle class arseholes called Rupert or Tristram to have a jolly good night out at the Old Vic, Wankershed or Analphoney. Well fuck that…it’s time to turn off the TV and go meet these privileged scum who we’re paying for.
If they won’t spread the wealth about equally, then maybe it’s about time we spread the violence about.
A rare outbreak of common sense last month from Labour’s Southville councillor SEAN ‘DADDY’S BOY’ BEYNON called for a ten per cent cut in the generous handouts for the city’s Key Arts Providers (KAP) as part of the city’s recent slash-and-burn budget.
Naturally there was an explosion of rage from the city’s wealthy and influential luvvie lobby at this small challenge to their large sense of entitlement.
The rage was mingled with disbelief at how anybody could question the overwhelming social value of stuff like the BRISTOL OLD VIC’s latest effort – a five hour, state-subsidised overblown theatrical production of an overwrought Victorian potboiler, Jane Eyre, organised by a Cambridge graduate with a terrible wardrobe!
Legendary local luvvie DICK ‘THE DISRUPTOR’ PENNY, soon waded in with some back-of-the- fag-packet calculations to “prove” that this kind of marginal nonsense is in fact an economic powerhouse for the city and that our luvvie legions are doing a selfless and remarkable job for the masses.
“Combined turnover of not for profit arts and museums organisations in the West of England last year was £55m,” huffed Penny, “and that’s a pretty major return on BCC investment.”
“And none of this takes into account the huge benefit to social cohesion, education, tourism and inward investment,” he puffed. Although he failed to produce a shred of evidence to back up his claims – and what the hell is “social cohesion” anyway?
What he also failed to explain is how this small cut, which would amount to just £100k, would have any effect whatsoever on an industry with a turnover of £55m. Are we meant to believe that a reduction of just one fifth of one per cent of its turnover is going to bring this industry to its knees?
Penny further neglected to point out that one organisation, WATERSHED, receives city council grants in excess of £300k in 2013, which, er … Pays his wages! He also neglected to point out that an increase of just one pound in cinema tickets for the very well-heeled ABC1 audience his venue attracts would make in the region of £100k a year!
So that’s what “social cohesion” is all about, then: the poorest directly subsidising elitist entertainment and the wages of the wealthiest.
Bristol City cultural supremo KELLY THE ELEPHANT gets two pages in the Observer today to blow his trumpet about his Festival of Ideas. Close scrutiny should be given to his selection of venues – Arnolfini, Watershed, Spike Island…. Devoid of any proletarian footfall and clustered round ‘Harbourside’……… Not a sausage for the south, north or east of the city where it is seemingly impossible for the elephant to find either venues or people interested in ‘ideas’. Oh god I’m sure he’s looked.