Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Honest and Loathsome

Admirably frank: the marketing campaign for a host of new 'One and Two Bedroom Luxuary Appartments'. Elsewhere they riff off i-pod, i-life and pun with island, to suggest that once you are secure in your own little world, everyone else can ***k off.


Friday, February 22, 2008



Pyramidal piles of envelopes on the office floor hold the clue to Craig’s absence from Day 2 and much of Day 3 on Dance Steps. There’s another City Adventure in the offing. It’s possibly two years since the last Birmingham version and in the interim yet more of our favourite landmarks have been demolished, forcing Craig to be inventive with the tasks.

The City Adventures are informally known as Risk Days. One of the calculations we are forced to make is how ‘Risky’ to make them. A favourite task is the Origami Challenge, we normally locate this in a secluded corner of a library. The quandary, as with many tasks, is whether to ask the ‘host’ venue for their permission. On this occasion, following an incident when a host of participants asked a librarian for directions to the event rather than just following their instructions, Craig thought it best to gain permission. Of course asking permission to do something introduces the possibility of permission to be declined, which it was.

A new venue has been found but this exasperating caution on the part of individuals within institutions is stifling and put me in mind of an incident I recently observed in Birmingham’s indoor markets where a security guard was walking round all the stalls taking down the posters advertising shows and gigs at local theatres and concert venues. When challenged by a stall holder he explained “you’re not allowed to advertise”.

Too often we hear that “Political Correctness” has gone mad, but mostly it seems to me it is “The Market” that has gone mad. Litigators hound us to use them to sue the library if someone gets a paper cut folding origami in any activity even vaguely sanctioned by them. Anything in our eye-line or ear-shot can be bought to try and sell us things, but only if it is bought.

My antidote to all this that would send me mad is standing outdoors, under a clear sky, ‘Being In The World’.



Dance Steps Days 2 & 3

On Thursday Simon and I ventured to the wilds of Warstock on the Number 2 bus to find Baker Ward and talk about adhesive Vinyl. We emerged with a mini swatch of colour and an end of roll off cut. The good news was that the vinyl is easy to cut, easy to apply, appears to adhere to most surfaces and can be peeled up an re-applied if you stuff things up the first time. This is all good news as Dance Steps is entirely predicated on adhering vinyl all over MAC.

Today Simon and I grafted away learning, through discussion and trial and error how the language of the show works. We plotted out the detail of five scenes and are very happy with how things are going.




Thursday, February 21, 2008


Stan's Cafe – Open Space

Wednesday was a great day. A fine cross-section of the Stan community gathered, under the quiet guidance of Nick S., to use Open Space Technology to address the question: Stan’s Cafe: How Do We Build On Our Success?

The Open Space technique is an extraordinarily simple and effective way to address, to address, well to address whatever anyone thinks needs addressing. In this case things like What’s Stan’s Cafe For? Why do education work? Should the Office have a carpet?

It was brilliant seeing everyone get stuck into moving the company on to the next stage. The atmosphere was very focused and positive. We’re only just starting to pick over the notes, but already it’s clear that a host of inspiring ideas were thrown up. Now we have to make sure we turn those words into action.



Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Dance Steps: Day 1

On Tuesday Simon, Craig and I gathered at MAC for the first full days work together on Dance Steps, an installation commissioned for the venue’s last week of operation before closure for a major redevelopment.

It was fantastic to be getting down to some serious making of art again. By the end of the day things had been pulled round so much that I was excited by the show all over again. This may sound daft but a familiar trajectory is that the excitement of a project’s conception starts to fall off once the prospect of actually making the thing starts to become a reality. Shifting thinking to a more practical basis serves to uncover all the flaws and impracticalities. This mild terror and panic is then only dispelled on days like Tuesday, when the dedicated thinking starts and solutions start to emerge and the excitement builds again.

Dance Steps opens at MAC 31st March and runs until MAC closes on 6th April



Monday, February 04, 2008


The Haves, Have Nots and Have A Lots.

On Friday the letter arrived confirming the Arts Council’s increased funding offer. This welcome news prompted a trip to the Arts Council’s website and, eventually, a somewhat sordid session trawling through PDFs listing every Regularly Funded Organisation and how much they get.

I hate it when people spend more time talking about money than art, but nonetheless I found the lists compulsive; “who are they?”, “I didn’t realise they are based there”, “they get how much!”, “I’d have thought they would be on more”, “they must do stuff we never hear about”, “they’re still with us are they!“, “oh no, they’re not on the list”, “running a dance company must be expensive”, “you’d imagine £26,961,420 would be enough to run an opera house”, “we’ve got to make sure we really make the most of this and never get complacent”.



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