Time To Transform?
PublishedJanuary 22, 2015 CategoryArts Social Action

Time To Transform?

Christine Elliott is a co-founder and close ally of Arts Social Action and – as Chief Executive of the Institute for Turnaround in London- is obliged to keep a close, professional eye on key developments affecting our social and economic environments.

Since 2015 is also a watershed year for Arts Social Action’s own key themes – of Climate Change and Inequality – we’re very happy that she has agreed to share with us some of the insights from her 2014/15 report to IFT members, published in the ‘Swift’ house journal for January 2015. Continue Reading »

Je suis Charlie? Living the Message
PublishedJanuary 8, 2015 CategoryArts Social Action

Je suis Charlie? Living the Message

Yesterday’s carnage in a quiet newspaper office in Paris has instantaneously shocked and aroused a world in danger of being numbed and anaesthetised by an escalating frequency of atrocity and impassioned rage around us.

Helped, more than hindered, by the poorly-judged ‘anti-terrorism’ fixations of the post-9/11 West, the battle grounds have moved progressively into the streets of our cities; and yesterday reached into the weekly editorial meeting of a no-doubt noisy, outrageously witty and creatively excited group of artists and journalists, provocatively armed with pens and coloured crayons. Continue Reading »

Theatre in Action and the Moral Limits of Markets

As forecast in an earlier blog (‘Royal Court Theatre Takes on Climate Change’ 13th November) we were quick to follow up Guardian theatre critic Michael Billington’s recommendation of the Royal Court’s ‘2071’ dramatic initiative and it proved well worthy of a visit.

Here, out of a creative collaboration with dramatist Duncan Macmillan, was a distinguished scientist , Chris Rapley – Professor of Climate Science at University College, London – delivering a moving, highly credible but totally non-histrionic soliloquy on where we are at on this most threatening issue of our times. Continue Reading »

Royal Court Theatre Takes On Climate Change
PublishedNovember 13, 2014 CategoryArts Social Action

Royal Court Theatre Takes On Climate Change

It seems many moons ago (“Silent Springs and the Autumn of Creativity”, Poetry Matters, October 2012) since Arts Social Action first invoked Rachel Carson’s 1962 classic as a particular and necessary call-to-action on climate change for those of us who work in, or around, or aspire to the world of the arts.

Our conclusion was that ‘Silent Spring’ was much more than a plea to save nature and our birds; it was a plea to save our culture, arts, science – ultimately ourselves. Continue Reading »

Doomsday Pessimism Won’t Help Tackle Climate Change Threat…

THE GUARDIAN Thursday 13 November 2014

Dear Editor,

I congratulate Paul Kingsnorth on the literary award for his innovative novel The Wake (A novel approach to the use of Old English, 10 November), but seriously question his environmental activism.

Kingsnorth’s Dark Mountain project, described as “a network of artists, writers and thinkers who basically see the world as being doomed – ecologically and economically”, is hardly the message we need to hear in the week following the 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change setting out the challenging, but achievable, targets for control of carbon release and temperature rise; in fact, for our Earth’s survival.

Continue Reading »
Endangered Earth: Ignorance, Indifference or Fear?

Go, go go, said the bird; human kind Cannot bear too much reality’
T S Eliot, ‘Burnt Norton
Give me somewhere to stand, and I will move the earth
Archimedes, 287-212 BC

Opening my newspaper on a recent Sunday morning, there were problems for the Labour Party in Scotland, the Prime Minister was breathing hell-fire at the European Union; unknown (to me) celebrities indulging their mid-life crises; ubiquitous bankers pleading that their bonuses be not capped at a mere 100% of salary – all those customary trivia and nitty-gritties of our ‘advanced’ 21st century, market-economy-driven lives. Continue Reading »

World Climate March
PublishedSeptember 18, 2014 CategoryArts Social Action

World Climate March

The signs are that, on 21st September, unprecedented numbers of people will march for decisive Action on Climate Change in New York, London and over 2800 locations world wide.

Arts and Social Action will be there, on both sides of the Atlantic, and we urge our brothers and sisters , individually and in arts communities across the world, to take part, stand up to be counted, on this most pressing issue of our times.

We have commented before on the significance of Rachel Carson’s 1962 ‘SilentSpring ’ – now over 50 years old – for the first stirrings of a world ecological movement; and suggested the special sensitivities and obligations which it implies for us in the world of arts. Continue Reading »

Death and Resurrection of the Business/Market Model

‘If you want to understand the banking crisis, you should go to the theatre’

– The Independent. October 2009

15 September 2008 was quick to join that short list of cataclysmic dates which, like 9/11 or the Kennedy assassinations, now invoke the question ‘where were you on ….’. That was the date, triggered by the sudden bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in the US, when a massive domino collapse of prominent banks in the US and Europe led their gobsmacked Governments into costly public rescues and frenetic infusions of capital and liquidity. Continue Reading »

Seamus Heaney: Poet of Spade and Pen
PublishedSeptember 18, 2013 CategoryArts Social Action

Seamus Heaney: Poet of Spade and Pen

Among the many wonders of the world
Where is the equal of this creature, man?

…Nothing seems beyond him, except death.
Death he can defy but not defeat .

Seamus Heaney
‘The Burial at Thebes’ 2004

A quiet, slightly stunned sense of grief has characterised the public reaction to the going of our consummate poet Seamus Heaney. As usual, the media and celebrity hagiographers were quick off the mark, but the sad excesses which harrowed Yeats, Frost and other high profile public poets to their graves have been, thankfully, relatively muted. Continue Reading »

The Search for Public Intellectuals: Should Poets Apply?

Citing ‘La Trahison des Clercs‘ (‘The Treason of the Scholars’Julien Benda, 1927)  George Monbiot recently raised some important questions about the need for ‘a disinterested class of intellectuals which acts as a counter to prevailing mores’ (If scholars sell out, where’s the moral check on power ?’ Guardian 14 May, 2013).

His immediate worry was the progressive ‘sell-out’ to powerful corporate sponsors of supposed ‘public’ facilities such as the Centre for Science and Policy at Cambridge University (BAE Systems, BP, Lloyds etc); or Oxford’s new ‘Shell’ geoscience laboratory, part-mandated to help find and develop still more sources of fossil fuels – which attention to society’s broader needs might put in question. Continue Reading »