Forget bread and circuses… we have adult colouring books.
It’s time to stop playing with our colouring books and start joining the dots folks.
If I may, I would like to suggest that we get the cultural leaders we deserve. We have acquiesced to the notion of a representative democracy in cultural matters and our leaders tell us what is and isn’t culture and what is or isn’t ‘good’ or ‘quality’ or of ‘value.’ And we buy it. Which is actually all they want from us – compliant consumers in an aspirational society which fundamentally favours those at the top of the heap.
Education is a case in point. I question why it is that our much vaunted education system is only ‘free’ to the undergraduate level. Beyond that it’s pay to play. Why is this? This is a practical exercise in joining the dots, folks. Could it be that we only want people to be educated to a certain level? Beyond that, education is an elitist privilege, and guess what, these same people are the ones who speak with authority on culture. They tell us what it is, what it means and we go along with them. By contrast in Cuba, free tertiary education goes as far as the individual wants and is capable of.
Are we frightened of having an ‘overskilled’ workforce? Can you have an overskilled society? Surely both in the hard and the soft subject areas (what a nasty terminology) people who are fulfilling their potential will be able on the one hand to innovate and create in science, technology and the like and on the other to innovate and create in our society which, in case you hadn’t looked up from your colouring book lately, is somewhat failing to deliver for ‘real’ people. Imagine a society where people whose minds have been honed to the highest level in philosophy, psychology, literature and the like are able to utilise the skills they learn from reading, thinking, writing about the world we live in and how we might make it a better place to live in for more people.
We all too often mistake confidence for competence. This is perhaps an inevitable result of a very broken, very divided, very hierarchical society.
So, our leaders (and there are many of them) are keen to keep us in our place. They don’t make it easy for us ‘wee voices’ to contribute, to comment or to participate except on their own terms. If we are lucky we can experience tokenism, but they spit us out as soon as we’ve served our purposes. They make the rules, they don’t want us to join the dots, they just want us to colour between the lines. But we don’t do ourselves any favours. I’ve lost count of the number of times and ways I’ve given this basic argument and suggested that we ‘rise up’ against this tyranny. The answer? Cannae be arsed? What’s the point? The point, friends, is that until we reclaim our culture there is no way we will regain our independence. And I’m afraid I’m coming to the conclusion that we don’t deserve it.
What’s started all this? I came across this 'invitation'....
The Scottish Government is seeking to appoint a new Chair to lead Creative Scotland in the delivery of the ambitions set out in its 10 Year Plan to the benefit of the arts and culture in Scotland.
Can you help put creativity at the heart of Scottish society?
Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works, studies or visits here. The organisation distributes funding from the Scottish Government and the National Lottery with an annual budget of around £80m and a staff team of more than 100 people.
The Scottish Government is seeking to appoint a new Chair to lead Creative Scotland in the delivery of the ambitions set out in its 10 Year Plan to the benefit of the arts and culture and to the people of Scotland as a whole. The current chair, Ben Thomson, took over on an interim basis following the death the previous incumbent, Richard Findlay.
We are seeking to appoint a dynamic and adaptive leader with proven experience at senior level, who will lead the Board and work effectively with the Chief Executive, Janet Archer, her leadership team and her team of dedicated, committed and experienced staff.
The Chair will help steer the strategic direction of the organisation, overseeing its effective governance, financial accountability and its delivery of value as a public body, in line with Scottish Government and Ministerial priorities. The successful candidate must be a highly effective collaborator, influencer and communicator, positively representing Creative Scotland in public and in the media. Importantly, he or she must have passion for, and understanding of, creativity and the value it delivers to all our lives culturally, socially and economically.
This is a high profile position in Scottish public life and one where there is an opportunity to make a significant and positive difference to Scotland’s creative life, society and economy. As such, we encourage applications from individuals who feel they have the knowledge, experience, energy and dynamism to successfully fulfil the demands of the role.
You must be able to demonstrate the following personal qualities, skills and experience:
Passion for, and knowledge and understanding of, the arts, screen and creative industries in a Scottish context.
The capacity to work effectively across sectors, beyond the boundaries of arts, screen and creative industries.
Managing performance and governance.
Leading the Board and organisation.
The selection panel welcomes applications from people with experience in the arts, screen or creative industries.
I feel like calling that ‘you’ll have had your mince.’ Like beauty, I suggest that many of these ‘criteria’ are in the eyes of the beholder. Personal experience suggests that you either favour the policy or the creativity. And I know which will be ‘privileged’ in this respect. The only thing left for us to do (apart from going back to our colouring books) is the start a book on who the runners and riders are and which of them will get the job. Will this be another imperialist appointment? Do we have any Scots who are ‘up to’ this job or even any who are ‘up for’ this job? And if not, why not? We certainly don’t have any who can organise a cultural consultation that stretches beyond ‘the usual suspects’ even with the might of social media at their command. But do we hold them to account? Aye, right.
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