blindly optimistic…?

by Katie Anderson

Today was a full on day of aspirational talk at the CS Open in Dumfries.

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Plenty of blue sky thinking was done today

A few things really stuck out:

In particular the optimism of D&G folk really stuck out – the belief that it IS possible, we CAN bring beautiful and exciting arts projects to the regions, and share new experiences with the rest of our region. That there is (and should be) life beyond the Central Belt was a point that re-appeared time and time again. Notions of periphery, geographical (or otherwise) isolation, in a largely rural country but where decision making comes from our urban centres seems to clash, at least a little.

Language. When is one type appropriate over another? How do we dictate the language we use, and how does this help or hinder the arguement? As a graduate, I’m quick to admit how artspeak focuses my own work – and although I do believe there are times when artspeak is not appropriate – I feel ‘specialised vocabularly’ is all a part of the learning process and somehow integral to the learning process. However this seemed to be viewed as somewhat snobbish (at least by my table esp. the amateur art advocates), and I don’t know where I stand at this one yet… The guardian is currently taking a stance on artspeak check out one of their articles here – don’t think I’m this bad yet though!

Culture. Define.

“noun

  1. the total of the inherited ideas, beliefs, values, and knowledge, which constitute the shared bases of social action
  2. the total range of activities and ideas of a group of people with shared traditions, which are transmitted and reinforced by members of the group ⇒ the Mayan culture
  3. a particular civilization at a particular period
  4. the artistic and social pursuits, expression, and tastes valued by a society or class, as in the arts, manners, dress, etc
  5. the enlightenment or refinement resulting from these pursuits
  6. the attitudes, feelings, values, and behaviour that characterize and inform society as a whole or any social group within it ⇒ yob culture
  7. the cultivation of plants, esp by scientific methods designed to improve stock or to produce new ones
  8. (stockbreeding) the rearing and breeding of animals, esp with a view to improving the strain
  9. the act or practice of tilling or cultivating the soil
  10. (biology)
    1. the experimental growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, in a nutrient substance (culture medium), usually under controlled conditions See also culture medium
    2. a group of microorganisms grown in this way”

(Collins dictionary – if you’re interested)

I am aware I use the word culture to mean everything, and after today clearly, so does everyone else. Art seems to form part of a much larger part of life – it’s more multi-disciplinary, and there’s more cross-contamination between life, art and everything else. In this way, identifying Creative Scotland’s ‘role’ is more difficult when defining it’s main focus has such soft focused edges. We want more risk-taking, less playing-it-safe, more ambitious and more outward looking.

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This is not about the individual (artist or funder) but about the collective identity of a whole arts community. It feels like there is a lot at stake here, but also I suspect – regardless of how it pans out, these highly ambitious, focused artists and art-types would not let these sort of things get in their way. The drive will always come from the grassroots upwards, and these people seem far too driven to let the ultimate outcome of CS’ stooshie from dreaming and achieving.

I feel quite inspired. Hopefully Creative Scotland does too.

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