Tag Archives: art

‘Go to the cinema’ says Johnson. Fool me twice, shame on… who?

Not the cinema announcement: but the caption behind Boris Johnson (that I made for a previous story) is also appropriate to this one.

I know it’s just a coincidence, but shortly after This Site published an article criticising the Johnson government for jeopardising the arts and entertainment in the UK during the Covid crisis, BoJob himself made a pronouncement about it.

He got it all wrong, of course.

Johnson should have announced financial help for venues and businesses – for the duration of the Covid crisis, while his restrictions make it impossible for them to break even, and in addition to any schemes already in place that clearly aren’t doing enough.*

You see, I’d rather be able to go to the pictures, even if the auditorium is practically empty by order of the government, than for the cinema to be closed – possibly for ever.

Instead, BoJob passed the buck to us – as usual.

“Go to the cinema,” he told us – just as he told us to go to the pub and the restaurant back in the summer.

And what happened?

There was a huge spike in Covid-19 infections and Johnson blamed us.

Fool us once, BoJob, shame on you. Fool us twice – shame on us.

What will you do if we go and there’s another increase in Covid infections? Blame us for your mistake again?

What will you do if we don’t, and lots of cinemas go out of business? Blame us again?

I think it’s best if we just ignore Johnson as an incompetent nincompoop and make a rule that any unhappy consequence is his concern, not ours.

Oh, and this will make it easier: the film he wants us to go and see? It’s the new James Bond, No Time To Die.

And its release has just been delayed until April next year.

And also: Cineworld is closing its 120 UK cinemas anyway.

So we can happily stay away for the time being, and still say we were following Johnson’s instructions.

And in the meantime, we can demand to know what he’s going to do about the economic crisis he caused.

Here are comments from just a few people who feel as I do:

*It seems this is unlikely to happen because Johnson and his government haven’t actually started any of these schemes. Here’s @RussInCheshire with The Week In Tory:

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Tory threat to our cinemas as their failure to cope with Covid hits entertainment industry

“Delayed AGAIN???” Daniel Craig wonders whether the new James Bond film, No Time To Die, will ever see cinema release.

I don’t want to have any “it’s not their fault” mewling over this.

Cineworld is not the only venue for the creative industries that is suffering as a result of the Johnson government’s failure to get a grip on Covid-19.

But while BoJob and his buddies funnel money hand over fist to their chums in fake firms, set up in a pretence at treating/preventing the disease, they’re letting our artists and entertainers go to the wall.

They’ll say it’s because they haven’t got a legal means of helping but I think they just want to end fun in our lifetime.

Cineworld is set to temporarily close its UK cinemas in the coming weeks.

The firm is writing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to say the industry is now “unviable”.

The firm says it has been hit by delays in the release of big-budget films, putting 5,500 jobs at risk.

The premiere of James Bond film No Time To Die has been postponed twice and is now due for release in April 2021.

Philippa Childs of entertainment and broadcasting union Bectu said: “The delay in the release of the Bond film along with the other delayed releases has plunged cinema into crisis.”

In a socially-distanced country, cinemas simply aren’t viable. Current guidelines mean operators should “organise seating to ensure two-metre distancing can be maintained; where two metres is not viable, one metre with risk mitigation is acceptable. Mitigations should be considered and those introduced set out in the risk assessment”. In Scotland, the two-metre rule must be maintained strictly.

That means only a handful of people can attend any auditorium at any time and it becomes unviable to employ the staff needed to run a venue.

It’s not often that I agree with this tweeter any more, but I’ll make an exception in this case:

Cineworld expects to make 5,500 staff unemployed while the 120-venue chain is closed – throwing them on the scant mercy of the Johnson government.

The hope is that they will be able to re-employ those members of their former staff who survive a winter of Covid-19 and the Tories’ harsh benefit conditions.

If that happens, I hope the company doesn’t take the easy – and very Tory – option of using this as an opportunity to cut staff pay and conditions. That would be a step too far.

Source: Cineworld to shut down UK screens after Bond film delay – BBC News

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Poor? Want to be an actor, artist, or work in culture? Forget it.

[Image: Getty Images.]

Careers in the arts and culture are perks for the rich from now on – as Christopher Eccleston warned, not so long ago.

The arts industry is suffering from a “class-shaped hole”, a Labour Party inquiry says.

The Acting Up report suggests the high audition costs for drama school is one of several factors deterring people from working class backgrounds from entering the arts.

It also recommends more school trips to the theatre to encourage young pupils.

The government said it was a “priority” to ensure everyone can take part in the arts and culture, including in schools.

Source: Arts suffering from ‘class-shaped hole’, Labour inquiry finds – BBC News


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Osborne wants to raid the Lottery and rob food banks to pay for his spending cuts


He has tried raiding tax credits and Universal Credit; he has considered cutting Housing Benefit. Now it seems George Osborne is planning to take money from charities to pay for his spending cuts.

It seems he wants to cut government funding for the arts (again!) and top it up with cash taken from the National Lottery.

The Lottery money is earmarked for charities, so they will lose out.

Isn’t it interesting that, back in 2010, David Cameron was looking to charities for help in providing services that spending cuts meant the Coalition Government would not be able to provide, as part of his white elephant ‘Big Society’ project?

Now it seems he’ll be rubber-stamping Osborne’s plan to wreck any such substitute provision.

Oh, and if the Big Lottery Fund takes a massive hit, guess what will be among the biggest losers?

Food banks.

Whitehall leaks show the Chancellor wants to nick £320million from the Big Lottery fund in Wednesday’s spending review, the Sunday People reports.

The money is earmarked for good causes, but Mr Osborne could get his hands on it by slashing Government arts spending.

Lottery money would then be diverted to compensate the Arts Council and other bodies for losing taxpayer cash.

Sir Stuart Etherington of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations said: “It would be hugely damaging to the lottery if players saw it as financing a government slush fund to compensate for spending cuts.”

Source: Keep your hands off our Lottery fund, cash-strapped charities tell George Osborne – Mirror Online

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Here’s a REAL Banksy painting about UKIP

Vox Political is indebted to a commenter (who will remain nameless) who wrote in after this blog published the modified Banksy picture commenting on UKIP.

The photograph was quickly revealed to be a Photoshopped version of ‘Lovesick’, in which hearts were issuing from the lady’s mouth. This Writer remains of the belief that the artist might not object to his work being adapted to present a satirical message.

But never mind that. Here is the real thing:

150418banksyonUKIP

According to our source, Banksy painted this in Clacton to coincide with the Carswell defection election last year.

It is worth pointing out that, shortly after receiving this image – and in response to the previous article, this blog received the following comment from a UKIP supporter: “All the other parties insist on handing the country my ancestors fought and died for to a bunch of sponging foreigners.”

They prove Banksy’s point for him.

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Banksy weighs in on UKIP

It seems Bristol’s greatest living artist has delivered a verdict on the UK Independence Party. Here it is:

150416banksyUKIP

It seems unlikely that the Fuhrage will approve…

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Art imitates life: Coalition ‘welf’ policies get comic-book treatment

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Judge Dredd: The Cop. Script by Al Ewing; art by Ben Willsher.

Sometimes, when you’re a blogger, an article comes along when you think you’re doing something else – for example, catching up on a little light reading.

Yes, even hard-nosed political bloggers like This Writer have to kick back and have a little ‘me’ time now and then – in this case, with the Judge Dredd Megazine, issue 356, dated February 17, 2015.

In the lead story ‘The Cop’, we see title character Judge Dredd’s domain – the Mega City One of a future North America – struggling to cope with the effects of a disaster. Already you can see parallels with the Great Recession of 2007 onwards.

Citizens are encouraged to help clear damage from buildings, making them usable again, in return for food rations. No effort – no food. This is actually described in the story as a ‘Work Programme’!

Then the story focuses in on “those adults who are unable to work”; one such person is thrust out of the line of workers by a classic bully-type character. Ordered to explain what’s going on, the character – clearly in bad shape, his body withered and weak – states that he has a condition in which half his body doesn’t function properly. He explains that he reported for ‘disability testing’ (a Work Capability Assessment).

“I waited six hours an’ then they told me to come down here!” the pitiful creature, named Carmody, explains. “Said if I could wait that long, it meant it couldn’t be that bad–”

Captions provide us with Judge Dredd’s reaction: “More than credible. He’s heard stories like it a thousand times.” How many times have we heard or read similar stories about so-called healthcare professionals and their assessments?

“Admin call it ‘creative bureaucracy‘ saving… by the cold application of red tape and the occasional Catch-22. In the current climate, ‘criminal negligence’ might be more appropriate.” In comics, you see, there’s no space for diplomacy or political correctness; they say what they see. Criminal negligence is as good a description of Coalition Government policy towards the sick and disabled as any This Writer has seen.

The Judge decides that the sick guy has a good case and makes provision for him to receive food anyway. What happens next is something that would make the right-wing press proud.

“HE’S FAKIN’ IT!” screams a man in the crowd. “I seen that guy yesterday pullin’ the same scam! He’s a fake!

The caption points out what we already know: “The accusation’s obviously false. Dredd doesn’t need a lie detector to know that. But the mob hears what it wants.” Another parallel with the UK of the present-day.

The result? Instant riot – put down with rubber bullets – for which the Mega-City always has enough money: “Maitland in accounts had … made the budget adjustments. Feeding the cits was all well and good, after all — but first things first.” Boris Johnson’s water cannon, anybody?

Getting back to Carmody – who’s been injured and is just about to be carted off in an ambulance – it turns out he recognised the man who started the riot: “Suh-sure. He tuh-tried to sell me… I dunno, he cuh-called it insurance.”

And haven’t we just learned that the Tories want to introduce private health insurance into British industry?

Back to the captions: “The cits are angry, resentful, looking for someone to blame— anybody will do. So whisper in the right ear— make an accusation at the right moment that some poor sap’s not pulling their weight— and you’ve got a whole city ready to do your legbreaking for you.” As the right-wing press have been working hard to demonstrate over the last few years.

scrounger

Of course, this works equally well with the ‘chequebook euthanasia’ argument that has been put forward in this blog. Whisper in the ear of someone who’s depressed that maybe they should take the easy way out; relieve the burden on their relatives/friends and the taxpayer – and they’ll probably top themselves while the balance of their mind is disturbed. Isn’t that right, Iain Duncan Smith?

“Meanwhile, your own hands stay clean– an incitement rap at the very worst. It’s some smart thinking, all right. Organisation thinking.”

Okay, in the story, the bad guys are known as ‘the Organisation’. It’s a comic-book. In the real world, they mean the Establishment; the neoliberals whose thinking informs the government’s. As this blog has noted previously, the government’s hands stay clean if an ESA claimant goes out and commits suicide after a Work Capability Assessment – at least, that’s how ministers would like us to see it. “An incitement rap at the very worst.”

And in the meantime, down goes the benefit bill.

The script for this mini-classic is by Al Ewing. It seems clear that, like another comic scriptwriter called Al – Alan Moore – he knows the score.

It’s one of the great things about the comics counter-culture. It isn’t monitored and censored anything like as heavily as mass cultures like TV.

So comics get to say what people really think.

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Art attack on Coalition policies that drive people to their deaths

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A UK artist has created an art installation as a memorial to the suicide victims of welfare reform.

Melanie Cutler contacted Vox Political regarding her piece – ‘Stewardship’ – a few weeks ago, asking, “Do you think I’ll be arrested?”

The response was that it should be unlikely if she informed the media. The artworks have been displayed at the Northampton Degree Show and are currently at the Free Range Exhibition at the Old Truman Brewery building in Brick Lane, London, which ends tomorrow (June 30).

Entry is free and the installation will be located in F Block, B5.

“I have become an artist later on in life,” Melanie told Vox Political. “I was a carer for my son and, a few decades later, my father. I have worked most of my life too, raising three children.

“Only recently, while studying fine art at University I found my health deteriorating. I have a cocktail of conditions – Type 1 diabetes (diagnosed last year), Coeliac disease, asthma, rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis (currently being investigated), osteoarthritis, psoriasis and a brain tumour (thankfully benign and inactive). I have also lived with depression for almost all my adult life.

“I wanted my work to articulate how I feel about certain issues. In March this year I pitched up in Thurrock, a marginal seat which will be hotly fought-over in the run-up to the next general election. I sat in front of a blank canvas and asked the people of the town to tell me how they felt about welfare reform, the press and the 2015 General Election. I took a team of people to film and photograph the event and to explain to people what the work was about.

'People of Thurrock' in the making. Artist Melanie Cutler sits, silenced, while residents of Thurrock write their opinions of 'welfare reform' on the canvas.

‘People of Thurrock’ in the making. Artist Melanie Cutler sits, silenced, while residents of Thurrock write their opinions of ‘welfare reform’ on the canvas.

“Buoyed on by the reaction to ‘People of Thurrock’, I went on to something else I felt was an important issue; I put welfare reform under the microscope and conducted research around this issue. I was struck by the amount of people who, through no fault of their own, seek to end their own lives as they feel they have no other option. My own family has been touched by suicide and one of my own children is on ESA and awaiting an interview with ATOS.”

'Stewardship': Each plaque features the name of a 'welfare reform' victim and a description of how they died.

‘Stewardship’: Each plaque features the name of a ‘welfare reform’ victim and a description of how they died.

'Stewardship': This memorial is to Paul Reekie, the Scottish poet and writer who took his own life in 2010. Letters left on his table stated that his Housing Benefit and Incapacity Benefit had been stopped. The poet's death led to the creation of the Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign in Defence of Disability Rights.

‘Stewardship’: This memorial is to Paul Reekie, the Scottish poet and writer who took his own life in 2010. Letters left on his table stated that his Housing Benefit and Incapacity Benefit had been stopped.
The poet’s death led to the creation of the Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign in Defence of Disability Rights.

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But is it art?

‘Herr Gunter Ground [not his real name], aged 41, mislaid the keys to his house and attempted to crawl in through the catflap. Unfortunately he got stuck halfway, and couldn’t get out again. A passing group of students then spotted him and decided to take advantage of the poor man. So they removed his trousers, painted his buttocks bright blue and stuck a daffodil in his bum, and erected a sign saying, “Germany resurgent, an essay in street art – please give generously.”

‘Passers-by were assured that Herr Ground’s screams were all part of the act and he remained stuck there for two days. He was only freed when an old woman called the police. “I kept shouting for help,” said Herr Ground, “but people kept saying, ‘very good, very clever’ and throwing coins at me.”‘

Hasn’t art become a cynical business? The example above is a bit extreme, but it does show how people are prepared to pay for all sorts of things if they show – not necessarily any kind of aesthetic beauty that is otherwise useless (all art is useless, according to Oscar Wilde) but that the artist is clever.

Look at Damien Hirst’s ‘Cow in Formaldehyde’. Lots of people have asked whether that is really art.

However, I’m not one to miss a bandwagon if I can get on it. Noting that Barry Humphries (otherwise known as Dame Edna Everage) has stolen a huge head start on me with his painting of yellow liquid in a pair of Wellingtons – ‘Pus in Boots’ – I have set about creating some artworks of my own.

I’m very proud of one image – an enormous, panoramic view of the starscape above a darkened British horizon, showing a night sky full of colourful nebulae, shooting stars, and other astronomical phenomena, over the shadowy silhouettes of a circle of vehicles, gathered around a couple in the act of physical affection. I call it ‘Dog Star’.

The idea doesn’t have to be saucy, though. Another one I had was of a warrant officer or petty officer in charge of a ship’s rigging, anchors, cables, and deck crew, directing them during a storm, so that only his nametag was visible. I’d call that one ‘Higgs the Bos’n’.

And just recently I thought of a very postmodern idea, of a British policeman accosting the late actor whose real name was Marion Morrison: ‘Constable’s Hey, Wayne’.

There’s only one thing stopping me from putting these ideas onto canvas – the fear that some credulous ‘art connoisseurs’ might actually buy them!

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