Today I was invited to the launch of Birmingham’s “Creative City” initiative. A light buffet had been laid on but I knew it would be bad to eat any of it. Half-jokingly I told people I was boycotting it.
Andy Street, Chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership gave a turbo-charged speech in which he claimed that the Creative Industries are core to the LEP’s mission to create 100,000 new jobs.
Ed Vaizey, The Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, launching Catalyst, smoothly managed to suggest that in the Cultural Sector we’ve not been good at asking for money in the correct way from the private sector and when we’ve got it that we haven’t been very good at saying “thank you”.
Laura Dyer from Arts Council England told us that Arts Organisations needed to become “sustainable and resilient businesses”.
Councillor Timothy Huxtable, Cabinet Member for Transport, Environment that reminded us of the Big City Plan, described HS2 as a ‘game changer’ and made the error of name-checking Stan’s Cafe amongst cultural organisations acting as ‘drivers for the future’.
The Councillor’s error – or rather that of his speech writer – was political not factual. His problem was that throughout the backslapping, trumpet blowing, Creative Industry eulogising event a vast elephant was wandering into the room with a nude Emperor on his back. By name-checking Stan’s Cafe he gave me permission to stand up and ask the obvious unasked question: “Thank you for the name check, please could you explain why, if you value us so highly, are you cutting our £10,000 revenue funding by 100%?”
After thanking me for the question (cue laughter), the Councillor explained how superfast broadband was going to help us out. To be honest I didn’t follow his logic but that was probably me being slow. Fortunately Councillor Mullaney came to my aid, gamely explaining how things were much better for us all than they had been before our funding got wiped out. Now it all made sense.
There seem to be two ways of playing this political game: The James Yarker way (clambering out of the trenches, shouting “charge” and bodysurfing the barbed wire) or the Jonathan Watkins way (curating art for the Tory Party Conference). Well, time will tell whose tactics are more effective.
That may sound like I’m slagging Jonathan off, but I’m not at all. He has a much bigger project going on than I ever will and is a far shrewder operator than I ever could be. I admire him from afar. The plans for Ikon 2 look impressive.
I should probably have kept my mouth shut, but I blame Pete Ashton for egging me on. If you want to hear the various speeches that I so brutally summarised Chris Unitt recorded them and has them for your listening incredulity at Created In Birmingham along with the local politician’s attempts to answer my simple question.
It is now clear why it was right not to eat any of that buffet; for, once you have accepted food from someone it then becomes very discourteous to punch them in the face – even metaphorically. I threw the punch went to the markets and bought fish instead.