‘Cause I mean maybe the world would be better if we were all just uncreative drones,
No dead childhood dreams to haunt us, a decent job, a decent home,
And if we have some extra time we could do real things to promote peace,
Become scientists or history teachers or un-corrupt police at least’
Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror, Jeffrey Lewis
I’ll say one thing about me, I’ve got a fucking rad group of friends. And when I talk about my peer group, I do so with the highest respect. We are the stupidly intelligent, talented young upstarts. We’ve got ability, ideas and passion and drive.
What we lack is experience.
And right now, that seems to be a pretty big ‘lack’. As funding cuts in HE and the arts and the public sector loom, organisations and institutions which were never that keen on taking a risk, batten down the hatches and stick to what they know. So where’s the space for the individuals who challenge, who ask awkward questions, who push things to their limit and who demand things are better and different? Where is our fucking space? The institutions and professions we work in pay lipservice to diversity and the importance of fresh ideas, so why is it that amidst my peer group we are losing out, time and time again to the safe bet, to the more experienced, if dull candidates? If no one is willing to take a risk on us, give us a shot in these positions of power, how are we to make the impact on the world which we so desire?
The conclusion I’m coming to, isn’t a new one. But maybe we need to go back to our roots. If the world doesn’t have space for you, you just have to make it. The work, ideas and practice which have most inspired and provoked me have never been part of the arts establishment. Coming from a DIY feminist community I take inspiration from Radar and Sister Spit, Rock n Roll Camp for Girls and Ladyfests . Artists like Fugazi, Bikini Kill and Amanda Palmer -individuals and communities who saw a need for something and realised no one was going to make it happen for them.
We can make changes in institutions of power, but we must never forget that they will be reluctant to let us. It will take a long time, we will be frustrated, resisted and denied opportunity. Don’t let yr day job become yr life. Artistic innovation, community, creativity, political activity can and must be able to survive independently.