Learning the Sharing from Sheffield

Tying in rather neatly with the do it like Manchester debate comes this article by one of our ex-Poet Laureates, Roshan Doug, about what we can learn from Sheffield, hosts last month of the prestigious Bollywood Awards run by the International Indian Film Association. Here are some excerpts from How Brum missed out on Bollywood:

The answer is quite straightforward and, incidentally, also the reason why Birmingham wasn’t successful in its Capital of Culture bid two or three years ago: it’s all to do with the distinct lack of communication between various factions within the cultural arts world in our city. Birmingham is missing co-ordination, co-operation and a proper, well-defined, campaign. At the moment arts groups and key players exist almost in isolation and not in harmony or in collaboration with one another for the advancement of our city or the greater good.

Competition for arts funding has been rife and the rivalry between one organisation and another means there is a great deal of secrecy which inadvertently perpetuates a closed door policy. No one really knows what the other is doing or planning, which might be good for the furthering of management careers of key players but it does very little for the city as a whole.

Take another example: the Artsfest of which our Council is, supposedly, so proud. As a matter of principle it seems no artist taking part gets paid for his/her time and effort. And yet inexperienced and at times, incompetent, organisers – employed by the city’s great and the good – responsible for the administration, are paid. It’s absurd as far as I’m concerned. But such is the jaundiced way in which our leaders think. And yet, for years the Artsfest has been featured in council literature as one of the main cultural events in our city’s calendar. It’s pure lip-service.

He concludes:

I suggest our arts leaders, both in the public and private sectors, stop being so lame and ineffectual. Instead I would urge them to learn from Sheffield and start using, what they would regard as dirty, c-words – coordination, cooperation and campaign.

Do read the whole piece as I’ve only snipped bits out of some context.

Going back to the Manchester thread I again want to quote Rhonda Wilson’s comment:

Its that sharing thing. Here everyone wants to own things so they prevent other people doing their thing. There people got it – one thing that everyone has a share of and some trust in the directors. And look at what’s happened. Let’s leave this antiquated idea about power and control behind us and work on some things together. Then we all might benefit.

Co-oporation. Sharing. These things are common sense to me, but then I come from a fanzine and internet background where sharing without expectation of reward is accepted as essential. And I think, from my experience, that sharing already goes on at a grassroots level in this city. It’s the lifeblood of artistic expression whereby people come together to share ideas and resources for the greater good. Applying this to a how the arts are co-ordinated and marketed can’t be that hard, right?

Or maybe out political and financial leaders just don’t get the sharing thing.

Roshan Doug link courtesy of D’log, reading the Post so I don’t have to…

One Comment

  1. One might even suspect that this attitude is due to the long history of the make-up and re-invention of the city’s class of “movers and shakers”. It’s as if the individualist free-market “give it a go” streak from the Victorian and Edwardian “city of a thousand trades”, became strained through (and soured by) the later experiments in municipal socialism, in the context of a fast-eroding industrial base. Competiveness fed into a “divide and rule” clientist squabble, grabbing for crumbs from the municipal pot. Just a thought.

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