Its been a day of celebration – first up in the Bargehouse we celebrated the announcement of the £5.4 million twelve Artist Taking the Lead commissions for London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and then I headed up to Manchester to see Eastern based company 30bird perform Plastic at the beautiful Victoria Baths (its an extraordinary piece, visually stunning – if you know anyone in Manchester do encourage them to see it!
As chair of the ATL panel in the East I always knew that whatever decision we made was going to be controversial – and viewing the comments on the <a href="( )”>ATL message board has shown this to be the case
Many of the comments are very direct – and so here is my personal response:-
I am immensely proud of the decision of the panel – as a previous blog post mentions this was not a decision we took lightly – and it took many hours of discussion, debate, reading, listening and thinking.
I am hugely excited by On Landguard Point and I passionately believe it does have a WOW factor. Big idea after big idea culminate in a community feature film. Its a truly original set of concepts which I believe will absolutly celebrate 2012, leave a conderable legacy, will reflect the region (all be it in a quirky way – Time Out says of Pacitti he uncorks extraordinary images, then re stops the bottle and shakes the whole lot up into a fizz with dazzling effect) and will involve thousands of people – and especially young people – from across the region.
I cant wait to see the stella line up Pacitti company propose to perform on the black street (a ‘found’ space they will share with rough sleepers, a market and much else), or take part in one of the feasts for a 1000 people. I want to get on my bike and cycle along our fantastic coast line and see those flags change from black to the countries from around the world we are welcoming. I look forward to witnessing live some of the public interventions at Landguard Point itself. And thats just the tip of the iceberg!
So Much More than a Film
So I’d argue this is a project that is so much more than a film. One that starts from a base at Landguard Point but which them eminates outwards. Needless to say though I’m really looking forward to see how the company bring all these diverse strands together into the final film. I can see how it might at first seem that this broad ranging project is a little disjointed but I hope you’ll take the time to listen to Robert and his team talk about the project and how all the pieces of the jigsaw connect (the central idea of what constitutes home is the key!).
A legacy far beyond 2012
Others of you have wondered what the legacy of the project might be. Here I and the panel have the benefit of having read the lengthy proposal /feasibility study for the project. I was impressed by the plan to ensure every role in the development of the work is shadowed by a young person (and especially disengaged young people) – a unique opportunity to help develop tomorrows artists. That in itself is an amazing legacy. The film too will be a lasting legacy of the project, of the time and of the moment – as will the collection of artefacts on the theme of home which will be donated to a regional museum and gallery. And I hope that Robert having re established his base here in the East will continue to make and create work here long after the completion of On Landguard Point. Finally – just like Plastic is going to leave a lasting memory in my mind I hope that the various moments and celebrations which make up On Landguard Point will leave memories for thousands.
The panel also had the luxury of being able to go through detailed figures for all five projects – so I’m happy to say that most of the money is not being spent on black paint and flags – in fact less than 5% of the project budget.
Community Engagement every step of the way
Quite rightly some of you ask where the education projects are. Robert’s proposal documents – in my opinion – contained the most comprehensive community engagement plans of any of the five shortlisted projects. Robert did spend little time engaging in the on line debate but far from being ‘arrogant’ he and the company were out and about meeting people, talking to people, building contacts and connections that have informed and shaped those plans. I have every confidence he will see those partnerships through and make many more.
Absolutely regionally relevant
Others of you wondered what the relevance to the region was. The presentation to the panel and proposal documents made this very clear! This is a project about home by an artist who was born and brought up here and who is rapidly reconnecting with the region. Robert talks of the project as being made with and for the people of the East. A mass public research project if you like. And of course its starting point is Landguard Point – its major themes and enquiries start and end there.
Lots of people seem troubled by the fact that the commission went to an artist who already receives funding. This was not a selection criteria – in fact AtL was markedly different from many other schemes as it set very few criteria. For me it was about giving a number of artists the opportunity the time and resource to realise an extraordinary project. An immense responsibility. During this whole process I often found myself wondering how a new or emerging artist would manage a £.5million budget and the stresses and strains which go with that. I’m confident that Pacitti company can deliver this project on time and on budget – and that we are getting extraordinary value for money.
It was great reading the messages of support for the project from other shortlisted artists. Nancy will be a loss to the region and I wish her all the best in Dorset. I’ have absolutly no doubt the Bees project will be realised in another form. And in LACE and Cheryl Frances-Hoad we have two genuine names to look out for in the future. I really hope that the profile they have all received over the last couple of months has been of genuine benefit and that in time the AtL process will be seen as a catalyst and a spring board for them all. The fact that we had such strong projects to consider at every stage of the project – but especially at the short listing phase – demonstrates the breadth and vitality of creativity going on in this region.
On Landguard Point
But back to On Landguard Point. I have no doubt the work will be many things – stunning, beautiful, challenging (even disturbing), thought provoking and moving. But above all I truly believe it will have the WOW factor. Metro have said of Pacitti if you want to see the future of theatre , start here and with On Landguard Point Robert and his team will I think create a work which is not just about the future of theatre but about the potential and future of art itself. Its a huge responsibility, but one that I know the company are taking very, very seriously.
I hope too that I can enjoy the company of some of the engaged posters at one of On Landguard Point’s key events and maybe we can pick up this debate again then!
Find out more about 30 bird here