Friday, 19 December 2008

How was 2008 for you?


Well, the only invitation to share my books of the year in a newspaper round up came from The Morning Star, courtesy of my friend and five-aside team-mate Andy Croft, so I thought I’d do a little round up here of ’things of the year’ – some personal, some serious, some less so.

Word of 2008: Excellence
New record of 2008: Fleet Foxes by Fleet Foxes
Old record/songs of 2008: Tell Tale Signs by Bob Dylan
Play of 2008: Pitman Painters by Lee Hall
Cultural Policy Document of 2008: Pitman Painters by Lee Hall
Poetry anthology of 2008: In Person – book and dvd of poets reading – edited by Neil Astley and Pamela Robertson-Pearce
Novel of the 2008: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
Exhibition of 2008: Unpopular Culture: Grayson Perry selects from the Arts Council Collection
Poetry collection of 2008: The Invisible Kings by David Morley (pedants: yes, came out late 2007 but I only read it this year!)
Mis-casting of 2008: Equity putting Peter Hewitt in the role of pantomime villain
Oddly exhilarating team-building experience of 2008: Arts Council England North East Management Team Ukulele Orchestra performance at the staff summer party. Oh yes, we walk the walk.
9 hour multi-lingual experience of 2008: TSF/Lepage’s Lipsynch at the Barbican
If They Could See Me Now That Little Gang of Mine Moment of 2008: Feargal Sharkey admiring my long-arm stapler story when I chaired VAN’s Our Creative Talent conference (see photo above from VAN's Flickr site of photos - this one by Paul Caplan.)
I love this job moment of 2008: lots to choose from, including some of the above, but probably all the 'backstage access' I enjoy was topped by a day in February spent with the Premier of the Eastern Cape in South Africa, and the signing of an MOU between the Eastern Cape Government and the Association of North East Councils, in Gateshead's Council Chamber. Sounds dry perhaps but it comes out of a deep relationship between artists and politicians and arts funders/developers in the two regions, mainly embodied through the Swallows Partnership. I read something I'd written when visiting the Eastern Cape in 2006. Our visiting colleagues, Premier included, responded by singing a fantastic Xhosa song, bringing their political and artistic tradition to the Council chamber. The moment caught the way the arts can work in a deeply political world. I definitely walked out of the room reminded of the worth and pleasure of my job.

1 comment:

geoffrey crayon said...

Stop whining about the Hewitt thing for FFS!

He insulted people's intelligence once too often and got an appropriate and proportionate response.