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Shortfuse last night (and a rant)

May 19, 2010 Leave a comment

We got there late, unfortunately, but it turned out to be something of a miracle we got there at all.

Intriguing collection of stuff – a range of semi-autobiography, well-crafted tales and wonderfully evocative language. Also, unusually, some live music from The Orange and then from the First Monday Ukulele Club, which was as unlikely as it sounds – a stage filled with people playing rock’n’roll on ukeleles… a sight to behold and extraordinary (in a good way) to hear.

Shortfuse is next on 18 June, I believe (their website should soon have updated information – shortfusefiction.com). The theme for that night will be ‘taboo’. Then it’ll be taking a long break for the summer, so it’ll be a case of ‘get there or miss out for the next 4 months or so’.

Discussions afterwards were interesting and left me musing on how hard it is to organise any kind of arts event – and how much harder it’s likely to become in future in the current financial climate. So this is the ‘rant’ part of this post.

I don’t just mean things like literary readings, but art exhibitions, dance performance, theatre… we’re already at a stage where a huge amount of cultural activity is done for free, or for pennies, because the people who do it have some longer-range vision or dedication and are essentially prepared to put time and effort into making it happen.

This is so even in ‘popular’ culture – I’ve been to places like goth/industrial music events where the DJs organise the event, put in huge amounts of time flyering and advertising on social websites, etc., all for a split of the door takings after they’ve paid venue costs. They do it because they’re dedicated, which they have to be to put in the number of hours it takes in background work to make something happen and walk away at the end with less money than it will cost to get a taxi home.

And that’s just for an event with DJs. If you have a PA system, props, admin costs, or any of the myriad of other things it takes to get some kind of performance together, anything that might be called ‘alternative arts’ is going to struggle. Sure, it always has. Think for example of the number of artists whose paintings now sell for small fortunes, but who never saw a penny from their work in their own lifetimes (and whose work wasn’t even thought to have artistic merit in their own lifetimes!). And there are plenty of writers with experiences on similar lines…

But it does leave me wondering if there’s any financial model (other than working off arts grants) that would help keep ‘marginal’ events alive, because so much of what they do can’t be valued economically. I’m just thinking here of the many painters, dancers, actors, and writers whose work starts off in the margins of culture and develops there until the mainstream is ready for it…

Well, ok economists will usually say everything has an economic value; what I’m arguing here is that the value of fringe cultural events doesn’t lie in the present but the future, and usually exceeds the extent to which it can be monetised in the present. Does that make sense?

If anyone wants to start a debate or discussion about this, I’m up for it.

Shortfuse last night

January 20, 2010 Leave a comment

It was interesting. CK Walsh came up with some ideas that have probably been around a while but may prove useful in finishing a short story that’s been hanging fire for a while – legal transubstantiation, and cognitive liberty. Helen Burke was funny. And Howard Marks intrigued everyone with his stories of reindeer piss (seriously).

January 19 Short Fuse Leicester

January 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Reposted from http://shortfuseleicester.wordpress.com/ – Short Fuse is a monthly short story/flash fiction event at the Y Theatre in Leicester.

Coming Up: RETOX Tuesday January 19th, 8pm

Roll over Burroughs and Bukowski – Short Fuse Presents a night of literary excess and intoxicating polemic

Topping the bill, we have dope-dealing legend HOWARD MARKS – AKA Mr Nice Guy – riffing on the reefer

A heady line-up in store:

CK Walsh’s thought provoking paper on ‘Drugs and the Internet’…
Nicholas Lezard’s highly original take on the 12 Steps…
Extracted from ‘Fruitcake’, Rob Gee’s darkly comic tales from the psychiatric ward, law and disorder and attendant chemical cocktails…
Jon Vagg’s short story about spaced out vampire clubbers
Helen Burke’s flash fiction about a busted party

Watch this space! Book tickets at The Y Box Office on: 0116 255 7066

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