On being a loser

It’s an interesting position to be in: the organisation I’m working for (Arts Inform) has just been told that we have failed to gain National Portfolio Funding. What are my thoughts, apart from, ‘oh, damn’?

First, we were not surprised. Despite an excellent track record going back 15 years, we’re a ‘second tier’ organisation, and very few of those have made the cut, thanks largely to the orders from on high to protect ‘front line arts organisations’. (The government would say they had made no such order, but they made their preferences very clear.) We are in the company of many fine ‘second tier’ organisations which have had the same outcome.

Second, I was heartened by the fact that our assessment by ACE was good, and by conversations which quickly followed that announcement which indicated very strongly that we are still valued by the Arts Council and by our partners in the sector. The future is not therefore a bleak wasteland, though it still presents enormous challenges.

Third, there was (somewhat late on in the day) a very small feeling of relief – coming over me like a trickle of cold water in a warm bath – on realising that if we are no longer Arts-Council-funded, we are in a sense free – we don’t have to do what ACE tells us to any more. Don’t misunderstand me – we feel very grateful to have had this support for years, and have been and still are working with very good officers to deliver good work. Our current status as an RFO doesn’t run out until 31st March 2012… but after that, we will have to dree our own weird. Not an unpleasant feeling by any means, if a less secure feeling than we had before.

I feel very sad for other arts organisations which have unexpectedly lost all their funding. One that springs to mind is the Henri Oguike Dance Company. I first experienced his work when I was part of the team at Eastern Touring Agency, and I’ve never forgotten its intelligent musicality and originality. I hope Henri’s team are feeling at least some of the more positive reactions I’ve described.

At all events, the blow has fallen, and we must pick ourselves up and find ways of carrying on. I think the first thing I need is a lie-down for half an hour in a darkened room – and then I’ll be equal to anything.

Toodle pip!

Published in: on April 1, 2011 at 15:25  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. ‘dree our own weird’? What a wonderful phrase! But what on earth does it mean (I think I know, of course; it’s just I’ve never come across it before).

  2. Hi Derek – it’s a phrase I got from my wonderful Scottish friend Bunty Gunn (you may remember her as the lady on the Magpie team on ITV when we were kids…). Of course it means ‘make your own fortune/fate’. Another wonderful use of it is in Stevenson’s Catriona where an old crone says to the hero: ‘Gie’s yer loof, hinny, and I’ll spae yer weird tae ye’ – i.e., show me your palm, dearie, and I’ll tell your fortune for you’. Nice.

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