|John McGrath (pic Scotsman)|
Wednesday, 31 December 2014
Artists against Austerity
From time to time this blog has been known to go on (and on) about the importance of cultural work in the struggle for a socialist and just society, Occasionally it has been known to hanker for the days when labour movement bodies used theatre, film and books to both entertain and further the struggle; to create A Good Night Out in John McGrath’s memorable phrase.
Indeed Joyce MacMillan in today's Scotsman,
reminds us that this January is the 12th Anniversary of John's death,
and he (along with others like the recently lamented Dave Maclennan),
was a major talent in the development of artistic work (in his case
popular theatre) to further political aims, although the involvement of Trades Councils, Left Book Clubs and Workers’ Theatre Groups
pre-dates John’s important contribution. Yet another theme, particularly
apposite currently in Scotland, is for the left to come together, to park
Yes/No antipathy and to start to mend the divisions of that debate.
That’s why I’ve always been heartened by initiatives that the labour movement takes to utilise the hugely sympathetic and untapped talent that is out there in ‘CultureLand’. The activity now taking place around MayDay in Glasgow, a similar blossoming around the St Andrew’s Day Rallies in Scotland and the film show series tentatively undertaken by a local GMB branch, are excellent examples of things that can be done!
It is even better news to hear that one of the major bodies that has been largely successful in drawing broad support to the Anti Austerity struggle is also to dip its toe into the artistic pool in Scotland.
The Peoples’ Assembly against Austerity in Scotland has put out a call for the formation of an ‘Artists against Austerity’ assembly in the New Year. The aim is to put together a multi-platform arts event to be held before the 2015 General Election. They are looking for artists from all disciplines to come to an assembly in either Glasgow or Edinburgh on Saturday 31 January to pull together a steering group. I suggest that some of the people involved in the initiatives already mentioned could usefully help this one?
More details can be found here, or email by 18 January 2015 to confirm your attendance or if you have any queries or questions! Or if you want to contact me direct, I can point you to the relevant people.