I'm currently helping to orginise the easiest campaign you've ever been asked to be apart of - No Culture Day.
The astute amongst you will know I live in Southend-on-Sea. It's great here - we have the best charity shops in the country, the longest pier in the world and an MP who was fooled into bringing Chris Morris' made up drug CAKE to parliament.
As a collective of artists, creatives and facilitators who live, work and create in Southend we're urging fellow artists, creatives and friends to do nothing cultural on the 1st January 2017 in response to the so-called ‘Southend - Alternative City of Culture’ or ‘ACC-17′.
Due to be launched on 1st January, headed up by Sir David Amess MP, ACC-17 was set up as a retaliation after Southend was unsuccessful in receiving the City of Culture 2017 bid. Arts and culture in Southend is rich, with local Arts Council funded organisations, free galleries, artists, collectives, studio spaces as well as makers and creators living and working along our expansive estuary. ACC-17‘s launch event showcase features a clown and face painting for £6. This is followed by year long season featuring building tours, a food and drink festival and two months dedicated to military service - is this representative of the cultures of Southend?
Money has been spent on covering our buses and trains with the slogan ‘Alternative City of Culture’, on website development, artwork, branding and marketing. However, in a recent interview with the Echo, Amess requests a town crier to work for free throughout the year. Arts Council England, Equity, A-N and ITC strongly advise against the use of free creative labour - another reason we are downing tools on 1st January.
We fully support arts, culture and a diverse creative talent and industry in the region. We welcome new, well thought out ideas, festivals and artists to our town that engage with our town - work that develops local talent, attracks national audiences and is beneficial to us all.
With a lack of diversity or breath of local voices contributing to ACC-17 we feel it is ill prepared and conceived, badly curated and at best a rushed job.
Tomorrow morning at 7am I am going head to head with David Amess on BBC Essex - it's vital we send ACC-17 a strong message that the wider community are in support of our campaign!
You can do this by clicking attending / going on our Facebook event - https://www.facebook.com/events/1395180430515744/
Sharing our statement - https://nocultureday.tumblr.com
and tweeting #NoCultureDay