Friday 29 July 2011

Valuing News of The World and CP

My work with 'Creative Partnerships', along with all the other creative agents, ended last week.  In looking to our futures Lee Corner invited us to consider our values - consider what it is we really want, and to reflect on our past.  

All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education (The Robinson Report) was published to wide acclaim in 1999 and spawned Creative Partnerships.  Throughout the document it refers to collaboration supporting learning - collaboration between young people and parents, arts organisations, businesses, LEAs, local communities, Arts Council, museums, libraries, everyone.  It also recognises a need to develop confidence for young people to make the most of their own resources, developing their own creativity.  Our values are as our name suggests - creativity and partnership.

So what's gone wrong with Creative Partnerships?  Have we kept to our core values?  Does the Government share our core values, or are their priorities different?

There's been a lot of talk in the press about values.   The police have not yet completed a criminal investigation into phone hacking, but already a hugely successful paper has been closed down for good.  In a recent Sky news article titled, 'what is the value of the News of the World?', begins: 

With an average weekly circulation of 2.6 million, the News Of The World is Britain's best-selling Sunday paper and a profitable venture.

But if NOTW main value was to make money, they'd be merchant bankers.  The other value they claim is to seek 'truth'.  It might not be Famine in Somalia, because they also value 'fun' and focus on stories about 'human nature'.  However they identify their news values, you definitely know what you are getting with NOTW.  They have stuck to their values, and yet their 'lack of values' has ended it.  But that's not the end of the story. At Sky, the Saturday Sun has already grown in size, and media analysts 'expect a new title launch, but not immediately.'

Creative Partnerships, like NOTW, is gone and it's not coming back, even if our values are sound - 'a profitable venture' recognised by Ofsted and more widely:

PriceWaterhouseCoopers say that for every £1 invested Creative Partnerships delivered £15.30 of benefits to the national economy

A new title launch soon?  I guess that depends on what the Government values.

Friday 1 July 2011

Striking - a selfless or selfish gesture?

"Tank Man" stops the advance of a column of tanks on June 5, 1989, in Beijing.
Taken by Jeff Widener of the Associated Press
It's still not clear what happened to 'tank man', but the recording of this
 unknown rebel earned him a feature in Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century.  See "Behind the scenes: Tank Man of Tiananmen" (New York Times), with link to video of the incident.

China still executes more people than any country in the world.  Al Weiwei has been released, but Mao Hengfeng, Nurmemet Yasin, and many human rights defenders, journalists, writers, poets, others willing to speak out, and act, are arrested, and allegations of torture and other ill-treatment are common.  I'm glad David Cameron is still willing to 'raise concerns' when meeting Wen Jiabao, but how far should we go to stand up for others?  Is raising concerns really all David Cameron can do?  If we say or do nothing are we implicitly supporting the abuse of human rights in China?

Yesterday morning I wasn't sure whether or not to join strikers in Birmingham.  I was listening to BBC Radio 4 when Francis Maude finally persuaded me to join the teachers and other public sector workers in their demo:  He talked about the importance of fairness and treating people with respect.  He has also echoed Michael Gove's and Vince Cable's recent comments on the pressure teachers were putting on decent working parents, and threatened of legislation to control union action.

I have little doubt in the legitimacy of the strike.  I can see no justification for reducing pensions for teachers, or so-called 'Martini contract' imposed on public sector workers which will reduce the pay and pension of some of the poorest paid public sector workers.  Nearly all the cabinet really are millionaires, and are not 'sharing the pain'.  I believe they are deflecting attention from the rich getting richer, whose interests they are representing.  But are the changes proposed worth striking for?

The blood on the streets in Tiananmen Square 22 years ago came to be represented by a showdown Tank man and tank driver.  Popping into town to strike to keep pensions isn't quite the same.  Maybe I should be spending my time doing more to highlight abuses of human rights across the world.  Either way my children might not have gone to school but I think they had an important lesson - you can and should stand up for what you think is right, rather than what's in your best interest.

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