Copyright © 2005 Martin Newell
Pepys 0.1 Blogware © Steve Dix
Terry the Okapi is back from an arts seminar in Norwich. "It's not like real life," he said, as he tore down one of the curtains with his teeth and started pawing at the fabric, tossing his head from side to side."I mean, the whole arts world and indeed, arts programming and funding in general all seem well up the eastern contraflow. I was asked recently if I wanted to enter a cross-discipline, cross-species, arts initiative which they plan to action in the region next summer. It involved getting a load of old fruit juice tetra packs, sort of glueing them together in a number of different installments, then having salsa dancers with street poetry workshops all around them on these stalls down the high streets. They were going to call it The Urban Poetry Olympian Zoo You could see it wasn't going to work and I said so.Told them it was a pile of w***... which they seemed to think was a good alternative title for the project."
"How much did they offer you?" I asked the central African ruminant. "Seventeen grand to perform...or seventy five grand if I offered to head up and facilitate the project. Of course, it won't be as simple as that. There'd be feasibility studies, meetings upon meetings, and finally an interminable bloody breakdown afterwards, which I've forgotten the name for. But it's where you hand out loads of forms to the punters than analyse it all, with graphs to show them what you've done and why it's been a success, even though no f***er came.
"Naturally, it wouldn't be what the punters want. You might as well stand in the middle of B&Q on a bank holiday, shouting, "Yaawwww!" into a cardboard box or making little mewing noises at the people on the help-desk through a length of plastic drainipe, for all the bloody good it will do you. At least it would be finite, because they'd probably send for the police and have you removed after about 20 minutes. And what would the punters do? I'll tell you. Sweet bugger all, that's what. Just as they do when you stage an arts spectacular. They'd walk round the f***er."
Terry had now worked up a fine head of steam. "I'll tell you what the punters really want. --Halloween and fireworks, that's all. You put a load of plastic masks, cloaks, face paint and red devil tritons in the Co-op, where the king size biscuit tins usually go and what happens? They'll sell out like French lipstick at a Norwegian ladyboy convention. People cannot wait to dress up for Halloween. Then..." said the Okapi, throw in a few fireworks and you've got 'em. Fireworks and some plastic costumes from the Co-op. That's what it all boils down to, these days."
"Meanwhile, Johnny Arts Council seems intent, with what little money he has left over-- after the Olympics Board have purloined the rest -- upon force-feeding the benighted public, poetry that doesn't rhyme, drama that's unwatchable and art that looks like four mentalists on drugs have tried to put a shed, using some packaging stuff left around the back of Tescos. I despair. I really friggin well do!"
"So did you get the job then, Terry?"
"Start next week." he grinned.