Nelsons Swansong?













Last Monday saw the publication of a report/study on the Marching Bands of Northern Ireland.

Commissioned by the Minister for Culture, Nelson McCauseland and DCAL, the report “aims to promote understanding and encourage development of the largest section of the community arts sector”.

The report runs to 37 pages with 7 appendices.

The detailed specification for the Project states that it must address various areas and undertake a “quantitiative data gathering exercise (one month)”

Now i am no expert but a month to research what has been boldly called  the largest section of the community arts sector is nowhere near enough. Looking at the report and how the graphs and tables are laid out backs my feeling that it was rushed through before the assembly dissolves.

Appendix 4 of the report references Simon Schama, calling him “the highest paid performer on British Television” (!)  it goes on to quote him from his  History of Britain –

“for the British people the bonfire became the vocabulary that was the beacon of freedom and democracy

The report directly follows this quote  with what i can only see as a spurious comparison.

“For the Ulster Scots people on this island, the parading culture is their beacon of freedom and democracy and is their way of celebrating past deliverances and remembering those who have fallen in the defence of our land.”

I can’t but help think  that there is a hidden agenda behind this report,  namely to position this sector as a legitimate arts form which would then be used as a rationale to divert arts funding away from established (legitimate) arts practitioners and organisations.

The Bavarian Orange Order have of course made  their own comments and observations on the report.

Photographer and visual artist based in Belfast.
I have facilitated community based workshops with groups as diverse as visually impaired individuals in Dungannn, Travellers across Northern Ireland, Young Offenders and many community groups across Belfast.
My work has exhibited extensively here in Northern Ireland in group and individual shows and has been shown in North America and i had my first solo international exhibition in New Zealand. I have been the recipient of a number of grants from the Arts Council Northern Ireland.
I’ll be blogging about Arts and Culture, primarily in Belfast
check out