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Made an exhausted return from SOTA12 http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/jobs-and-conferences… yesterday, which I attended as one of the 50 artists given a bursary by ACE to be there. Apparently our presence gave the conference a different feel this year compared to last year, when the dearth of artists was perceived as a major failing.

Highlights were Kirsty Ware’s excellent chairing of the event and David Edgar’s interventions, especially his closing speech.

The conference reflected a shift in thinking away from the notion that the value of art and artists lies mainly in their contribution to the creative economy – cf. Liz Forgan’s opening address. We still need to be on our guard though, even if Ed Vaizey said the case for the arts has been made and accepted; whether he will take up the challenge set at the conference of writing to all local councils to restate that remains to be seen.

I don’t think the format of the breakout sessions worked very well – still the old model of artists presenting their work and delegates having to work out how that fitted the theme and what we were supposed to talk about.

My general feeling was there was a lack of real provocation or focused presentation of new ideas; much of the discussion felt as if it was just confirming principles already laid down and I am not sure that the conference really did finish with a call to action.

Still, I enjoyed it and am glad I went.


96,000 words, two bids and various meetings later, I finally manged to spend 2 hours in the studio yesterday and felt happy.

I have a new “neighbour” – Bob the hot dog man. We had a few minutes conversation at cross purposes because I thought he’d said he was Bob the odd jobs man. Intrigued by his apron I asked if he was working upstairs in the kitchens, to which he said “no I’m on the street.”

Off to Manchester tomorrow for the State of the Arts Conference. I’m really looking forward to it and thankfully have managed to smooth ruffled feathers at home caused by wanting to go to a conference on Valentine’s day.