What kind of a year has 2013 been for you?
2013 has been a rough year. At the beginning of it, our family had to deal with a major health problem, which I am happy to say is resolving itself in a favourable way. Then the gallery I worked with for ten years decided our relationship was over, and in the wider world the changes in the National Curriculum instigated by the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, threatened to marginalise creativity in schools. So I am glad to say goodbye to 2013
What has changed for the better and what, if anything, has changed for the worse?
The prestige of the arts in national life is in decline. It’s a pointless and perverse situation. There are so many great artists, designers and musicians in the UK, but support for new generations of creative people is shrinking. Not much to celebrate I’m afraid – other than art itself, of course.
What do you wish hadn’t happened this year?
I wish Gove would listen to what people are telling him – that to marginalise art is to punish creative children.
What do you wish had happened this year, but didn’t?
I wish the government recognised that art can provide hope and direction in people’s lives. For a small amount of investment, with art and design we could inspire kids to look forward to designing the future.
What would you characterise as your major achievement this year and why?
I was involved in organising the Art Party Conference in Scarborough with Crescent Arts. The event was truly joyous, and if you came and participated – thank you. I am working with film director Tim Newton to create a feature-length movie of the Art Party which will be released on GCSE results day in 2014. There were 14% fewer kids choosing art in 2013 than did in 2010, so GCSE results day seems a good time to get the message out that Gove’s reforms are causing real damage. The film will feature Cornelia Parker, Jeremy Deller, Janette Pariss and Jessica Voorsanger. There is great music from Jemma Freeman’s band The Fucks and Flame Proof Moth. John Voce gave us an amazing performance at the Art Party as Michael Grove MP, and this and his row with Hetty Nettleship, his senior civil servant played by Julia Rayner, is captured beautifully on film. a-n really helped make the Scarborough Art Party influential, so thank you.
Is there anything you’d like to have done this year but haven’t?
I don’t want to be too miserablist. I have made lots of work and the Art Party was fun. 2013 has shown me that it is worthwhile advocating for the arts and demanding change.
What would make 2014 a better year than 2013?
A change of government.