Would you wound a bird so you can help it recover? That’s what the Tories are doing. Austerity damaged society, now they want the acclaim of fixing it. Don’t trust them #votelabour

Here’s a family story that has always hung in my mind, and I am going to share it. Have you read Ian Banks’ The Wasp Factory? It reminds me of my brother. When we were young he always loved nature more than anything. He loved it so very much and wanted to care for it, he would injure birds with a catapult, so he could nurture them back to health. Think about that. It’s really not a healthy attitude.

Now think about Boris Johnson and the Tories. They used public money to bailout the banks, then hit the public with years of austerity.

I cannot keep silent any longer. Hearing Johnson say the Tories will fix things like mental health care, housing, NHS, knife crime, social services, prisons etc just triggers everything inside me to call out for some TRUTH.

Because the TORIES imposed austerity and caused ALL of these problems by stripping local authorities, charities and any social welfare bodies to the bone. Fill potholes? Why not resurface the roads properly, instead of refilling them every few months and closing all the roads while it happens. Repeatedly.

Climate change? Use less cars? Put the transport back in the hands of the public. It is by its very name and nature, public transport – but is only available for city people and the price is phenomenal. Making the urban/rural divide even bigger. Give country dwellers more buses, not less.

Where I live, tourism is a priority – yet our ‘destination organisation’ is a Trust with no employees, run by very kind, generous volunteers. Tourism is an industry, not a leisure activity! Public services are ene essites – not just for those who can afford them, for everyone. I just nipped into a local co-op in Cinderford. I paid 20p to park to pop in. There was a tear off slip to claim back the money, but the co-op don’t refund and the shop that did has closed. Why are we surprised that our High Streets are dying?

I work in the arts and have seen so many organisations seriously affected by austerity. They hardly have the capacity to exist. Indeed many no longer do exist. Am not sure the sharing of the Turner Prize made a strong enough statement – but they have drawn attention to the social nature of the arts sector and their desire for fairness and balance. The four said they wanted to make a collective statement at a time when there is “already so much that divides and isolates people and communities”.

There used to be lots of opportunities for artists to show, but now they have to compete, by entry fee, to be selected to show. The organisations that should be showcasing the best art in the world are having to scrimp and save and bring in money, from the very people that make the work. And the artists are probably one of the lowest paid people in the country! A lifetime of zero hours. Would you pay to have an interview for a job, in the hope that you might fight off the other 75 people you are competing with? (NO money-grabbers, don’t even GO there!)

The Labour Party are the only hope. Put aside whether you like Corbyn or not. ignore the BBC’s not-so-covert attempts to keep the Tories in.

Lets simply go where there is some TRUTH.

[this is a personal opinion and does not relate to my professional life]


I seem to be working on many things at the monent, but this is the one needing urgent attention. It has a deadline – 17th June!

I need you to vote for us to gain £5000 towards refurbishing the kitchen of The George. The George is a local building that closed down a year ago. A group of us got together and formed the Newnham on Severn Community Benefit Society and are trying to buy it back, for the community. Find out the detail here.

We’re selling community shares and hosting various fundraising event. We’re doing REALLY well – but Calor needs more votes to keep us in the top ten. PLEASE give all TEN of your votes to us. It’s a but of a faff to login to – you have to register first. If it doesnt work, clear your browser cache and restart the browser. If it still doesn’t work, email me carolyn@flowprojects.org.uk

Click here to go to our page.

Download flyer with live link here:


calor last shout fler image

new commission opportunities for artists

I am currently working with b-side to provide Creative Producer support to 6 new art commissions for a public art trail in Weymouth town centre. The commissions are for Weymouth & Portland Borough Council.  They include the potential to create work in association with water refill units – to our knowledge the first time public art has embraced promoting the use of units, as a trail,  to reduce single-use plastics. Wessex Water are supporting the project.

Full details about the commissions and to apply, visit Curator Space.

art trail 1

Restricting access to creative art courses – is it too late to consider, now the damage has been done? Have arts students been mis-sold to?

According to this article on the inews website “Creative arts courses are ‘not economically worthwhile’ – universities should restrict access to them, think tank argues”.

The articles states that ‘Creative writing, drama and music are among university courses deemed ‘low value’ – which most certainly needs a bit of unpicking. The gist of the article is that creative courses do not churn out people who will earn high salaries, therefore will never pay back their student loans, which is a strain on tax payers. Clearly their only measure of ‘value’ is economic, which is deeply depressing. But I can see their point, we shouldn’t be wasting anyones money, and if our economy does not respect creatives or pay them fairly, as compared with other professions, we should consider why that might be.

Maybe we should look back to the late 1980’s/early 90’s, when the government began to charge fees, as well as double annual intake onto university courses. I know this well, because I applied and secured a place on a degree course and was delighted to be selected. However, during the summer before my first year began, the university was advised to double its intake – resulting in many people who had been turned down for selection being invited to join the course anyway. Worth mentioning that no extra space was provided, and no extra staff. Just double the students. Studio space was reduced massively, indeed my studio in the 2nd year was in the caretakers bungalow near the gate – there simply was not enough provision for so many students at such short notice. The fine art degree course admission numbers doubled again the following year. And so it went on……resulting in the market being flooded with arts graduates very fast.

So education became monetised, just like every other valuable aspect of the welfare state. I shan’t go on about all those things here,  because we have watched the NHS, the rail network, the education system being brought to their knees, the evidence is all around us.

Which is why I feel motivated to write this. How can they now turn around and say that arts graduates aren’t an efficient part of the system, because they don’t earn sufficient money to justify their education? Who is guilty of what here?

Ironically, the issue of limiting numbers IS something I would agree with, if it means that students get more tutor time and studio space on their courses, more teaching, more lectures. Because at present there is not enough money in the semi-privatised FE system to deliver as well as the lecturers would like to. And not enough space for fine art students to rotate an easel!

We certainly have been mis-sold creative degrees, maybe there should be a pay-back scheme for all those students, equivalent to PPI. I’m sure that artists would greatly appreciate that – they could even pay back their student loans, which will never happen unless they are helped, due to most having below minimum wage status.

The article suggests that  “Institutions that rely on the provision of such courses are exploiting taxpayers who are ultimately liable”.

My concern is that they are exploiting creative young people who are skilled, talented and worth nurturing, who are core to civilisation. Our government is exploiting everyone by making education, particularly creativity, a commodity and not a necessity.

next year WILL be better – seasonal greetings & optimism!

Interesting looking back five years. Wow, so many exciting things have happened during them. Am not up to writing about it now as have other things to get on with. But by far the BIGGEST change is me returning to my own practice. So if I’ve been quiet on the Flow website it’s because I’ve been working on carolynblackart.com. I’m still producing and doing consultancy work, but it has mostly been on non-public-facing contracts. Am intrigued what may occur in 2019!

Flow Contemporary Arts

The last missive of a good year and next year will be better (even, much, lots?)

Despite the cuts, the recession and the constant fight to keep the arts on the government agenda, it’s been a  good one. Starting Flow in this economic climate was never going to be easy but the time is always now, so why wait?

Something that lingers in my mind as the year closes is that the more brutal the cuts became, the more resilient and empathic people have become. No-one can sit on their laurels any more (not that anyone ever does in the arts…they can’t, being one of the lowest paid professions).

This years card is for everyone –  many friends, family and colleagues have found it a very tough year for various reasons, so I hope it is empowering for them. And for those that it’s been good, or even brilliant –…

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