Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Creative Arts on the Election Agenda.

The 6th May is probably indelibly marked on your hearts as it’s hand in day. It is also of course Election Day. As you are all working frantically on your assignments and may not have the time to see what the parties are including in their manifestos I thought I would give you a brief overview of what the three parties have to say about the Arts.

The Labour Party manifesto runs to over 70 pages and is divided into 10 chapters covering topics such as education, health and crime. One of the chapters which is most closely aligned with the Creative Arts is “Communities and Creative Britain”. There are five pages in this section and there is a lot in there about Sport and the Olympics in particular. In relation to the arts Labour wants to promote what it calls creative partnerships which will ensure that people in most deprived parts of the country are able to fulfill their artistic talents by working with local arts and cultural organizations. They intend building on the success of free theatre to young people and looking towards providing reduced rate tickets for theatrical productions around Britain. And promisingly they mention the prospering of national cultural life by developing young artistic talent. Creative Bursaries are being proposed to support artistically gifted young people early in their careers. This chapter of the manifesto is wide ranging and covers issues such as community post offices and public libraries. The only mention of dance in their manifesto is that they are going to give local authorities greater powers to reject applications for lap-dancing clubs. The claim is within the manifesto that creative industries now account for 10% of the economy and they aspire to strengthen this by encouraging the film industry, the independence of the BBC and encouraging plurality of provision of broadcasting via the other television networks – Channel 4, ITV & Channel 5.

The Conservative manifesto has a small section on Culture, Arts and the Media. It’s much briefer than the Labour party’s chapter running to just under 350 words as opposed to 900 in theirs. The themes it briefly skims over are the lottery, the Olympics. The focus of their manifesto is chiefly on ICT provision with an infrastructure proposed to allow the expansion/ diversification of organizations as it addresses, commercial television, broadband and telephony infrastructure and services. There is nothing in there about the individual participation in the arts either as performer or in the audience in contrast to the Labour manifesto.

The Liberal Democratic Manifesto is the longest of them all and runs to over 100 pages. It’s structure is in sharp contrast to the other two in that it moves away from 10-12 areas of interest roughly mirroring government departments to putting the citizen at the centre of its manifesto. Hence there are four sections You and – Money; Job; Life; Family. This layout made it less obvious what their view on the creative arts are. Thankfully, there is a useful subject index at the back of the manifesto and this will direct you to the relevant part of the manifesto (pages 44-46). Like the other two parties there is mention of the Olympics and a sweeping statement about wishing to foster an environment in which all forms of creativity are able to flourish. Specifically this manifesto promises to maintain free entry to museums and galleries and to establish a creative enterprise fund offering training, mentoring and small grants to help creative industries get off the ground. One of its specific promises concerns live music performance in that they want to cut the red tape in relation to the entertainment licence. If this manifesto becomes government policy then unamplified music with no more than two musicians can be played in any licensed premises. Venues which cater for up to 200 people will not need such a licence

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Professional Practice - a camera operator's view

Contacts and networking are at the heart of professional practice. This was a key theme in the interview with Anna Valdez Hanks in Middlesex University’s School of Arts & Education today. Anna Valdez Hanks’ path into camerawork began in Medical School when she started studying Ethics as part of her course. As a result of this she changed her mind about becoming a doctor and graduated in Medical Ethics instead. She desperately wanted to make a film about to communicate as idea but did not have the technical know how. So Anna went off to college and did a BTec in Film Making.

Her career started at the bottom when a BBC crew went to her college and she offered to help them out. She got talking to a producer and subsequently e-mailed him. This led to more unpaid roles but very useful experience which was a valuable learning opportunity. Eventually, Anna found herself an unofficial mentor who helped develop her skills as well as her paid work. She is now working freelance as a camera assistant and has built up a wealth of experience since that. She has won a short film competition in the Straight 8 competition,(Looking for Marilyn)(see below) worked on Endgame for Channel 4, as well as ad shoots.

The topics covered in the interview were wide ranging with some of the focus on the technical aspects of filmmaking with the move from film to digital as a recording tool. Anna also discussed the relationship between cinematographer and director which can be challenging at times when interpretations over style and voice are at a variance.

Other parts of her interview clearly showed that in order to be a Professional Practitioner she needs skills, technical knowledge as well as negotiating skills. She has used competitions as a way of developing her knowledge in addition to her career.

As a freelancer Anna talked of the difficulties of time management in between jobs but with experience and more resources she now uses her downtime to develop her own projects and collaborates on scripts with peers. She stressed the importance of maintaining contacts with various professional networks. The interview was punctuated with clips of her actual work. One of these was her show reel which she is a work in progress. She wants to do more work on it before she sends it out to agents. This is her potential calling card and Anna pointed out that she can she can see a development in her work and how it has improved.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Tutor Guidance on Blogs

There’s a wealth of advice on the above to help you progress on the module. Here is a flavor of what you will find there:

For guidance on the Project Plan for the Assignment check Paula’s blog entry called Campus Session 4. My blog has a slideshow called Research Overview which has a slide on a project timeline which could be a model for you. Paula’s Activities 1,2,& 7 entry is helpful in focusing on actions you should be completing for inclusion in the assignment. Ethics is a requirement for your assignment and the principles are covered here on this blog.

Peter’s Evaluating your Topic is a thoughtful piece and should be read in conjunction with Paula’s Basic Theory entry.

The Interview Method as a research tool is well covered by Paula. If you are interested in preparing a survey you should look at Preparing your Research Survey on Peter’s Blog as well as the Surveys slideshow on my blog. Observations may be an option for data gathering you are considering and again, this blog provides information as well as an exercise.

There’s lots more on these blogs as well as your class colleagues. A list of blog addresses is being prepared to be sent to you in the near future. Best regards and Happy Easter!