Issue 213
May/June 2020

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Jul 14, 2020

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Editorial Comment

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Will it ever end?

LIKE ANY INDEPENDENT business, this paper has known some challenging times, but none as challenging as those we are passing through now.

Time will tell where the UK went so catastrophically wrong in its handling of the threat to life and livelihoods caused by the corona virus..

Already the 'serious' newspapers – and thank goodness there are still some – have catalogued an incredible sequence of inept decision making or plain indecision on the part of a government that seemed to be suffering a Brexit obsession that prevented serious attention to anything else.

The suspicion is bound also to be there that a government which, through its advisers, openly sought "weirdos and misfits" to join the decision making teams got what it was looking for.

The price we are all going to have to pay for these failures to act resolutely and on good advice is going to be horrendous.

Despite all the measures announced to alleviate the hardship, it is plain that many of those who run their own show, in the arts, crafts and the tourist economy are going to suffer terribly. Particularly in rural Scotland, many in the hospitality sector already finding life extremely challenging are going to face an appalling struggle to survive.

Hotels that had managed to hang on through seemingy endless years of austerity, made worse by 'nanny state' edicts from Holyrood will face further nightmares if, as seems likely, they are forced to keep their doors locked and guests turned away long into the coming summer.

Most arts enterprises have shown incredible ingenuity in maintaining and developing their online presence, but there is only so much that distance from the real thing can deliver.

Walk-round virtual visits to the great galleries can give a very creditable understanding of the treasures within their walls, but the actual sight of great works of art in the flesh, as it were, is very often an unforgettable and life-changing experience.

Similarly, for all the technical wizardy of high-fi, wrap around recording, nothing approaches the sheer wave of emotion and feeling live music can produce.

When conditions finally allow it once more, we must all make a point of getting out there and supporting live art, living music and the real inspiration they can bring to our lives.

1990: Alive in Venice

IT DOES NO HARM, in these difficult times, to cast one's mind back to recall and mark successes from the past.

One such, is the memorable achievement that 30 years ago saw a prominent presence for Scottish sculpture at the Venice Biennale.

As the art critic Clare Henry puts it: "It was the first and only time ever in its 125 year history that Scotland featured as a prominent part of the official art Biennale, centre stage in the Giardini at the invitation of the Biennale director. It was a triumph for Scottish sculpture.

"David Mach, Arthur Watson and Kate Whiteford, collaborated on a site specific exhibition which filled the big prime outdoor central space at the heart of the Biennale, in front of the Italian Pavilion.

"Scotland could not be missed! To top it all, the director invited Mach to place his largest Scots pine tree steel sculpture at the very front entrance."

Credit for the enterprise must go to two prime movers on the Scottish arts scene: the late, much missed Barbara Grigor and the everlasting Richard Demarco.

As prime whingers, we are delighted to be able to celebrate wholeheartedly for a change.

Well done all!

Thank you, 'Creative' Scotland

IN THESE difficult times most bodies dedicated to supporting the arts have come up with special programmes designed to help those who struggle to gain a livelihood in these fields.

Our own CreativeScotland is no exception. Where better then, you might think, to publicise such a programme, than in the pages of 'The North's Arts Newspaper'?

How wrong can you be. We approached CS suggesting they might like to book a modest space for an advertisement in the columns of this paper.

Their 'marketing' people thought about it and decided not, but they kindly wished us 'good luck with the magazine' and suggested sources of 'funding' we might like to tap.


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