Monday 24 October 2011

Let culture rule!

The meeting ended, it was time to sample the major cultural events that have been put on for CHOGM.

Perhaps one of the most interesting is in the Convention Centre where the CHOGM opening events take place. It's a celebration of the aboriginal story as seen through the Canning Stock route , a cattle drover's track from Perth northwards that went through the aboriginal lands; stunning display of paintings as you see here.

Then from there to the Western Australia Museum of Art , where there is an exhibition of " Princely Treasures", european masterpieces drawn from the collections of the V+A.

This opened today. The V+A has an amazing collection but it is somewhat overwhelming. The advantage of this exhibition was the carefully selected treasures that made this a real treat. But the treat was not over , because from there I was invited to the reception to mark the opening tomorrow of " Extraordinary Stories from the British Museum".

Again, carefully selected items and treasures, some are priceless objects that have not travelled out of the UK before. But carefully selected like the famous Ife head-bronze from Nigeria and the Saxon Snettisham great torc. I rather liked a more contemporary piece called the " Throne of weapons , made in 2001 and composed of weapons that were used in the Mozambique civil war - made by Mozambiquan artist Canavato. It represents both the tragedy of a war that claimed 1 million lives and the triumph of those who achieved a lasting peace.

I upbraded Neil MacGregor, the Director of the British Museum for stealing one of my staff; Katherine Hudson ! And had a long chat with the Chair of the Museum fundraising foundation - they are not facing the challenges we are in the UK. Indeed the economy in WA is thriving.

And one other highlight; the Devil's Lair Chardonnay served at the reception! Fantastic wine from the Margaret river. Puts the plonk you get at UK receptions in the shade...

Get back to hotel to an email from Robin Osterley , CEO of Making Music, ACEVO Board member and Chair of our acevo arts and heritage special interest group. The SIG have had a meeting at DCLG to discuss the lack of references to culture in their strategy. A lobbying issue for acevo.

It is sometimes forgotten that our third sector includes the incredible work of the arts. One of the many disgusting aspects of the Desmond Lottery has been to try and belittle good cause money given to arts as though health charity work is somehow more important and money spent on art wasted. We know that the health of the mind and soul is as important as the health of the body. Indeed, interesting work has been done on the value of arts and music in recovery from ill health and coping with illness. Its important therapy for mental health.

Anyway , that's enough culture for today!

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