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Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Culture’

Hugh McIlvanney: A Moral Compass and the Power of Words

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 30th 2019

The tributes paid to Hugh McIlvanney spoke volumes for the influence of the man, his writing and for his humanity. They were laced with recollections and memorable stories of late nights, pressurised deadlines, and long conversations – often involving drink. They came from far and wide across the spectrum including Donald Trelford, former editor of ‘The Observer’; Alex Ferguson, ex-manager of Aberdeen FC and Manchester United FC; Graham Spiers of The Times; Liam McIlvanney remembering his uncle; stars such as George Foreman and Gary Lineker – and even the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

McIlvanney wrote on sport for over fifty years, starting at the Kilmarnock Standard in the 1950s, having a spell at The Scotsman before moving to The Observer in 1962 where he spent thirty one years, before moving to the Sunday Times where he remained until his retirement in 2016. In that time he covered some of the most memorable football and sporting moments from Celtic winning the European Cup to the Ali v Foreman ‘rumble in the jumble’. But he also covered more – addressing, for example, when sport and politics mixed at the Mexico Olympics in 1968 and Munich games in 1972 when in both cases disaster and death struck.

In amidst the powerful testimony of McIlvanney’s prose and his care for detail, accuracy and the semi-colon was a discernable lament for the passing of a now lost world. This centred on numerous areas: a golden age of journalism and long form essays, a time when writers could get access to some of the greats and then get unguarded copy free from the constraints of PR advisers, and an age of working class self-education and advancement without forgetting about who you were and what was important. Read the rest of this entry »

Toxic Masculinity must be defeated. Silence is not an option for any of us

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, October 10th 2018

Hate seems to be everywhere in public life. This week Scottish Justice minister Humza Yousaf floated making misogyny a specific hate crime illegal, while in the previous week, the Scottish Government launched a high profile campaign against hate crime.

Look around the world for numerous, state-sponsored examples – US President Donald Trump, the Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte with his rape comment after the killing of an Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill that ‘the mayor should have been first’, and Brazilian Presidential frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro and his language of rape references as a political weapon.

Trump’s comments on the Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford case have taken even his debased Presidency to a new low. After initially saying after the Senate hearings that Ford was ‘a very fine woman’, not long after he went into the gutter at a rally mocking sexual abuse and gang rape – then in the last few days, dismissing the whole thing as ‘a hoax’ dreamed up by the Democrats. Read the rest of this entry »

Who is going to champion Glasgow? Life after the GSA fire and the threat to the CCA

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 12th 2018

Glasgow hasn’t had to look too far to seek its troubles of late. There has been the devastating Glasgow School of Art fire (the second in four years), followed by the seeming abandonment of Sauchiehall Street businesses and residents. And if that weren’t enough in the last week there have been concerns that the acclaimed arts and cultural venue, the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA), shut since the GSA fire, faces the prospect of closure.

The CCA has played a vital part in the cultural story of the city. It began life as the Third Eye Centre opening in 1975 where it gave a whole host of emerging and radical artists a platform, providing a hub for debate, exchange and hanging out. This morphed into the CCA in 1992 and subsequently the space was overhauled to create a stunning atrium with a café, along with a cinema space and music venue, with over a dozen businesses and enterprises renting and using space, in a rich eco-system which made it a place to go for interesting conversation, an unusual art exhibition or film, or just food and drink. Read the rest of this entry »

Culture in Scotland in the midst of storms: A Call for Dangerous Cultures

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, March 16th 2018

Culture in Scotland is in difficult times: public spending cuts, the lost decade of stagnant living standards for the vast majority of people, limits to the Scottish Government’s largesse and devolution powers, controversy over Creative Scotland’s decision making and funding priorities resulting in the debate over the future of the Scottish Youth Theatre – and much more (with some questioning the continued existence of Creative Scotland).

If you think these are dangerous waters you ain’t seen nothing yet. While some yearn for the headwinds of populism, revolt and voter dissatisfaction to blow themselves out and ‘normal’ politics to resume, others recognise that what was normal was part of the problem and one of the reasons we got into the current mess. Restoration politics and culture which is what some dream of isn’t aiming very high.

Instead, we inhabit an age of broken mainstream politics, a discredited economic model, big questions about accountability, ethics and responsibility in both public life and in what is called private life, but is increasingly a contested arena. That’s without mentioning Brexit, Trump, the ineptitudes of the Theresa May UK Government, and that nearly everywhere in the developed world those notionally in control have lost their confidence, while continuing to pretend otherwise. Read the rest of this entry »

Time to Put the Culture into Creative Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, February 7th 2018

Creative Scotland’s latest stramash has again brought arts funding, decision-making and the role of the organisation centrestage.

It is a recurring problem. After the good news story before Christmas, of Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop announcing – against expectations – a real terms increase in the funding of Creative Scotland, all seemed for a brief period sweetness and light. Then came the announcement on 25 January for Regularly Funding Organisations (RFOs), who have a three-year funding cycle, of significant cuts in a host of success stories – Transmission in Glasgow and Macrobert in Stirling being but two. More seriously, seven high profile, non-building based companies had their funding completely cut, with their sole support the prospect of one year touring funds.

This has brought controversy and resignations, with Ruth Wishart and Maggie Kinloch resigning from Creative Scotland’s Board. Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop indicated a degree of displeasure at the recent funding announcement, tweeting that ‘angst and worry could be avoided if CS is clearer’ to bodies it was funding – in what amounted to an unprecedented public dressing down.

Joyce McMillan observed that Creative Scotland ‘is still an agency that generates blizzards of impenetrable reports and strategies, in all of which principles like equality, diversity and inclusion loom large, along with the importance of arts for children and young people.’ Neil Cooper, writing in ‘Bella Caledonia’, commented that the agency was characterised by a ‘dunder-headed managerialism’ which is ‘a microcosm of a far greater global malaise’ – and that ‘Creative Scotland was an ideological construct from the start’. Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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