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#PlateUp

What we eat is one of the most important decisions that we make everyday!
Food connects us – to each other, to our culture and ultimately to nature, shaping the world that we live in. We depend on food to survive, but much more than that, it gives us pleasure, stirring memories and feeding emotions yet some of the biggest issues we face globally – from climate change to workers’ right and public health – stem from how and what we eat. As the distance between field and fork widens many of us feel detached from our food often not knowing where it came from or how it was produced.

Today, desire is mounting for a food system that is more sustainable, fair and delicious. As technology is reinvented and societies transform at an unimaginable pace, now is the moment to decide what kind of food future we want. What could it look like? What could it taste like?

This exhibition reconsiders the way we farm, trade, eat and dispose of food. It brings together creative interventions by artists and designers working with scientists, chefs, farmers and local communities to change how we eat, and transform and reconnect each stage of the food cycle.

The future of food is in our hands, nothing is off the table.

One piece within the exhibition that took my eye was Totmoxtle. Mexico has over 60 different types of native corn, growing in a brilliant spectrum of colours. In the 1990s the country adopted industrial agriculture techniques, causing a sharp decline in these diverse species and in local employment. In response, Fernando Laposse developed Totomoxtle, a new veneer material made from the discarded husks of vibrant heirloom corn varieties. Totomoxtle supports the villages of Tonahuixtla in south west Mexico, who are replanting once – lost corn species, by providing a secondary income from their corn.
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Handbagged is a comedy by Moira Buffini and has recently been produced by the New Vic theatre, directed by Fiona Buffini and designed by Olivia Du Monceau.

Handbagged is a show that imagines what might have happened when the two most powerful women in the country met in private. They look back over their relationship, and their younger selves. Peers but not friends the characters come face-to-face, often with clashing views and opinions, which welcomes the audience to see what might have happened in those secret meetings.

I felt the importance of producing a place such as Handbagged has been well placed in the context of our current social and political situations, the play welcomes us as an audience to have a deeper understanding not just about ourselves, but about the society we are living in.

The play highlights a time of huge social and political change and a time of great division and unrest. The Cold War was at its height and the possibility of a nuclear war was reflected in the music of the time (Two Tribes by Frankie Goes to Hollywood). It was a very violent time: the Falklands war, the winner’s strike, the protests and the rioting.

Handbagged is far more than a documentary, although all the facts in the play are true. It is a remarkable play for a number of reasons. Firstly the piece in my opinion is very balanced and the views of each side are represented. This means that the play can be enjoyed by people who love or loathed Thatcher, and by monarchists and republicans alike. Secondly, as a younger member of the audience the historical content of the piece was made clear and easy to follow, this also made it ring true to those who do remember. Thirdly despite some of the very serious subject matters, it is very funny. It never felt like a history lesson, a political diatribe or a lecture – I as an audience member was simply able to enjoy the characters.

Nobody knows what was really said in the meetings, nor what they really thought of each other. these two iconic woman seem very familiar to us and yet feel very hidden too. Neither of them were given to public displays of emotion, and the Queen avoids expressing opinion. The piece brings tremendous imagination, wit and depth to their imagined meetings and through them, we are encouraged to think about who we are as a nation. Which I feel at present day is a question we should be asking. 20190914_090918

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Directed by Olivier award-winning director Bijan Sheibani and designed by Rae Smith (War Horse).

This play span for a time frame of one day whereby we saw six barber shops each in a different city.

Barber Shop Chronicles is a heart-warming, hilarious and insightful new play that leaps from a barber shop in Peckham to Johannesburg, Harare, Kampala, Lagos and Accra over the course of a single day. With the main plot set in a barber shop, Peckham London.

It makes the case for the barber shop as a liminal space that unites the diaspora, as people breeze in to share stories, share a joke, share their love of Chelsea FC, and sometimes bear their souls.

For generations, African men have gathered in barber shops to discuss the world. These are places where the banter can be barbed and the truth is always telling.

The play influenced my research by allowing room to hold a political platform for African men. It saw for each shop to become a newsroom, political platform, local hotspot, confession box, preacher-pulpit and football stadium.

The play worked well along side the work currently showcased at the Round House and is the centrepiece of ‘Fades, Braids & Identity’, a season ‘championing the work of black and brown artists’.

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Its all go on the Arts & Project Management MA, semesters two’s core module is to develop an Events Plan. So far, we’ve had three lectures each focusing on a different area of events planning including; project scoping, event elements, critical success factors and team building/dynamics. We also have an extensive reading list covering the broader concepts and history of project and event management, as well as arts focused project management toolkits.
The assignment brief requires that we either take an existing project/event plan that pull apart and rework or the creation of a new event. I’ve opted to develop a proposal/plan for a festival that combines elements of art, history and politics consisting of live art performance exploring pivotal moments in the evolution of democracy in Britain, with a Birmingham focus. Combined with speakers and skills-based workshops.
So far, using the tools provided in lecturers and on Moodle, I’ve developed a Project Planning Model which has informed the following plan elements; scoping the project, developed the theme, objectives, project elements, identified potential funding and thought through critical success factors and secondary event elements. I’ve also sketched out potential human resources required for the planning and delivery for the festival and am making budgetary notes.
That brings me to the Gannt Chart, after completing a short exercise, translating the critical success factors and key tasks onto post it notes, and sequencing them on a wall, I began to manually develop a task list in an excel spreadsheet, and link together these tasks to show the dependencies between them. I’d seen them before, but always had an irrational fear of them, seeing a mass of indecipherable information on a sheet. However, with a little knowledge and the opportunity to create one, their value, simplicity and use are now apparent.

I then signed up to smartsheet.com which provides various customisable templates for project planning and have had fun playing with the programme for most of today, see below.
The image shows a first draft of a Gantt Chart, outlining 15 months of set up and delivery of a small festival.

So, I’m now looking forward to further developing the plan, and more fully engaging with the various tools, texts and toolkits we have been given to aid our learning. Future tasks include stakeholder analysis, creating a full budget, identifying and mitigating risk, Project monitoring and control, developing a marketing section and more thinking about a planning and delivery team and what that might look like. Oh, and lots of reading. Thanks for taking time to read this blog, and who knows, might even see you at the festival……

David Viney is a student on the Arts & Project Management MA.
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I’m David Viney, one of the Arts & Project Management MA students here at BCU

Today (9th Nov) we had quite an exciting series of lectures at Parkside, covering subjects as diverse as Audience Development, Networking Skills and Trend Forecasting.

With the teaching usually taking place at Margaret Street. It was my first set of lectures in Parkside, having been taught some modules on my BA at the old Gosta Green campus many years ago, it was interesting for me to experience this new(ish) building from a students perspective.

The day started with a lecture from Dean Melbourne, who taught us a systematic way to look at business networking, focused on how anyone can develop and manage relationships. A key skill in a sector which can often be based on freelance work and opportunities derived from the interpersonal relationships we create. As someone who is pretty rubbish at networking, it was great to have this paradigm shifting lecture, which has certainly instilled me with more confidence in engaging with people in a business context in future.

For lunch we gained a fascinating insight into the world of ‘Trend Forecasting’, delivered by Els Dragt: Trend researcher, trainer and author. Netherlands based Els has 15 years’ experience in trends forecasting. She gave us a rundown of FAQs she often gets asked in relation to her work, giving an overview of what trend forecasting is, its function and the methodologies employed to capture and analyse emerging trends.

Finally, we were given a lecture on Audience Development, by Caroline Griffin, who is a specialist in audience development and organisational change and has specific expertise in arts marketing, developing diverse audiences, using new technologies and the relationship between artistic risk and audiences.

Caroline had invaluable knowledge, shared in an accessible way. We were shown various cultural sector marketing tools, and had the opportunity to interrogate an Area Profile Report Plus, from The Audience Agency. We also spent time exploring Audience Spectrum, and its 10 segments. It was useful to begin to think of ways to map these data sources against each other, when thinking of marketing and/or audience development objectives.

Caroline also reinforced the distinction between marketing and audience development, which we had learned in previous lectures. We also looked at market positioning in an arts context, and had a fun exercise where we explored the concept of positioning further.

I gained a lot from the day…..
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Beth DerbyshireWelcome to the MA Arts and Project Management course. This course has been designed to help you explore how arts organisations, cultural spaces, and visual and performing arts projects are managed in different social, political and economic environments.

You will strengthen your knowledge and awareness of arts policies in different regional, national and international circumstances while gaining advanced organisational and marketing skills. This prepares you for life as a professional project manager, a PhD researcher or to work in other career sequels.

This stimulating course offers you a specialist education in Arts and Project Management. You will be encouraged to develop your knowledge and understanding in order to be effective in managing and promoting the arts within contemporary culture.

There is scope to work on live projects with external clients such as Selfridges and you will benefit from our close links with Ikon, Eastside Projects, New Art Gallery Walsall, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, and the lively alternative arts scene including: The Lombard Method, Grand Union, Trove, Stryx and MSFAC.