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Big Lounge versus Big Society? / 3 August 2011

photo of sophie partridge wearing a bright pink wig

Sophie Partridge - hot from performing with the Rhinestone Rollers at the Greenwich and Docklands Festival

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Yesterday, having had a Care Manager / Social Worker imagine I can walk because she "didn’t want to wrongly assume I couldn’t", I’m really not in the mood to do the ConDems any favours. Not that I ever was! On realising I was not, as she had wrongly assumed, "able to manage a few steps(!?)" she then wrote in my Care Plan of my inability to Mobilise. What am I? An armoured tank?! In this so-called Big Society, I’d probably be better supported if I was.

In an attempt to support ourselves at least as Disabled Artists, several of us have formed a production company. I’m Blogging here not in fact to vent spleen against The Dark Powers of government but to announce to the world – via DAO – the launch of The Big Lounge Collective! Thus called because we meet in my big-ish lounge. We’ve come together in the hope we can make the work we really want – as no one else is going to do it for us!

The majority of our present Magnificent 7, are knocking on a bit and have become increasingly frustrated at the lack of progression in our working lives. Amongst all the various models for individuals working together collaboratively, we felt the term 'Collective' suited best as it’s informal enough to allow flexibility. We don’t all have to work on every project and are free to do other things! It’s the ideal relationship! That and the fact that most of us are 70’s throw-backs. Motivation for collecting together, being that we’ve all received funding to have work `in development' but few have got things in production.
Reasons for our limited success are of course varied and numerous: has it been good enough? what people want? sexy enough?! Haven’t we played enough with the Bigger Boys or does it simply not fit in any appropriate box?

In this Hard Times Era, the boxes grow smaller and competition to get in them is fierce. The day I had the sharing of my present piece 'Song of Semmersuaq', whose development so far has been funded by Grants for The Arts, was the day the axe fell on many Arts Organisations. I’m presently playing the waiting game to see if I can get funding to have Semmersuaq fully produced next year.

So how will the Big Lounge fare in the Big Society? One of the things we’ve been advised to do in our ventures, is be Physically Present for each other. To quote the old Disabled People’s Movement adage, "There is Strength In Unity". If we can Voice ourselves as Cripplys and be loud in our work about the things that affect Us, as well as those that affect All – such as The Cuts, Assisted Suicide etcetera, then I think & hope we’re gonna do pretty well! And isn’t the best Art that which reflects Universal Truths any way?

The B.L.C’s kettle is now officially on, so please do pop in soon for tea and let’s have Society 0, Lounge 100+!