Without Arts Education

The more I think about the fact that creative subjects are not in the EBacc, the stronger I feel about it and I just have to get it out of my chest.

I was reading Time Out London handed out for free at the tube station last week. On the very first page – the content page – it endorsed: “The Hot List – The next seven days in the world’s greatest city”.

If creative subjects are not included in EBacc, I can guarantee that in 15 years time, it would probably read, “The Hot List: The next month in London”, featuring regular sections of Arts (no longer separated into the current sections of Film, Music, Clubs and Cabaret, Comedy, Theatre & Dance), Shopping and Style, Eating and Drinking and Time In. Maybe LGBT would stay, maybe.


I come from a country where there are no creative subjects in school curriculum. Arts are for those who have the extra money to spend and the extra time to spare outside of school curriculum. In other words, those few – like me. We cheer when we finally have people who want to make it as artists, but realise there is no audience, not big enough to make it a fully-functional industry.

We have several shopping malls the size of Westfield Stratford. We have food and drinks – of all cuisines and in various types of eateries – that open 24 hours all year long. We have hundreds of TV channels on our cable TV, featuring programmes all around the world.

But our TimeOut is published once a month, perhaps much thinner than TimeOut London and definitely don’t have the right to say we are the world’s greatest city.

“Great arts for all” (which makes creative industry and the national culture) is one of the best things that made England and the rest of the UK great. Arts audiences need cultivating from young age. Please don’t deny the right of children to have the access to arts. National curriculum is to educate the next generation who will shape the country with forward-thinking ideas, not for the purpose of “getting into university” or “getting a job”. If creative subjects are indeed only for those who are willing to spend the after school hours to work on them… What a huge, huge step backwards.

Share: 6 Lessons from Negative Reviews

This is a repost of part of Jenny’s post. Full original version here.

Before that, in a timely manner, I read this from Guardian Theatre Blog: Fail Safe.

6 Things I’ve Learned From Negative Reviews:
1. They show that you’ve DONE something. You’ve created something. You’ve pushed through your fear to ship something that matters to you.

2. Your work has spread to a wide enough audience to get real, honest feedback from people who aren’t on your payroll (friends, family, people who love us no matter what).

3. Negative reviews will come in, but guess what? THEY DON’T KILL YOU! Shocking, right? Our inner critics would have us believe the world will come crashing down, but it doesn’t. They might sting, but that’s it. It’s no gaping wound.

4. It’s an opportunity to re-examine what you DO like about your work AND what you don’t. The review can’t hurt unless you agree with it on some level. Use that information to make your work better next time. Is there anything you would do differently?

5. Negative reviews are a sign that you’ve done something different enough to piss someone off. Points for creativity!
6. I am LUCKY to have the “champagne problem” of a few negative reviews. Of reviews at all! I am very grateful my work is out there, and that it has garnered as much interest and support as it has.


There was this UFO table thing in the corner of Barbican Weekender, and appeared on the little screen on the side was the discussion topic: “Why the long queue for the rain room?” There were 2-3 people around the table, and a man sitting in the middle passing on the mic from one to another. They were talking about weather.

The atmosphere was easy and equal. I don’t like voicing public opinions, but it drew me in and I sat down by the table, and raised my hand to answer the question, “I think we are just being control freaks, we were never able to control the weather, and now we can have rain drops not falling on us, and we all wanted that.”

Questions and opinions – should we be in control; why do we want to be in control; realisation of we cannot control everything; controlling the weather to avoid catastrophes like Katrina and Sandy.

The topic changed from weather to being in control.

I raised my hand again, “Sandy made me realise that technology helped us be in control, but Mother Nature will always be more powerful. We have to be in control, yes, but we must also respect the environment we are in. Respect Mother Earth.”

The lady beside me chipped in, saying that there are billionaires are doing projects that are trying to control -something-, they are like the Bond villains who think they are doing good but actually not. The man across the table would prefer that he is in control because losing control is not a good thing. I said that it is not necessary to be in control all the time; we must trust human brain, when it loses control, it gains something else and very often, it is the “ah” moment, creativity.

The topic changed from rain, to weather, to being in control to human creativity.

I loved it. I love discussions. I love asking questions about “the norm”. I love challenging my own thoughts, even got into fights.. I mean, debates where I “attacked” the arts and my own profession – which happens a hell lot in public debates anyway. (If I couldn’t defend myself, everything I do now loses meaning within the wider context. But if I could, I will be very, very pleased.)

I hope to be in another Talkaoke soon.

Reverse side of a Talkaoke banner.

Define: Contemporary Dance

What a wonderful definition of contemporary dance by Sanjoy in this article! :

“If these pieces [of contemporary dance] shared anything, it was not style or substance or quality, but rather an underlying belief that the vision of their creators was more important than any particular tradition, technique or convention; a valourisation of idiosyncrasy, of creativity above conformity.” – Sanjoy Roy

Birthday Wishlist

I am not a big birthday celebration type of person but this year, 2012, I am using it as an excuse to draw up a wish list.

If you are reading this, please would you be kind enough to help me a step closer to what I want to do?

  • Travel funds: Airmiles, air tickets, hotel vouchers
  • Memberships to art institutions (e.g. Tate Modern, Royal Academy of Art, Barbican other membership schemes that I didn’t know existed)
  • A sturdy, lovely umbrella
  • Camera accessories: tripod; flash gun; camera shop vouchers
  • Books: Your favourite book – poems collections (Charles Bukowski?), personal development, or any Jonah Lehrer; Amazon vouchers; Kindle vouchers.
  • iTunes voucher – to download and keep my favourite films
  • Apple voucher – to get a new laptop

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet

Must admit – I recognised the name, mainly because of The Adjustment Bureau.
Whilst I normally avoid shows by company related to “ballet”, I was captivated by the trailer of the show.
So I decided it’d be good to go.

Collected ticket, seated, start.

I asked, “Are you the usual ballet dancers?”
“In 15 seconds, you will decide whether you like the show.” (voiceover)
OK, unusual start. Don’t confront me.

Then they crouched, as low as possible.
Live musicians.
Ah, it’s Hofesh.

And they moved, like a beast, with so much grace.
They flew and landed, and there was not a sound.
It was quiet, like a secret.

Hofesh drained all your energy
and asked you to be still.
And be still, you won’t.

But I didn’t get the story – I found no relationships.
Live music didn’t matter, might have just sounded the same…

“I should talk less, do more, maybe then people will like me.” (voiceover)
And you continued to act on the secret;
the secret that I don’t know.


I would get a programme, but I had only card.
So I walked to Stage Door to get some fresh air and to decide whether to get some cash,
And saw a dancer sneaked out for a ciggy
I was then sure I have time to go to the cash point.
But whatever. I will get programme and M&Ms, on card.

Bell rang.

It was so light hearted,
And we laughed.
It was not new,
the woosh and taks shown through quirky moves
but it reminded me of New York.
It works, but probably not again.

Interval. Curiosity. Googled.

Why is the company not touring much?
Founded by Wal-Mart heiress – wow!
What do they do when they don’t tour?
What is their business model?

OK, last piece, Crystal Pite. Expectations, sky high.

The soundscape was amazing,
as well as the set.
Maybe so was the choreography,
But all I was starting at, were
The dancers.

What are they?

Are they beasts with grace, in the most risk taking way?
Are they artificial beings, with incredible control in these falls and twirls?

I kept searching for answers.
But abruptly it ended.
Left me in an empty car park space, or an abandoned train station.

They came out and bow. In a line, hand in hand.
There was no hierarchy, and I found them incredibly contemporary.

So I said to myself,
Maybe it’s time again to see New York City.

Cedar Lake Cast bow

Cedar Lake Programme and Ticket