Thursday, 17 July 2008

Wise Up!

If you have a city, which has serious cultural (or lack thereof) issues, problems with alcohol related violence, a main street full of empty shops, what would you do?

Simple! Solve the problem of empty shops by installing more pubs and clubs! Of course! That's it! You see it seems that aberdeen's short sighted solution to one problem is increase another. I wouldn't mind a few more bars and clubs in aberdeen, actually thats a lie, I would like some different clubs and bars. There are plenty of watering holes in this city, but they are all homogenous, bland, generic bars all catering to one crowd. I have even been refused entry to a pub for being "too casual for the weekend"

It just seems whoever runs this city has no clue. Aberdeen is a joke for other cities, and deservedly so, every attempt to do something different and try something out comes with so much opposition, that it becomes just so difficult that the only available option becomes to go somewhere else.

I am still in Aberdeen because I got a pretty one-of-a-kind job, working in Grays, but if it wasn't for that I would be off. After this Project Slogan emerged and allowed us few Artists who stay here somewhere to show, and allowed a community to build. Art-wise Aberdeen is a lot less grim than when I graduated two years ago. Sarah has done so well and worked so hard to not just establish two spaces and two studios for recent graduates in Aberdeen, but to give the art community somewhere to get together, regularly and this can only be a good thing.

But even then Project Slogan struggles, against the completely culturally retarded city council. A council who blow trumpets about how they are investing in the arts when all they are doing is paying lip service to the Scottish Governments pledge to improve Scotland culturally. Any offer of support they can give seems to come with so many strings attached that they wholly compromise the objectives and integrity of those. This isn't support and it just goes to show a complete misunderstanding of what contemporary art is about.

What an artistic community needs to survive and grow is more than just some more galleries, we need inspiration, community, interesting cafes and non-chain shops and bars, and the ability to pay the rent and still have money to afford to make work. Aberdeen in it's current incarnation is built on the discovery of north sea oil and the money it brings. Greed and money fuels this city, it is much more interested in making a quick buck than improving the quality of life for the mass majority. This has led to the draining, a situation where people come here, to study or work and then leave, a completely transient community of people just stopping off then leaving again. Not once has the city appeared to question this drain, ask why people leave at the first opportunity, because in the grand scheme of things having an art gallery does not generate as much revenue as a Liquid Nightclub or a MacDonalds.

Any large building left empty gets sized up for a retail development or extortionately priced luxury housing, (as an aside, you can get a flat twice the size for almost half the price in Glasgow) which takes us back to the beginning, the main thoroughfare of the city is full of empty retail units, yet they keep building shopping centres.

This city needs to stop scratching its balls and actually look at the mess and the joke that it is, continually creating its own problems. Those in power need to take their heads out of their arses and have a look around the country and see what real cities are like.

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