A discussion about The Glasgow Effect chaired by Roanne Dods & Gerry Hassan with Darren McGarvey, Katie Gallogly-Swan & Ellie Harrison, held at the Glad Cafe as part of Imagination: Scotland’s Festival of Ideas.
Roanne Dods: Hello, good evening everybody. My name is Roanne Dods and it’s my great pleasure to welcome you all this evening for a discussion around The Glasgow Effect. We did have a completely full house with a massive waiting list and we will know who hasn’t turned up [laughs], we have your names, which is a shame because there were a lot of people I know who were just really, really desperate to come.
I’m really thrilled to have you here and I’m particularly thrilled with the group of people we’ve got here, coming to talk. They’re very, very brave people who’ve kinda put their necks on the line in very many ways. And I’m really grateful to them for that and also for coming to talk this evening. As we all know, this covers a whole range of issues, so I’m really pleased that Loki is here, Darren McGarvey, who’s a well-known rapper and activist and does some amazing work with the Violence Reduction Unit. And Katie Gallogly-Swan who is going to be working at Govanhill Baths and is an activist and who has worked for the Common Weal. And for course, Ellie Harrison who’s the artist whose project started this whole conversation. And my co-producer and mischief maker Gerry Hassan on the Festival of Imagination, who are hosting the event tonight.
We will certainly be going for a couple of hours, but I’m going to introduce Ellie first whose just going to say a little bit about how we’re going to plan the start of the conversation, and there will be plenty of time for a good robust discussion a bit later. Thanks, Ellie?
Ellie Harrison: Thank you. Can you hear me all right? OK… I thought this would be the one time in my life when I’d have a full crowd [audience laughs] and I’m so disappointed, I cannot believe it! [laughs] OK, so anyway, thank you lot for coming out.
It wasn’t my idea to organise this event. It was Roanne and Gerry’s. They got Loki to agree to it first, and they got Katie to agree to it and then I thought that it would be really rude and perhaps look slightly cowardly if I didn’t come along myself. And, you know, through all of this I’ve been thinking why the hell should I feel scared in the city where I live? Why should anybody have to feel scared in the city where they live? So I’m here [laughs], and I’m here despite the fact that actually all I really want to do for the next six months at least is keep a low profile, hide in my studio and get on with some bloody work. That’s what I really want to do, because it takes time to do good work. And one thing that I’ve really noticed over the last month is how our social media driven culture has completely lost all sense of patience. And it makes complete unrealistic demands for quick answers and results and totally undermines considered and thoughtful debate in the process. And the whole notion of doing anything ‘durational’ is that it will unfold slowly over time.
But The Glasgow Effect isn’t just about me any more. It’s not just my project. It’s all of your projects as well. It’s Loki’s project, it’s Katie’s project and… if you can see here [points at projection] it’s the 1 million people [laughs] who this event has passed by in their Facebook feed. It’s all of their projects as well. And it probably means something slightly different to every single one of you. And for me, that is the amazing thing about art and why it’s different from any other form of language, is that it can be interpreted in so many different ways, in order to create meaning in every single individual person’s mind, from their own perspective. So hopefully we’ll hear a lot more of your interpretations of this project later today. But before that, I just wanted to tell you a little bit about what this project means to me.
So, this project was, for me, more than was contained in this Creative Scotland funding application, which I wrote last summer for a project called ‘Think Global, Act Local’. ‘Think Global, Act Local’ is a phrase than I’ve borrowed from the famous Scottish thinker Patrick Geddes, which perfectly sums up how we should be addressing big global challenges, such as climate change. That is by shortening supply chains, reducing our need for travel, relearning important skills locally and helping to create strong resilient communities in the process.
But this title felt, to me, a little bit too worthy. Because I knew there was a darker side to what I was doing. And I can’t solve all of the world’s problems on my own no matter how hard I might try. So I decided to fit ‘Think Global, Act Local’ within a larger frame called ‘The Glasgow Effect’, and in doing so, to ‘zoom out’ and to try to make visible the wider social and economic forces at play. So it is a complicated and provocative project, and I’ve spent the last month trying to unpick exactly what it is I think I’m doing, and also trying to understand why it had the reaction that it did have at the start of the year. So I’ve now published a text on my own website, which tries to encapsulate what I see as my own personal motivations and what I hope to explore over the course of the year.
So, “it’s part psychological experiment (I’m definitely getting that!), it’s part protest, it’s part strike. The Glasgow Effect was initiated last summer in order to explore the relationships (both constructive and destructive) between the individual and the institutional structures (and in my part, those include the family, higher education, the artworld and the media), also the communities (both offline and online) and the economies (both local and global) within which that individual is forced to operate. The central provocation of the project is that I will refuse to travel outside Greater Glasgow for a whole calendar year.”
So that’s my take on it. But in order to open things up now, and to recap on a number of the different voices and arguments that emerged during that first week in January, we’re now going to collaborate and re-present some of the key texts in the order that they appeared in that first week in January. Because there are so many ideas contained within these, that we thought it would be useful for everyone in the room to hear them again, so that we’re all on the same page when we open-up into discussion. So, we’re going to start with want kicked it all off on the 4th January 2016 at 19:14 when the Daily Record published an article, which Gerry’s going to read for us.
Gerry Hassan: Well yes, fortunately I’m going to read you an extract of the Daily Record article. Not because it’s so long, as everyone will know that Daily Record articles are seldom long. But the headline on the 4th of January was “London artist paid £15k public money to spend a year in Glasgow for research project branded ‘poverty safari’.” Now that was under the by-line of Aiden Kerr and in the first paragraph of that said article, it said “Many have expressed further anger at the decision to name the project ‘The Glasgow Effect’, a term used to describe the poor life expectancy of working class Glaswegians.” So that’s the Daily Record.
Ellie Harrison: Then, [laughs] on Tuesday 5th January at 9 o’clock there was a phone-in on… [looks at Roanne] we can’t do the phone-in?
Roanne Dods: No, it’s too difficult.
Ellie Harrison: Oh, that’s a shame.
Roanne Dods: But do you want to keep explaining what happened?
Ellie Harrison: OK¸ so there was a phone-in, which we were going to play, [laughs] on BBC Radio Scotland, which lasted for an hour with people calling in, expressing their views – both positive and negative on the project.
Then, quickly followed Creative Scotland’s statement at 11 minutes past ten.
Roanne Dods: “Ellie is a recognised artist with and MA in distinction from Glasgow School of Art. Her idea articulated in a strong proposal with the working title ‘Think Global, Act Local’ met all criteria for Open Project Funding. It focussed on exploring whether it’s possible for an artist to generate an existence for themselves by living, working and contributing to a single community, as opposed to being constantly on the road because of the need to earn money from commissions from different places that incur costly travel and accommodation costs and high carbon footprint usage. Ellie’s project is based on the premise that if society wishes to achieve global change, then individuals have to be more active within their communities at a local level. In restricting herself to staying within the city boundaries she is keen to explore what the impact of this will have on my own life and her work as an artist with national and international commitments. Our funding will support Ellie’s creative practice in Glasgow and we will be interested to see how the project progresses. As part of our funding conditions we will require and evaluation of the project once it is completed.”
Ellie Harrison: OK. Meanwhile, I was in my pyjamas in my bedroom [laughs] getting rather stressed by all this whole experience, and feeling an immense amount of pressure to say something. So, I wrote a statement which I’m just going to read sections of. Probably quite a lot of you will have seen it. But there’s a lot in here, that… anyway:
“Hi everyone! [laughs] Thanks so much for your interest and engagement in the project [audience laughs], both positive and negative. Glasgow has been my home for seven and a half years, and to suddenly have a response like this to one of my projects has been quite overwhelming. You have given me so much material to digest that, it will take a whole year to do so and I hope to follow-up by meeting many of you face-to-face when all the fuss has died down. But before I sign off Facebook for a while, I would like to address the important questions raised about money. Anyone who’s done any research about me will know that I’m interested in the undesirable consequences of certain funding systems and I am working to set up a radical alternative: the Radical Renewable Art + Activism Fund, which will form the bulk of my workload in 2016 whilst in the city…
Like any provocative artwork, The Glasgow Effect has been devised to operate on many levels at once and the questions being raised about ‘community’ on/off social media in the last few days is certainly one of them. As much as I do care sincerely about the environmental issues raised by the project, as my previous work should testify, I also want to highlight the absurd mechanisms at play within higher education, which were its initial impetus. In the interests of transparency and to provide a more detailed context for the project, I will shortly publish the full text from my application to Creative Scotland…
(I was planning to do that anyway actually! I was planning to put out a lot more text about the project on the Monday morning before all of this happened. But I’ll explain more about why I was delayed doing that later if people want to know.)
The application was written over the course one month in June 2015 in order to fulfil one of the criteria for my three-and-a-half year probation for my lecturing post at the university. I was required to ‘submit a significant research grant application’… (I’ll just skip through this next little bit to this bit that I finish with…) The fact that this university, like most others in the UK now requires it’s lecturing staff to be fundraisers and is willing to pay them to be absent from teaching as a result, should be the focus of this debate.” That’s what I wrote. And then, it was over to Loki [laughs].
Darren McGarvey: Good evening everyone. My name’s Darren. Can I just start by saying that I definitely recognise having kinda looked back on the manner in which I approached certain things, I can see that I also got caught up in that sort of gathering snowball of outrage and hysteria. What I’m trying to do is give people an understanding of where I think some of that comes from. I’m aware that you’ll have things to say and thoughts to share, so I’m just going to read kinda one long paragraph out of my piece. How many of you read the thing that I wrote? [many hands raised] Fuck, cool, nice one. [audience laughs] OK, well you won’t need to hear it again then. I’ll just read this one paragraph:
“We have to get honest with ourselves about where scepticism of certain forms of art and culture comes from. It comes from the fact that we are now living in two different worlds. In working class communities, symbols of culture and identity are ripped out, renamed, sold-off, mysteriously burned-down, gentrified and/or demolished routinely, in the name of progress. This progress usually comes in the form of a road, which connects affluent towns and suburbs to shopping destinations in cities. Then there’s the constant back drop in which schools are closed, regardless of what local people think, common land is handed to private developers regardless of what people think. And public spaces are locked up at weekends due to funding cuts, while suburban Scotland now frequents the swanky shopping village, now perched on the periphery of these criminally under resourced communities. These shopping districts superimposed on the receding cultural landscape are hailed as the solution to poverty and are always given new names, which subtly disown the history, heritage and culture of the local people in that area, who now work there for peanuts. So when Creative Scotland decides to bankroll one person’s investigation into how being stuck in Glasgow with no road out affects your social life, career and mental health then you can understand why some Glaswegians are going to be fuming about it.”
So my piece was… well I guess there was a number of reasons why I chose to come in the way that I did. First I want to explain the term ‘poverty safari’, which I thought was a brilliant fucking term to be honest. Because it sums up for me something fundamental in my experience as a young person in an area like Pollok. Pollok is a place I talk about so much, I’m actually like a parody of myself when I do it, because you can’t be from anywhere except ‘Scotland’ these days. But anyway, that’s another debate for another night [audience laughs].
So ‘poverty safari’, but in that I meant even if you’re not coming to investigate poverty, if you’re truly going to immerse yourself in the milieu, then you’re going to come up against poverty, because that is, as evidenced by the title of the project ‘The Glasgow Effect’, as evidenced by the work of Harry Burns who came up with the theory, then poverty, unfortunately, and all the social ills that come with it, is Glasgow’s defining characteristic. Therefore, if you’re going to do a project for a year and it’s not about poverty, that’s an issue in itself. But a lot of this stuff gets lost in translation, because what we’re doing essentially is we’re speaking across a widening gulf of experience, which I’ve tried to kinda outline there in that paragraph. But like I said at the start, I do recognise I’m extremely sensitive to it and I’m sorry for anything that I might’ve done to upset anyone, in particular, Ellie. I just follow my instincts like any person would. And my instinct told me, this is an opportunity to get the issue that you’ve been representing since you were a young person in Pollok back onto the agenda. I’ll just leave it at that.
Roanne Dods: Thank you.
Katie Gallogly-Swan: “Disclaimer: because neither of my parents finished high school, because I’m from Coatbridge and have seven brothers and sisters, grew up in a series of schemes as the Coatbridge high-rises were successively flattened and only ate my first raspberry at the age of twenty, I’m allowed to voice the following opinions. Disclaimer: because I ride a bicycle, order a veg box from Locavore, have a humanities degree, make my own homemade gnocchi and dabble in ironically old-fashioned hobbies like knitting and hiking, I’m allowed to voice the following opinions.”
I started my article with this sort of dichotomy, because I felt like a lot of the conversation was about these ‘two worlds’ that Darren was referencing. Two worlds that I feel like I straddle myself sometimes. And it was frustrating to me that that sort of texture in a class debate wasn’t being had, that sort of complexity that you find in an increasingly complex class system in Scotland, wasn’t really being allowed in this debate. Rather it was an ‘us versus them’, or a ‘we are this group’ and ‘they are that group’ and very combative and not about finding a common ground.
And, I understand why that might have to be the way that the argument is set up, but for me it didn’t feel like it represented my experience and that kinda frustrated me. I don’t think it’s as simple as that in Scotland, as I said. I think it’s almost policing about proper ways of behaving if you are from this sort of background and proper ways of behaving if you are from a different sort of background. And then the ways that those two people should be interacting. And I don’t think that’s good enough. I’m not satisfied with it.
I have a lot of solidarity with a lot of the concerns that Darren has brought up, because I also sometimes feel locked-out of a conversation about arts in Scotland and only used when my voice suits the agenda of the person who needs it. But then at the same time, I don’t think that this is just about publicly-funded art, and a lot of people voiced their opinions about that and revealed a conflicting… some people were for it, some people were against it. And I think there’s a whole host of reasons for that too. You know, a systematic alienation of people who feel devalued by the wider mechanisms of capitalism. But it’s not just about publicly-funded art. It’s also about women in the media. It’s about monstering people. It’s about social media and that snowball. It’s about a lack of empathy and being able to understand that human on the end of that social media. And it’s also about the ‘Scottish cringe’ [audience laughs].
“How Scottish are you? Did you grow up on a scheme in the central belt? Have your home demolished several times through ‘regeneration’? Ate a pizza crunch for lunch cos that’s all your tuck money could get you and you were too ashamed to accept the free ticket your poverty afforded you? Learned to hide from the TV licence man, the tax man, the polis, the council, and obviously, the provvy?”
I said this because for me I sometime feel like there’s sort of alternative privilege in Scotland that we don’t really talk about all that much. And I use it as an armour myself. I use it to gain authority, to gain the upper hand in a conversation. Because I feel like that experience lends me that authority and allows me to say what I want about Scottish Culture or the experience of poverty in Scotland. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing. And I’m saying this coming from a very specific experience. Just to give you a bit of gratuitous background. I come from Coatbridge. Those things I said about myself are true, but I also, when I was seventeen left Coatbridge and went on a scholarship to Harvard in the US and spent four years on a scholarship there. So as someone who studied anthropology, I almost did my first ethnographic fieldwork with some of the most privileged people in the world [audience laughs]. And that experience gave me, at first a lot of bitterness and frustration at the lack of understanding in my experience. But by the end of that, a very large and well exercised empathetic muscle. And I don’t think that using my own pain or experiences in poverty… directly or inadvertently… experiences in poverty gives me the authority to tell someone else to shut up.
“You see in Scotland we do this really funny thing that I used to think was unique but turns out a lot of places all over the world do this. We simultaneously oppress and silence the working classes while using the ‘authentic’ sound of our voices to legitimise and explain our ‘culture’. As well as this, we eradicate the middle class stake in a Scottish identity (because they haven’t experienced all that pure authentic stuff like alcoholism or domestic violence, right?), while enshrining in the country’s education and labour infrastructure their dominance in administering and king-making in the national cultural ‘scene’. And what does this mean? They both lose out. The working classes are very obviously the most disadvantaged, since their lack of economic freedom means they have limited access to not just basic needs, but the levers of power and participation that would allow them self-determination.”
So you can see that I’ve got a lot of things in common with Darren in my opinions on this. But I also think that someone who is a practising artist who has developed her craft, who’s showed a dedication to her work also has the right to a living wage. So maybe in more ways than one I straddle these two identities and I don’t think it’s quite as simple as some people would want it to be… or want it to be simple. But, I don’t think it should be fitted in a box. And I think that any conversation moving forward in this needs to be enriched with that complexity, needs to be full of empathy, because I’m not satisfied in having an ‘us and them’. Because that takes no account of the larger structures which allows that inequality to grow. And that’s what I’ve got to say, thanks.
Roanne Dods: Thank you very much.
Ellie Harrison: Shall I just finish up with this? OK, and then, so that was the 6th of January that Katie… Where were you when you were writing that Katie? At work? [laughs]
Katie Gallogly-Swan: I was coming home on the bus from Edinburgh.
Ellie Harrison: You actually wrote it on the bus?
Katie Gallogly-Swan: I was just so angry! [audience laughs]
Darren McGarvey: I have that effect on people.
Roanne Dods: Can I just ask people to sit down before? Sorry, if there’s anyone at the back that wants a seat there’s a few seats… but if you don’t that’s fine too.
Audience Member: We’re fine thank you.
Roanne Dods: Just checking.
Ellie Harrison: OK and then… On the… actually it was on the Wednesday night… I got bombarded by media invitations to speak on things… like I could have done a Skype link to Channel 4 News or Newsnight and all the rest of it and I just felt so overwhelmed by it… and I decided to do one interview and to do that interview with CommonSpace. And to address some of the questions around the title ‘The Glasgow Effect’. So, I’ll just read a little section of that, which was published on the 7th of January.
“For the last few years I’ve made a conscious decision to work more in the public realm. Whether that’s literally in the streets, online, or in the mainstream media. I saw this as a way of critiquing the elitist nature of many of our arts institutions and of reaching people from all sorts of backgrounds who would never normally set foot in a gallery. This is something The Glasgow Effect has clearly already achieved. I see it as the role of the arts to stick their neck out in order to raise important social and political issues and although I’ve had to deal with a barrage of personal attacks, making myself into a middle-class punchbag [laughs], I don’t regret the decision to use the title ‘the Glasgow effect’. I was aware of the issue around class this would through up, but I wanted to expose the ‘tale of two cities’ which is highlighted by the two similar sounding phrases – ‘the Glasgow miracle’ which is commonly used in the artworld to refer to Glasgow’s post-industrial renaissance as a global centre of culture, and ‘the Glasgow effect’, which as we all know is it’s antithesis in PR terms.
I have long-been amazed how little of the art this city chooses to spotlight in its major venues has self-reflexive ability to acknowledge or deal with this. As a citizen of Glasgow, I sincerely hope that the discussion provoke by The Glasgow Effect will be constructive for our city, if it helps in anyway to highlight persistent inequalities and to democratise the artworld. We are still faced with problems and contradictions which simply should not exist in a city with such a proud socialist heritage. I will conclude, by using this once in a lifetime platform, to flag up just one of these, which as a public-transport geek, is a personal bugbear. Having campaign for the last six-and-a-half years for the re-nationalisation of our railways with Bring Back British Rail, I would love to see the people of Glasgow take a step towards transport equality by standing up and reclaiming our shambolic, rip-off bus network from First Group and the other profiteering bus companies, which many people simply cannot afford to use. I’ve got a year to help do it, so who’s with me?”
Step forward bus geeks. Watch this space. OK.
Roanne Dods: Thank you very, very much everybody. That was very powerful. We wanted to do that, so that we were all talking from the same place. And before, we just kinda go into the discussion I want to just try… just to get a little bit of a sense, before we go into kinda big statements and questions, just to get a little bit of feedback on what you’ve heard, what you’ve noticed about… just to get a little bit of something going… what did it make you feel? Just from what you’ve heard just now has it changed things? Just before we go into the kinda meaty stuff. It’s called ‘Statements of meaning’. It’s a critical feedback process used in the arts world. I use it all the time. But it’s just gets people just talking a little bit without making big statements yet. Anybody?
Audience Member: Can I say something?
Roanne Dods: Yeah, please.
Audience Member: The idea that you stand by saying, you know, that you like the idea that you called it ‘The Glasgow Effect’. Um, something that some of you know, Glaswegians know, is a lot of loved ones and relatives die in that process, and suffer. If you went to a Jewish city, would you be brave enough to call it ‘The Holocaust Effect’?
Roanne Dods: That’s a provocative way to start [audience laughs].
Audience Member: Is that bad?
Roanne Dods: It wasn’t quite what I was looking for but, OK.
Katie Gallogly-Swan: I thought it was great! [audience laughs]
Darren McGarvey: Well there’s a part in my article where I talk about that, and simply just say:
“For a minority this term is mechanical; describing how industrial-scale poverty finds expression through the population’s infamously poor health. But for most people in Glasgow, the city’s effects plays out in the creaky stages of unnaturally short lives, punctuated by incidents of violence, social exclusion and the all-consuming dread of life-long economic insecurity – while their entire existences are caricatured, vilified and misrepresented in every form of art, media and culture you can think of.”
Roanne Dods: Yeah, and can I just, for a little be of clarity about ‘the Glasgow effect’… now we may have some public health people here and we deliberately didn’t get public health people here tonight… but I just wanna say a couple of things about ‘the Glasgow effect’, which is that the Glasgow Effect came out of a piece of research from the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, where they were looking at a number of cities across the UK, including Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Glasgow that had a very similar demographic and the same sorts of class issues, but the issue for ‘the Glasgow effect’ is that the health impact was having an impact across all aspects of the demographic and nobody can understand why specifically in Glasgow that is the case. Does that make sense? So, it’s not just… it is about poverty, but it’s not just about poverty. It’s the fact that the whole of the city of Glasgow, the health across all sectors of society is worse than it is in other cities in the UK. And, there are more than seventeen different scientific theories for why that reason might be. Some of them around kinda emotion and confidence, some around self-esteem, some are sort of infinitely more scientific. But I just wanted to say… and to kinda acknowledge that it’s actually quite a specific term.
Before we go into the discussion because I know you’re all ready, I would just really love any sense about what you’ve noticed today, that’s different to what you thought or expected. Or just responding to, yeah?
Audience Member: I think Loki’s sounding kinda apologetic and I think like, maybe like a lot of people he kinda went off on one and made the same assumptions that the Record used. And maybe realises that those assumptions weren’t really that well informed.
Roanne Dods: Yeah.
Audience Member: And I think it’s quite helpful to hear him speak in that way.
Roanne Dods: Thank you, that’s lovely. Thank you very much. Yep?
Audience Member: I think to hear the origin of it as the Geddes statement ‘Think Global, Act Local’ has actually clarified… although I know you wrote it, I was taken away with all the other stuff as well. I think that’s clarified it much more for me, and I actually wish you’d just stuck with that title [audience laughs]. And I’ll just add an extra bit and that is, why is local Glasgow? Why not just a little bit of Glasgow? Because I think that was more what Geddes was talking about.
Roanne Dods: One or two other comments, just like that? Yep?
Jim Monaghan: The stuff that Loki wrote, was taken out of context. I’ve been following his stuff for a few years and it was a sort of ongoing theme and this was a sort of headline that brought that sort of thing to the fore. So a lot of the sort of criticisms of Loki’s thing was more a criticism of the people that commented on Loki’s thing and took up the thing, rather than what he was saying, because what he was saying, he’d been saying the year before and he’d been saying the year before and he’d been saying it every time a question comes up about Creative Scotland in the past and he’s said it before and it was in a context of this, it was a sort of combination of the debate… and it got a lot of headlines but the debate’s been ongoing…
And, can I just point out about the guy at the back about the Holocaust thing… I was a young rebellious artist who thought about the Sex Pistols and ‘Belsen Was A Gas’… artists sometimes do that stuff.
Ellie Harrison: I would like to comment on that. I think… in terms of this phrase ‘the Glasgow effect’, it’s important to separate out what it’s referring to and the catchphrase itself. Because the catchphrase itself… like you said there’s already seventeen different theories as to why this increased premature mortality happens in Glasgow, but what it is is a catchphrase that is being used to fuel an industry of overpaid academics coming to this city, writing countless reports, getting paid huge salaries and doing fuck all about poverty and that’s exactly what ‘the Glasgow effect’ is and that is what I want to challenge. And that is what I want to draw attention to. So, I’m sorry, OK [applause], but that’s another way of looking at it and that’s what I want to expose, that people are just talking, talking, talking and they’re not actually doing anything. These problems are getting worse.
Gerry Hassan: Ellie, you’re partly right there and I think, you know, there has always been a Glasgow industry about talking about Glasgow, and I mean Stanley Baxter’s ‘Parliamo Glasgow’, if people can remember that and heard the repeats of that – that’s a satire on a professor of sociology coming to Glasgow and taking the piss out of Glaswegians with fancy terms. Now, there’s a huge about of money in Public Health in Glasgow, a huge wealth of public services, but it’s not quite fair to say “academics coming to this city”. They are academics mostly in this city who are mining an industry that we can then talk about, a fact of note. What’s it doing? ‘The Glasgow effect’ in a sense, as Roanne was saying, came from Glasgow Centre for Population Health. Now, this was made by people like Dave Walsh, and David’s other researchers and propagated by Phil Hanlon, professor of public health and a whole host of other people, Harry Burns and there’s even a book by Carol Craig on Glasgow, which has popularised it, more to the extent that people think Carol Craig invented ‘the Glasgow effect’, which she didn’t. What we’ve got to talk about here a little bit is the perils of success, to an extent.
So ‘the Glasgow effect’ was trying to get to the point that we already knew poverty kills people, we don’t need to spend a single penny of public money on that, that’s self-evident. What has been happening in Glasgow is that something in the culture of Glasgow adds a missing ingredient, and so this then leads to people saying ‘the Glasgow effect’ kills poor people earlier. It doesn’t, it effects every demographic of this city. So if you are a rich person or an affluent person coming from London or the South East within twenty years you embrace the demographics of ‘the Glasgow effect’. There’s something going on here. And people think it’s about basically, the psychological response that we have to deindustrialisation and what happened from the mid-seventies to mid-eighties in Glasgow.
But what happens you see is when then we start referring to it… like how life is complicated… we all refer to things at times, because we can’t help it, we have to, that we basically don’t understand. We talk about you know, ‘the SNP’ or ‘Tories’ or we talk about ‘the Bedroom tax’ or things like that. And so ‘the Glasgow effect’ has become summarised to lots of people as ‘Glaswegians are killed by poverty’. And so what’s happened is the perils of success mean that a theory that began to try to break out of the pathologising of Glaswegians has ended up pathologising Glasgow, has ended up making poor people sound like, again, the victims of all these broader trends when it tried not to. Now that I think is something that is really, really problematic. It doesn’t give you a chance to take power. It doesn’t give you a chance to talk about structural inequality. And this has become so problematic as it turns full circle, that the people who invented the theory are now trying not to use the term ‘the Glasgow effect’ now, because they know, they know they’ve kinda ended up creating something that kinda devours its own children basically [audience laughs].
So that’s a success in a way, but it’s a problem and also as Ellie said, I mean Glasgow Centre for Population Health, which is – disclaimer: my partner worked for three years a couple of years ago – it hasn’t addressed, from this world class research, what the hell we do with it. You know. So poverty kills, but something in our culture kills as well. Right, great, we lead the world on it, what do we do about it? That’s the question.
Roanne Dods: Yep. Do any of you want to respond?
Darren McGarvey: I was gonna say, I agree with Ellie’s assessment about there being a ‘poverty industry’ essentially. Um, an example: just think about this for a minute right – the third sector in Scotland right, is comprised of hundreds of different organisations all carrying out different work, a lot of it creative industry type work right, is worth £5 billion a year. £5 billion a year, so it’s as big as the food and drink industry. It’s recession proof. Do you know how many people it employs? 138,000 people and it relies on the altruism of 1.6 million volunteers. Now just think about that for a wee minute. This is a booming part of our economy and a lot of it is about managing poverty. It’s not about eradicating poverty. So that’s why we struggle with the nuance. That’s why the terminology gets lost in translation. Because there is no terminology. There is no language to cross the divide and communicate effectively, because too many jobs depend on the status quo as it is. Whether we’re independent, whether we’re part of the Union. Now when you grow up in a housing scheme or you grow up in a poor community, you might not have the terminology and language, and understand the map of where all these organisations are, but you get a very, very strong sense. Because every time you open your mouth and say you don’t want something to happen, it happens anyway. You get a very strong sense that naebody gives a fuck what you think or what you say. And that is where the apathy comes from. And the apathy, the lack of political engagement, the lack of political awareness is a big contributing factor as to why the status quo continues. Because the only way it’ll change is when people are critically engaged and demand that it changes.
Part of my frustration with The Glasgow Effect as a project, was it didnae seem to be dealing with any of these things, which for people who come from my experience these are pertinent issues. Now I know not every arts project can deal with these things, it’s just cause it was called ‘the Glasgow effect’, I thought that’s what it was gonna be about. That was where my assumption came in, you know?
Roanne Dods: Do you what to say something? I’ve got something to say…
Katie Gallogly-Swan: Yeah, on you go.
Roanne Dods: I just want to pick up one wee thing which that, we don’t have… about the language thing, which is that actually when Katie was talking she was talking about texture and complexity and empathy and that kind of language. That language everybody’s got, surely? That kinda human language. I mean, I totally get that you have to stand up to things, but the language of being human, which was one of the things that really upset me about the whole thing, was you know, disrespecting individuals, whatever side of the argument you’re on. That was, for me, one of things I found really difficult to connect into.
Katie Gallogly-Swan: Yeah, just to feed off of that. I think that, similarly, I was frustrated, because it felt like a lot of the rationalisation of the response I followed and understood… But then, if you follow that to its logical conclusion, then that means that any sort of stereotypical middle-class response of not understanding the experience of poverty and thus… you know, making some decisions that may not be accessible to certain people or might actually cordon-off arts from people, shouldn’t that also be then accessible, because we’re all human and we make mistakes, and if you’re trying to stretch beyond your experience that makes it difficult. But I don’t think that complete fool proof, because, by virtue of being more privileged you should have more access to understanding the experience of others and being able to have more access to education which provides you those tools. But then at the same time, I think that… if we’re gonna forgive people for, at the end of the day, throwing a lot of abuse Ellie’s way, then we also need to forgive the fact that, people are human and they make mistakes. The problems if that some of those mistakes sometimes do end up perpetuating things like ‘the Glasgow effect’. And it’s not just about, you know, funding getting lost, it’s about people’s lives… But I still go back, at the end of the day, to being human and that empathy for the other and that empathy for, perhaps, not jumping to conclusions, not jumping to judgement, which social media has no elegance in whatsoever, and perhaps why we’re sitting here today.
Darren McGarvey: Can I just respond to that? Maybe Gerry or one of you’ll know (in fact we were talking about it the other day Tam). There’s a very famous kinda triangle diagram, which is someone’s theory putting forward, that once you meet your basic needs in life, then you jump up a level…
Roanne Dods: Maslow.
Darren McGarvey: Aye, so let’s take a theory like that…
Roanne Dods: No [laughs]… No it’s good. Go for it.
Darren McGarvey: No, sorry I thought this was like the progressive left in Scotland where we superimpose anything we like onto everything? [audience laughs] Sorry! Does this not fit no? Aye OK, so… this idea that just anybody, from any kind of background has access to emotions like gratitude and tolerance and empathy is just patently false. Because when come, when you live in the daily grind of poverty, then your whole experience is shaped by that. And that’s why you get zenophobia in communities. I’m not making excuses for people who hate other people, but a lot of it is misunderstanding, picking the wrong targets for your frustration. And people just don’t have the time or the energy. I mean, part of the whole process and experience of living in these communities is to spend every last bit, every penny you’ve got on things that ease chronic stress, that also kill you slowly and painfully. You know? That’s why people make jokes about the ‘hallouminati’, that’s why people make jokes about people who go to… it’s a way of just ‘punching up’… It’s futile. It’s a way ‘punching up’. There’s nae serious kinda judgement going on. You know?
Katie Gallogly-Swan: But then I think the problem is… when it becomes that ‘punching up’ turns into a serious thing. I mean I don’t mind my sister making fun of me for being a vegetarian and ordering my veggie box. I couldn’t give two shits. But the problem is when that’s used as a marker of difference. And then my sister uses her buying a… I don’t know… I don’t even know what she buys, but… [laughs] buying something that is patently unhealthy and bad, because she sees that as a part of her identity and her own personal… when we get to that stage we have to realise that that’s not a divisive ‘punching up’, it’s not doing us any favours.
Roanne Dods: Yeah.
Gerry Hassan: Can I just make a wee bridge between Roanne and Loki there… I mean innately we should be able to have some sense of love and insight and empathy. But lots of us at points fail that. Probably we all fail at some time. And I think that Loki actually you’re right and that it’s more complex than that in that again it’s not just about poverty in fact. If some of the issues we have in this city and this country about ‘empathy deficits’ are people with loads of money. You know? People who swan around to caring about the fact that one third of the city is written off or that issues of Celtic and Rangers or the worst Celtic and Rangers fans have with each other. I happened to put my head above the parapet this morning and wrote a piece on Graham Spiers getting sacked from The Herald. And actually the hate mail on twitter was kinda low-key actually. Kinda low-key and it was mostly actually… but somebody said to me… ‘cos you lived in a council house 40 years ago, you think you know, you think you’re in touch. You’re not’. Well actually it was 25 years ago that I live in a council house. But the point about kinda trying to bring us down, you know?
There’s a problem there and it touches on your point you made Katie about the silences in Scotland. We’ve got so much noise and we don’t listen to the silences… we don’t notice the silences… we don’t notice the gaps in public live and the missing voices. And you know, to me still, the Referendum, with all its faults a problems was a cathartic wonderful moment of ‘the missing Scotland’ coming back. This city that had one third voting levels for all the previous Westminster elections… we bemoaned the fact that it had 75% turnout. The lowest in the country, but it was more than double. So I just think it’s complex and lots of us bear this transition… I don’t mean negatively bear, we’ve experience this transition of growing up with working class parents who supported us and nurtured us and nourish us and our lives a different now, that we are middle class and there’s all the kinda complexities about that, but we don’t want to buy into like… not have some sort of link and connection to a different kind of society, to not buy in the claptrap, to not believing you know, the way politics are in Westminster. And that’s complicated. That’s really complicated. And where is that articulated in our politics and in our culture or our public life?
Darren McGarvey: Exactly.
Roanne Dods: I think, I mean it’s a massively rich… as you can see I think the views are really extraordinary, just hearing the complexity of all of that. And, of course, there’s quite a few things that we haven’t even touched on, that haven’t been brought up in all those conversations, so please feel free to come in with questions now, or ideas. The lady at the back?
Audience Member: I was wondering if I could just ask a quick question, before putting anything forward?
Roanne Dods: Yeah, of course. You don’t need to have opinions, you can ask questions too.
Audience Member: Ellie, were you surprised by just quite how large the whole following of it and the commenting on it became? Did you expect that kind of sort of audience for the work?
Ellie Harrison: No. Because I make Facebook events all the time and it’s just like tumbleweed [audience laughs]. So, no I don’t think… And I people say, did I set out to make a deliberate controversy. No. Um but, I knew what I was doing was addressing some difficult systemic issues, and it was… No [audience laughs]. I don’t think… nobody could create that. Nobody could create that. It was just a perfect storm, and people say that it was also because it was Bank Holiday, it was the beginning of the year, it was cold weather, nothing was going on…
Audience Member: With that in mind, do you think that this in a sense, it could be that this reached a certain demographic, or a certain class, or a certain group or community, whatever you want to call it, that otherwise might not have been aware of it, or your work, or similar work in fact.
Ellie Harrison: Yeah, I mean… well I have my theory about why it happened and it’s because normally when I would make an event, or anyone in the arts would make an event, they would put a venue. Whether it’s the Glad Café, or CCA or somewhere. Whereas, I made this event, and I just put ‘Glasgow’. And so anybody on Facebook who’d ever had any connection with Glasgow: ‘liked’ Glasgow, had been to Glasgow, lived in Glasgow whatever, I think it had a chance of showing up on their radar. So immediately, that just cuts across the entire demographic of the city, and meant that it was just on the radar of people who would never have any contact with art at all. And that’s a really great thing. And you know, like I said in my statements, that a lot of this, and, you know, I was prepared to put myself on the line to draw attention to the elitism that prevails within the artworld, which makes me so angry, and also the apathy and the… total lack of engagement in any serious social or political issues in most of the art that I see, not just in this city, but across the whole of the UK…
So, you know, I’m trying to address that in the funding scheme that I’m trying to set up, which is actually… the idea is to use renewable energy to create… a new funding stream for radical art and activist projects that will try to create systemic change within arts funding to encourage more political practice. Because you know at the moment, the way things are going, people are doing the opposite. And… with cuts to public spending, which of course is across the board, but also affecting the arts, the alternative is always to go more commercial, to compromise what it is you believe in and to not take so many risks. And so we’ve got all of these kinda of these issues which need to be debated out in the public realm, and at the same time, we’ve kind of got a shutting down of voices and the role that culture can play in inspiring people and giving them a voice.
Audience Member: Yeah, absolutely… As a sort of artist as well, I thought oh my god if I found myself in that position, if I’d have done a similar event and then suddenly it had gained that kind of thing, I’m sure actually for most of the art I’ve seen recently, people would have the same kind of attitude towards it. But then I was brought back to the concept that this was defined as a ‘public art piece’. And then what responsibility do we have as creators, as artists or designers have in taking that word ‘public’ and that informing the piece of work that we’re doing. And what responsibility does creating ‘public art’ have, you know do we think about the audience as ‘the public’ and in which case, should we be thinking about the largest reach that a piece can have, and thus what we create for those people?
Roanne Dods: Thank you.
Darren McGarvey: I was gonna pick up on… I think one of the reasons why… it’s difficult for culture and art – and let’s be careful when we talk about culture and art – we’re talking about culture as commodity. Culture’s just the way we talk to each other, do you know what I mean? And how our customs and all that, so that’s all fine, that’s all just the way it is. But… in terms of the way that we actually try and pour culture into communities and get people into art, the whole process of doing that part of… what sows the seeds of resentment. Because what that means is, and it’s part of the reason why I jumped to the conclusion about Ellie being ‘parachuted in’, was that arts organisations are given…
Ellie Harrison: I’d met you before [laughs]
Darren McGarvey: I was gonna talk about this same thing, probably at some party full of ketamine like that… poverty! [audience laughs]
Ellie Harrison: Sorry.
Darren McGarvey: I can keep talking noo, I’ve got green tea in my bag… anyway to get back to my point… big arts organisations, tent-pole arts organisation, which I couldn’t name because I would be unemployable, are given millions of pounds a year and they’re given arbitrary things that they need to go and do in order to justify getting that money. So one year it might be ‘youse are noo sorting our disused land’. If you want money do that. So an arts organisation that’s usually set up to deal with one kind of art has to then re-orientate itself and start doing the ‘disused land’ stuff. So that’s one problem. The second problem is there’s no communication between these arts organisations when they go into communities, like the Gorbals, like Cranhill, like Pollock, Arden, Darnley, boom, boom, boom, I could list them all day. So what they do it is, they ‘parachute in’ and they parachute their people in and they install their own temporary hierarchy, which ignores the natural order of things in the community. So they don’t negotiate entry winto the community which is just best practice, right? So that just pisses people off! Because people are there in that community, the artist that lives in that community is like that: ‘who the fuck are these people?’ And then, if they happen to talk with a certain type of accent, that’s were the judgement happens. So that’s one of the problems with that.
And then the other component to this is, the social-justice loving SNP Government that we all know and love [audience laughs]. Obviously we’ve now had a succession of Council Tax freezes. Last year in Glasgow, in order to adjust to that reality Glasgow City Council had to shave a certain about of money off of community budgets, right? So they core funded The Arches for example, which suddenly is off the map for whatever reason. But as well as that, they had to cut around about 20% across the three years off some of the smallest local organisations, that deal with arts and culture, engage young people. They had to cut those budgets. Now that benefits the bigger organisations that can absorbs that, the organisations that have someone who specifically goes and finds the funding. But most of these organisations don’t and £15,000 is enough to fund two part-time workers for a year for example…
Roanne Dods: Or one full-time [audience laughs]
Darren McGarvey: Aye, Aye, you know what I mean though. So when people are… when we’re talking about culture in communities we have to understand the mechanics of it, but we too often talk in these kinda loose lefty terminologies right? But the actual mechanics of it, the mechanics of privilege, the mechanics of how funding is diverted and where the cynicism and apathy come from…
Roanne Dods: Can I just say one thing? Is that, it’s not all organisations are not all bad. And they’re not all bad at it. Some people are quite good at it. Just like you’ve just said, some people are. It’s not all…
Darren McGarvey: What one do you work for? [audience laughs]
Roanne Dods: I don’t.
Darren McGarvey: It’s not about good or bad. That’s not what I’m saying…
Roanne Dods: I know you’re saying it’s systemic, I totally get that, totally get that. Gentleman at the back?
Audience Member: Stephen Watson, I’m a mathematician so I’m quite far removed from this culture and arts world. I had only peripherally noted this ‘Glasgow Effect’ story and had not gone into it and I came here tonight mainly out of curiosity. Now, Mike Russell, former Education Minister gave his inaugural lecture in the University of Glasgow last night, Professor of Culture & Governance. And interesting that those two words have been put together. Now one of the things he highlighted as he was reflecting and looking at where we are and how we got here and where we might go… He specifically stated that (I’ve got it here beside me), that the current culture of appointment to public bodies must change and he talked about the need for a National Recruitment Agency, and I think these types of ideas might help speak to the sense of democratisation of these bodies, so that’s something I’ll throw out.
I’m sort of curious about the data I’ve accrued over the years in the sort of the middle class, academic, scientific study. When I kinda sample students, faculty, visitors and… pose questions around ‘the Glasgow effect’ and discover that most of them have never heard of it. So what I think is really interesting is who in this audience is well familiar with the issue to the extent to which is percolated through the sort of academic world, is not clear to me. I regularly pose questions like ‘what is the proportion of children in Glasgow living in relative poverty?’ And generally I get looks of bemusement and confusion when you push forward data like: one third. Now there’s a PhD student currently at the University, she’s born and bred in Glasgow and she’s studying the health… I think it’s the mortality around heart attacks, and she’s puzzled to discover (I I was discussing this with her just yesterday) the remarkable difference in data between Edinburgh and Glasgow. And this is a mystery for her and I said ‘have you heard of the Glasgow effect?’ Answer ‘no’. So again I wonder, to what extent this is a bubble to some extent that we’re living in, in this environment and that this issue of ‘the Glasgow effect’ hasn’t really actually become common knowledge even yet. So that’s sort of I guess my question, is it common knowledge?
Katie Gallogly-Swan: I feel it is common knowledge, but it’s just been accepted. That’s my own personal sort of feeling… I was really lucky enough to have Modern Studies teachers who were eager to educate all of us in such a way that we were taught about the poverty that we were experiencing, and part of that was measuring up what the life expectancies of Coatbridge was, and comparing it to, you know, your typical Bearsden or Milngavie. And we were just taught, that’s what we’re up against, but we were never really taught how we fight it. And I really appreciate those teachers for being able to impart that sort of self-reflexive information up to the students who were in that classroom. But I think there is a certain sort of apathy, especially in my own community, perhaps even just in my own family, that’s the way it is.
Stephen Watson: One of the things I wanted to feed in, because I’ve been enjoying recently this phenomenon, of things being written it what we would call ‘Modern Scots’, so there’s this issue where The National printed their front page, and thatd generated some interest, you yourself have written some articles which I enjoy reading, and I’m going to make the following statement: this is the language I grew up with and I read your articles and I discover words that I’ve never seen written down before. So one of the things that I’m sure of or quite clear of is that s substantial proportion of children across these lands who enter classrooms in primary school and are robbed of that recognition that the language of home, the familiar is not legitimate. So actually, I’ve got a strong sense that some of these issues around what we’re talking about here, is this sense of immediately, straight up, day one of education for these kids something that happens in your home is not legitimate. And that delegitimising of their experience I think has a profound and fundamental effect on development and psychology. So that’s another sort of thing I wanted to throw out.
Katie Gallogly-Swan: Just to follow up on that. I think that’s a hundred percent true… From my own experience, I just went to your standard Roman Catholic primary school in Coatbridge, but every child in my primary school from the age of five got elocution lessons. When you went into the next primary only the kids that were at the top of their classrooms got elocution lessons moving forward, so that was only about ten percent of the school. And it was the selection of students they has decided were going to succeed in life, who were taught how to talk properly in order to be respected. That’s a systematic devaluing and oppression of working class culture and practice. And that was only about you know, seventeen years ago.
Gerry Hassan: I mean ‘the Glasgow effect’ is absolutely well-known and reference in a kinda bubble, a self-contained community academic circles, particularly it is become a mantra in public health and of course then as you were saying earlier Ellie, it’s certainly something people have gained international reputations on and so on. But what’s more missing is something about psychology and in fact it’s missing from most of our politics and public life, an understanding of psychology of power and powerlessness. Most people in this city, don’t feel very powerful about most thing, even most local things. And there’s this missing issue of ‘agency’ in this city. I mean how do you affect change in this city? I mean to my mind, I’m gonna just say in very black and white, but only a lunatic would think they would do it by going through Glasgow City Council or becoming a councillor or so on [audience laughs]… It’s a complex organisation, it does some things well, you know, it does. And there’s a whole pile of problem cultures in there.
And the one thing we haven’t touched on at all in this discussion is absolutely paramount to how this city runs and doesn’t run is gender. So years ago I did a project on the future of the city which was trying to actually basically get things like ‘the Glasgow effect’ and ‘the Glasgow miracle’ into the same conversation. In fact it was the public health people who wanted to talk about ‘the Glasgow effect’, the marketing / tourist people wanted it off the agenda, in case some Italian tourist walking down Sauchiehall Street felt they’d get stabbed. And so we thought, both these stories are true. Actually your chance of being stabbed walking down Sauchiehall Street is next to zero, and your chance as a tourist. And gender is part of this, because the people who are activists in this city are mostly women. When we ran the events – we ran forty events across the city – for our funders, all done as a nice matrix so it was all properly representative – two thirds of the people who came were women. Loads of them were activists. And the answer to ‘the Glasgow effect’ (this is on the 2001 census, not the latest census), is if you got to what was called ‘Shettleston man’, which became again another mythical creation in the bubble of the personification of the problem. What was the answer to Shettleston man? It was actually Shettleston woman to an extent, because the gap between Shettleston man and Shettleston woman in life expectancy was over eleven years… nearly double the life expectancy gap between men and women in this county. So it kinda looks like, and I’m just saying this to be slightly frivolous… Shettleston women put up all her life with Shettleston man etc. etc. and when he died, you know, they got a wee flip from him [audience laughs]. So there is something in it about how people manage social change and the kinda deindustrialised change that, again summarising it: women per se, working class women in the most deprived bits of Glasgow, have done it a bit more successfully than men.
Roanne Dods: The lady just there?
Audience Member: Speaking as a Shettleston-born woman [laughs]. What I’d like to do is go right back to the very beginning to the piece that you read out Gerry from the Daily Record, this is what makes me angry. Why are these people allowed to put something across like that and those headlines, that immediately, the people that don’t read a lot or that’s what they pick up. So immediately, there’s a whole constituency of working class people that go: ‘See there. There’s that woman, getting that money, for what?’ And you know, it’s not explaining anything. And this is what we get every single day in the papers and on the television. It’s headlines that don’t actually tell you what’s happening. And in effect… I’m not articulating this very well.
Darren McGarvey: It sounds pretty clear to me.
Audience Member: It totally reinforces all these things that we’ve been talking about. That Working class people don’t deserve art, working class people don’t understand art. They don’t understand it if it’s put to them in the terms that the papers put it across.
Darren McGarvey: Well that’s a big topic… I mean there’s lots of different ways to look at what would motivate a journalist at this point. I had my own intentions and I’m aware of the journalist and I’m aware of the Daily Record. So I went into that completely knowingly. Knowing that I would have access to a platform, where I could pursue my own agenda. Right? So these are decisions that we all have to make fae time to time. I would imagine that the journalist didn’t write the headline. And I would imagine that the person that did write the headline probably looks at it noo and realises that they also made and assumption as well. I think, I’ve learned to try and take instances of these sort of stories where I feel like the paper’s misrepresenting something, I try to now take them in isolation. And each instance that it happens because. Because I’m already extrapolating too many things from chaos to make sense of the world for myself. That I’m actually further and further out of touch with the reality of the situation, which is that there’s human error going on all the time, we take hunners of prejudice into every situation that we go into. There’s enormous inauthenticity in the left in this county just noo. Enormous inauthentic personas being adopted by people, signalling to other people that they’re ‘cool, hey yeah, right on’ load a shite! You know? [audience laughs] And that’s the left! You know what I mean?
So you can see why people are attracted to more reactionary populist figures across the world just noo. Because there… there with their comforting arms open like that ‘there lefties are all off their nut, they’re outraged about everything’… I know that’s feeding into something else, but it all come fae that. All that sense of drawing conclusions. so that one headline then gets added onto the next headline and the next headline. One of the problems with news, the biggest problem in news in Scotland is audience bias. Because you can’t control the news, that’s a dangerous road to go down. You need a critically engage public who can discern fact from fiction, truth from bullshit, advertising fae editorial. That’s the only safety net that you have. The only safety valve that you could have and should have. And unfortunately the press, the print media, as outrageous and fucking annoying as it is, we have to adjust emotionally to that reality, or become journalists.
Roanne Dods: They might not be around for so long.
Katie Gallogly-Swan: And also just to say… in response to that. We have to emotionally adjust, but just to go back to something you were saying previously… a lot of the folks… who might be more susceptible to reading that and buying into it, might not always emotionally have that space and time to make that judgement call, which is again why we’re here today.
Roanne Dods: That’s right. Yep Jim?
Jim Monaghan: You touched on two things Gerry said about gender and power, and also earlier on when you’d written this controversial piece about Graham Spiers you got a little bit of gentle ribbing…
Gerry Hassan: Well, I wouldn’t call it ‘gentle ribbing’ you know, but…
Jim Monaghan: This is the reality of social media, when a woman, when Ellie Harrison does it…
Katie Gallogly-Swan: When Angela Haggerty.
Jim Monaghan: …it is accompanied with a mass, a wave of misogynist abuse. Or it’s JK Rowling or Eddie Reader or Mary Beard or whoever else. And this Glasgow Effect thing, takes place in the… same context of all of these things. No matter what the issue was, when a woman put her head above the parapet, puts her face in the public and says something controversial… it gets quite scary. And it doesn’t happen if a man does it… There is a power thing going on. There is a sort of ‘shut up, out wi you!’ when a woman does it…
Roanne Dods: Sorry there’s a gentleman here and then we’ll come back…
Audience Member: Yeah, just on the Glasgow Effect thing, Alan and I work in the GalGael Trust in Govan. Now Harry Burns was quite a regular visitor down there, because he’d seen the work we’d done as one of the ways of possibly addressing some of the… symptoms of ‘the Glasgow effect’. A lot of it comes down to things like worklessness, isolation, poor diet… he reckoned I think one of the big things was just a feeling of lack of control over your life. Now he used to bring in one of two groups of international medical professionals and say ‘looks what’s happening here’, these people are being given a venue to come to where they feel safe, they’re given work to do, meaningful activity, they get a big network of friends, they get fed every day, they can get involved in rowing boats, big Viking ships up the Clyde and everything like that, the things we do… He recognised that there was quite a really simple methodology to it all. And we have a lot of academics come and visit the project all the time and the go away with all the information, we don’t know if it works for us or against us when it goes out. We don’t know, so I’m getting them noo to fill up skips and that, just to get something… [audience laughs] Get them in the lavvies and everything, because I don’t know where they go with all this stuff… It used to take up all my job dealing with students at that. It was good they came in, but for us it just felt that lots of money was just getting thrown into professionals to give them medication to look after them in prison, do do all the things like that. And these people are just as potentially talented as anybody here. What was that terrible phrase, ‘who knows what Pavarottis are in the poverati?’ [audience laughs]
There’s so much latent potential that could be contributing to their city, to their culture, yet where politicians don’t recognise the work that goes on in projects at grassroots level. I’d also like to extend an invitation for yourself to come down and visit us Ellie and just see a really positive message that might contribute to your work.
Ellie Harrison: Thanks.
Audience Member: I don’t know what you’re gonna do or anything about it, but if you wanna come down and see what we’re doing, I give you an invitation.
Ellie Harrison: Thanks.
Roanne Dods: Thank you. Now there was somebody just there and then I’ll come back. Yep?
Audience Member: A quick comment and then a question about the project. In terms of ‘the Glasgow effect’ thing, I think it’s a reasonable enough pun and there might be something that you’re able to address and give a new meaning to, that maybe has a positive effect on your art… and with the chips and so on, those chips don’t look too greasy to me, I’d certainly have ‘em [audience laughs]. I think it’s very much the kind of joke that we make in Glasgow, and you’ve graduated from Glasgow School of Art, you’re a ‘Glasgow artist’, you’re a Glaswegian as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been here thirteen years, you’ve been here six, you’re a Glaswegian it’s fine. But putting in a ‘London artist’ obviously means you’re not like us, you’re one of them, thousands of pounds of public money, London, get her! And off they went. I used to be a journalist, I know what they do. But I thought it was quite funny, it’s a half-decent joke having the chips up there, they don’t look greasy at all. I have a question though. It started off being Glasgow, then Greater Glasgow and then Strathclyde. I wondered what the constraint is? Because Strathclyde would’ve include all the towns in Ayrshire and Lanarkshire, you can go to Loch Lomond if you want, you can go to the Islands, that’s not that constraining. I would freak out, if I got told, you know, you can’t leave Glasgow for a year. I would loose the plot. If you can nip off to Loch Lomond, it’s not the same thing.
Roanne Dods: Thank you. On you go Ellie.
Ellie Harrison: It actually went the other way. In my application it says ‘Strathclyde’ and then I tightened it up [laughs].
Audience Member: I think that makes it more interesting for me.
Ellie Harrison: Yeah, but I do want to say something about the chips actually. Because, I mean, I am a Glaswegian artist, thanks for adopting me those of you who have [laughs]. I’ve been here… since 2008. One thing I noticed, the first day I was here, when I had a portion of chips from Blue Lagoon on Sauchiehall Street was… all this saturated fat on the paper. I used to live in Nottingham, that’s where I live before I moved here. All this white saturated fat on the paper. And I was like ‘what the hell is this?’… ‘Oh it’s cooked in animal fat’… Because I’m a vegetarian, obviously [audience laughs]…
Darren McGarvey: Hallouminati!
Ellie Harrison: I just thought, urgh it’s disgusting, but also that could have a huge positive health impact if all of the chips in Glasgow were cooked in unsaturated vegetable oil, rather than being cooked in saturated fat. Like, it just struck me… that this was just totally ridiculous…
Ellie Harrison: But… I would like to see whether those academics researching ‘the Glasgow Effect’ have ever gone into detail on that.
Gerry Hassan: You’ve got to come to a Glasgow football match and see the massive range of food options you don’t get, you know? You can’t get a healthy food option at a Glasgow football match.
Audience Member: Macaroni pie? It’s fine. [audience laughs]
Darren McGarvey: See… on the topic of food… it’s linked in many ways in least in my experience to mental health and well-being… So the Scottish Government a few weeks ago announced £54 million to increase access to mental health services, particularly young people. Which was a week after they froze council tax again, which places services like that under a lot of strain. Um, one of the things the money isn’t going to be used for is standing up to ‘big food’ and ‘big pharma’ in terms of the toxic food chain. The reason people eat those foods, is because they’re cooked in things that are addictive. And so people get into these terrible lifestyle habits. And they associate that with comfort, so the things that they look forward to are killing them. And that’s what poverty is. You know? Somebody might dip in and have a wee ironic bag of chips fae time-to-time, a ‘gourmet’ fish supper [audience laughs].
For other people they’re walking into the chippy and in their head it’s going ‘I don’t wanna do this. I’m fed up eating this junk. I know it’s killing me. I can’t fucking stop. I’m so stressed out I’m gonna smoke a fag half way through eating a chippy.’ Now this is funny, it is jovial, but it is very real, it is very real. It is very real when you look at the health statistics, as evidenced by ‘the Glasgow effect’ and the impact that has on public health services. These ‘diseases of affluence’, where the biggest problem of consumption that we have is that we’re all eating too much, when famine and starvation used to be the problem. And that does link in and feed in to this idea of narratives, identities that we take on for ourselves. But it’s not a kinda jovial thing, like ‘I’m going mental me, ahaha look at me eating hunners of chips, wehay!’ that might be a bravado, as a veneer. But we laugh at these things because we are powerless. We feel powerless and we’re laughing at that horrible truth. Like the idea of Glasgow being the most violent city, which actually isn’t true anymore. So that’s evidence that we can actually, when we look these problems in the eye, talking about the difficult truths, we can actually make a change. We just need to get to grip with the facts first.
Roanne Dods: Thank you. Lady at the back?
Audience Member: Academics have come up a few times and I noticed that in your statement on Facebook you mentioned about wanting to start a discussion about academic funding and how that works. And the question that I asked a few times throughout the stooshie was about how the arrangement with Duncan of Jordanstone college and how that worked out. Did that all get resolved in the end? Because I believe that initially you’d planned to give the money to them, but then there was a miscommunication about whether or not that was allowed.
Ellie Harrison: It’s still rumbling on. So that give me something to do… but yeah, it is still rumbling on. I’m mean just in terms of how that is panning out… I’m hoping to resolve things this month, so I can make another statement about it… Yeah the thing… that I’m most, kind of, upset about I suppose, is the way that our… I mean I’ve been teaching in art schools since, well 2004 on-and-off and I really believe that the art school, that art education is the best education that anybody could get and it shouldn’t just be accessible to a privileged minority. Because one of the things that I teach my students is critical thinking skills, exactly the skills that you need to be able to look at that headline and think that’s nonsense, to be able to decide, you know like say with the advertising, what you are going to buy and what’s actually healthy for you and what’s… gonna kill you. Like, this education, I see as being under threat by bigger systemic changes in Higher Education, I mean… what’s happening in England with the introduction of fees… One of the reasons I’m proud to teach in the Scottish Higher Education system is because it is still free, but who knows what’s going to happen over the next ten years as more and more cuts unfold… So I want the result of this project to, as I’ve said, to open up and to democratise these opportunities to more and more people, to more and more young people, so that they can have the opportunity to go to art school, they can have the opportunity to apply for arts funding. That it’s not seen as something that’s ‘not for them’. That is seen as something that is accessible to anybody.
Gerry Hassan: I was just gonna say that, you know, Loki said earlier the ‘social-justice loving SNP Government’ you know, that we all love. And, you know, just let’s cut through it. We all, but Scotland loves talking about social justice, but it doesn’t doesn’t do it! You know? With reference to Council Tax, Council Tax helps people in bigger houses, helps people with above average incomes. ‘No tuition fees’ as a shibboleth, Scottish students come out of university with massive debt. Where we like it or not, actually the terrible, terrible loans system in England is actually more progressive in terms of the debt it leaves English students in, which is terrible, than the debt Scottish students have to pay back. And just as a kind of finally point. It’s not all the fault of the Tories, of Westminster, I mean you only need to look at the state of Scottish football, which is run by, you know, Scottish people in Scottish institutions. Glasgow School of Art, one of the most prestigious organisations in this city, 2013 – 2014 – how many working class kids got access to that? In that whole year’s cohort? The answer is seven. Seven. And that’s with, as you were alluding to as well, a brilliant Head of Access who had to work hard to get that seven in. Because the whole nature of those systems… and education are going in the opposite direction and ‘no tuition fees’ isn’t the answer to that, we need to talk about the discrimination and exclusion of working class kids and what goes on in our secondary and primary schools as well.
Audience Member: But can I just check that I understood what you were saying. So I’m just trying to understand this. So basically, if you were free from the constraints of having to apply for funding, such as was necessary in the terms of your probation, that would set you free to concentrate on resolving these kind of problems instead? Is that what you’re saying?
Ellie Harrison: What I would like to see. I’m going be writing about this… over the next few months. I’m researching for it at the moment… I would like to see a revolution in art education… I would like to see these art schools go back… you know, break off from the universities to become independent organisations again that aren’t bound by these ridiculous systems that are being handed down. So things like the Research Excellence Framework, the pressures that are being put on academic staff do ‘research’ so that they can… bring in money as a result and losing site of… what the point of the art school is. And the point of the art school is empower and inspire young people, to give them the best possible start in life. And… more and more academics are coming into art schools and… the same thing with the bloody ‘Glasgow effect’, they’re like parasites, you know getting these huge salaries, sucking resources away from the students… and their education… so what I’m calling for is big but… that’s what I would like to see happen, because and it relates to – can I just say about Pat Kane’s article… published in The National, which was about Citizen’s Basic Income, and he started with an argument about the way in which… there’s going to be more unemployment in the future, it’s only going to increase and the way that we are going to have to transform society as technology replaces more and more of our jobs. And… a creative education is a brilliant way of enable people to gain their own independence to be able to… find a fulfilling way of spending their time… Like all of these things are linked up to me… and yeah, I wanted it to become more and more democratised.
Gerry Hassan: It’s not is it? Working class kids are being excluded.
Audience Member: I was just going to say, that the funding stream that The Glasgow Effect was funded from wasn’t actually and education-specific one, in fact it was quite specifically not allowed to have anything to do with education. So it wasn’t really taking money from an academic funding body in order to achieve that. Is there a reason why you didn’t go through something like the AHRC for this? Was that like conscious choice? Was it a challenge?
Ellie Harrison: I mean, I didn’t want to do it at all.
Audience Member: OK.
Ellie Harrison: I just wanted to tick the box, so I could keep my job. I thought that was… quite clear in the statement that I made, that I was put under this pressure, to raise this money, to tick this box so that I could keep my job. So I just wanted to do it in…
Audience Member: I think you could go harder on that in the things that you write about this as you progress. I think you could make that point a lot clearer. Because, whether it’s a result of being swamped by everything else of not, that point, I think is lost. Because I’ve been trying to start this discussion for a while…
Roanne Dods: There’s quite a lot probably going on behind the scenes too… so if you don’t mind…
Darren McGarvey: Aye, Aye. I was gonna say… I don’t know you’ve many read a few of my pieces and I don’t know if you know my background as an artist or as a performer or whatever. I started at the age of sixteen. I’ve released seventeen albums… I have set up a youth project in collaboration with young people. The whole idea of is was to investigate – could you hand over power to the young people and let them decide for themselves what their organisation is… I never, ever, ever went for public money to do any of these things. Because I want to be able to stand up and actually scrutinise the structures of power, and I know that if I’m taking money off the government or an ‘arms-length’… I’m not saying this applies to every artist. I know a lot of artists who do great work. So I’m talking about a personal decision for me. I don’t want a limitation on my art. I could never take funding from a funding body, a government funding body and then turn around a say ‘I’m doing this project that’s going to investigate such and such’. Because I know that if I really want to ‘investigate such and such’, I’m going right to the fucking source. It’s the fucking government. It’s the structures of power. And everywhere that they are. At local level, national level and international level. And you simply cannot do that, when your whole thing is funded from the government. You simply can’t do it. You can talk about it. You can kinda hint to it. You can sound like you’re doing it. But you can’t really look and analyse a talk about honestly and openly the real problem: power, where it lies. That sort of stuff…
I think like, obviously we should recognise the limitations of what public-funded art can deliver us. And then see, does that actually fit our social justice objectives? Do we not need more artists outside of the public-funded framework, taking a stand? …Doing the project off their own back. You know like, you’re quite a prestigious artist. You’re really well known. You have an international presence. A lot of people might just feel, you know, do it on your own dime. Which I think is fair enough. That’s not my personal view. But I can understand where that point of view comes from. I don’t mean to be controversial [audience laughs]. I love you, I think you’re really nice.
Ellie Harrison: I agree. I agree. Like I totally agree… You know, that’s why I teach. So that I can’t subsidise my art practice. So that I can do exactly what I want. And I don’t have to be compromised, by wherever this money is coming from… Or have to make something that I can sell. You know, to make something commercial. So… I mean that’s why I would recommend to any artist to try to support their practice, to have a sustainable way of supporting their practice… like invigilating… pointing at Oliver [laughs] or whatever you do, so that you can say what you want to say and you don’t have your hands tied.
Katie Gallogly-Swan: I think… just to quickly comment on this. I think that it’s really interesting that we’re starting to talk about education and arts education specifically. But I would like to expand that to cover education generally… Personally, if you want to start talking about politics… the focus on university education, in my opinion, is you know completely… even in this instance about art school education, being able to take that out of those institutions altogether and have education at a local level and for all sorts of different requirements for society. Treating university, ‘a degree’ as a panacea. I mean I left university and couldn’t really find a job for over a year. And I felt like I probably deserved a job! Because I’d been told, you’ll go to university, you’ll get a degree and when you leave you’ll get a job and then that’ll be you for the rest of your live and you’ll be fine. That’s not the case. And so, just to like… one of the things I noted when the Creative Scotland statement was bring read out was one of the first things they note is that ‘Ellie has a Masters degree’, thus she deserves this funding. That’s what it said to me. And so… that sort of reverence for those degrees and that sort of reverence for those letters after your name. Like if we really want to interrogate that sort of… legitimacy, that’s not to say that Creative Scotland was at fault on that, it’s a societal thing, a systemic thing. Then we actually need to start saying, those degrees after your name, they’re not actually that important. Let’s see some more substance to education and how education can be interpreted.
Roanne Dods: Thank you.
Darren McGarvey: Agreed.
Roanne Dods: We’ve got about five questions, from people. So, I’m going to go round and get folk to say… yes? Go for it.
Audience Member: I’ll try and be succinct. I’ve just got a few things. I think people’s initial reaction, to call it ‘the Ellie effect’ now probably [audience laughs]. It was so huge. I think that if you look at what was on the page, I feel that a lot of what you’ve said tonight, had that been expressed, even in some sort of bullet form on your page, I think you’d have saved yourself a lot of heartache. I think you speak very well. I think there’s a lot of sincerity in what you’re saying, and I relate to a lot of what you’re saying. I think it’s really good. I work in a rehab in Possil, I think art should be accessible, I think it should be… I think this tokenism that you said about the GalGael, where people just dip in and out. And I think people thought that that’s what you were doing. They seen the chips and they think it’s that ironic, eating the chips as you say, and I think it kinda bams people up, if you wanna use a Glasgow term [audience laughs].
So I think that people misconstrued a lot of what you said and I agree with what you said about the newspapers. I hate tabloids, I don’t have a telly for a reason. I think it’s a lot of shit. But they just jumped on what you gave them. You gave them chips you have them ‘the Glasgow effect’, you gave them stuff about, you know, I got funding from Creative Scotland and they just ran with it. So I think you set yourself up slightly and I think it’s a shame. You seem like a nice person with good stuff to say.
The other thing I’ll jump on is, I’m an artist as well… I didn’t perceive a gender-based reaction, I didn’t even necessarily perceive a class-based reaction, it was that bit about Glasgow artists… you know… people perceived it as it’ll be an achievement to be stuck in Glasgow and still be a successful artist. I know loads of artists based in Glasgow, that rarely exhibit outwith Glasgow and… they still manage to live from their earnings you know? And I think there was a huge irritation at that and there was also a huge irritation at Creative Scotland… people were slagging off Creative Scotland more than you. People were really angry at Creative Scotland for what they perceived as an elitist decision, kinda like what you said, and also that they funded something vague and conceptual and what they perceive as a kind of wishy washy. People that have very practical, tangible art can’t get funding, but people with these highfalutin conceptual ideas get £15k… I just telling you the perception… so I suppose what I would wonder is… how do you think that just being constrained to Glasgow, even if you take Strathclyde out of it, Glasgow alone. How do you think that would limit an artist? And does, you know you’ve got a year, do you think that the art you’ll create may touch upon some of the sort of subheadings under ‘the Glasgow effect’, some of the things that have been discussed tonight, round about class, and poverty, and inclusion and exclusion, gender? I know, maybe you don’t know these things now, because it’s a whole year you’ve got and it’s a lot to think about, but… I know it’s one of those long questions.
Ellie Harrison: Yeah, like I said on the day when the shit hit the fan I was working on text, but at the same time I was also trying to organise this… national day of action, because it’s the day when the train fares go up and I do that every January, working with these other campaigns for public ownership of the railways. And I was trying to that and I was trying to do this and I was badly prepared and I just copied and pasted the text from the application and actually it was interesting to see how much that jarred and, like I said, it was… really this ‘art speak’ going out to this… completely broad demographic of people, so that… and the whole time, you know, I was desperately [laughs] trying to write more stuff to put out there, but it was just me and I was trying… too much and it all happened far too quickly.
But… what you were saying about what it is I might end up doing, this is it as well. This conversation is it, this conversation wouldn’t have happened if this project hadn’t happened, so there’s already been so many positive and exciting things that have some out of the big hoo-ha at the beginning of the year, so… I mean I’ve got some ideas about what I’m going to do, but like I said, it will take time… But I sincerely hope that it does have a positive impact and that all the arguing is kind of out of the way, because I think we’re all largely on the same page… and I think that we all want to see… inequalities and contradictions… within the city and within the systems of power in the city removed. So I mean I have some ideas about what I can try to do, but I’m only one person [laughs] so there’s only so much, but I’ll do my best.
Roanne Dods: Thank you. I gonna get three because we’re running out of time. So if I could get three comments, so it’s one gentleman there, gentleman there and then here, yes?
Audience Member: You spoke about the seventeen different theories for ‘the Glasgow effect’, my favourite one is that we dump a huge amount of untreated sewage in the Clyde, which then flows through the city centre, coats the whole city centre in literal filth which weakens our immune system, so effectively we’re all poisoning one another in shit [audience laughs]. And I think that could be literally true or as a metaphor, especially with how everyone behaved on social media in a stooshie like that.
Katie Gallogly-Swan: Poetic.
Roanne Dods: Yes Gentleman at the back?
Audience Member: I’ve been enjoying listening to Darren and Gerry about, you know, the well known dichotomy between the lived experience of the working class of Glasgow and ‘Glasgow with Style’ of how it’s promoted by the City Council and all its agencies and so on. And I think that’s a well known fact. I think there’s another… argument here, which was just touched upon by that lady in front actually, which I found very interesting, which is about the role of contemporary art practice and artists in Scotland. And as well as offending many working class and other Glaswegians like me, I’m sure Ellie managed to offend many, many working artists in Glasgow who are not fortunate to have a full-time academic post at an art school, or to receive a £15,000 grant or anybody… Recently there’s been a book published called the Treason of the Scholars, I don’t know if some people are familiar with it, by Peter Goodfellow, a Scottish artist and there’s an article in it by Duncan MacMillan… and he bemoans the fact that art education and artists in general and art practice in Scotland has moved away from product to process. There’s nowhere to study sculpture at any of our art schools, it’s not called ‘sculpture’, it’s called ‘contemporary art practice’. And this is well documented as part of ‘the Glasgow miracle’… I have a lot of problems with this move away from product, actually producing a work of art, to the process, i.e. being an artist. I wouldn’t want to go to a restaurant where the chef was too busy being a chef, it’s as simple as that. And in many ways, what we see here in this product, and Ellie’s work is the epitome of this.
You know, I have been trying in vain to work out what the product is going to be in this project that’s been substantially funded. I think Ellie’s said she’s going to sort out First Buses, she’s going to construct some sort of fund that’s based on renewable energy…
Audience Member: You’re part of the product!
Roanne Dods: Yes.
Audience Member: …and during this durational project she also says she’s going to think about and write about a revolution in art school education and so on. I’m sorry if I’m being cynical here.
Audience Member: You are!
Roanne Dods: Well, can I… Of course, of course we start to always get to some of the other issues just as we’re starting to… get towards the end and so thank you for bringing that in and I’m still hoping that you might be up for saying something? But just before I do, can I just say that as a dancer, all my work and all the work that I do as a dancer has got to be process, because there’s no other way of doing it. So you are saying something that’s really very controversial I’m sure… it is, I know it is, but just because we’re running out of time, I just want to get another two, three statements in and then we’ll get everyone to finish off and then Gerry will wrap up.
Nic Green: Well, first of all I just want to say what a pleasure it’s been listening. It’s been really great and several times tonight, I’ve actually felt really moved. I feel moved just saying it now. And I think it’s because it’s tapping into a lot of very, very important things, and I feel absolutely privileged to be here tonight, to actually start hearing again, in the flesh, not on social media, but like ‘there you are! I can almost touch you!’ [audience laughs] Maybe I can almost smell you a bit, I don’t know how much you’re sweating up there. [audience laughs] But I think, what I want to talk about, I mean there’s so many things, but one thing that I feel like I’d like to offer is just about the institution of art and I’m an artist myself and unfortunately sir, I don’t make objects, I make events, maybe a bit like Loki, maybe a bit like Ellie, or different, but a place where people can come together for some kind of experience, and that it might alter – either emotionally, or intellectually or not, or maybe it doesn’t work sometimes I don’t know.
But, something that I just want to go back to that Loki mentioned about the ‘big ones’ who I feel like I know who they are, but the big people that come in and they place the hierarchies down and then suddenly, all this stuff happens and all these materials arrive… I think what’s really difficult is that… the values that are commodified in those processes. What’s been brought up for me in this whole thing, is that actually what I’ve really seen is that things that I really care about have been undermined by these instances, where projects have been thrown down in communities, but what they’ve done is emulate what actually are and can be really brilliant, but they’ve done it in such a kind of flippant way, or a commodified way or a ‘by numbers’ way, that what it does is it makes it really difficult for more grassroots people or for more people who are just individuals trying to like connect with other people, it makes it really, really hard to know, how can you convince people that you’re not them. And then like, everything that you make that’s temporary becomes ‘parachute in’. But like I think performance is brilliant and it doesn’t last forever and it shouldn’t and to be honest nobody would want to be in one of those performances every day [audience laughs], so like you know, everything that’s temporary becomes ‘parachute in’, everything that happens with a community, or in a community becomes disingenuous or like ‘poverty safari’ or whatever you wanna call it, and everything that’s funded becomes ‘a waste of money’. And I just think that that is robbery, that is robbery that that’s happened and actually, somehow, I just feel that what this has done is really made me feel that I’ve got to claw that back, because they take the powers from those communities, but they take the power from people who believe in those processes as well. And so it’s something about getting that back I think for me.
Roanne Dods: Yeah, that’s right.
Nic Green: And thanks for tonight.
Roanne Dods: Thank you very much. Thank you. So we’ve got one, two, three and then we’ll finish up and come back. Yeah, you gentleman there, yes? OK?
Audience Member: I just wanted to say thanks very much for all the different opinions that you’ve voiced tonight. There’s definitely a sense of ‘there’s no arguments in rehearsals’, you know? I was amazed at the kind of vitriol that came out towards you in this project. I didn’t have a problem with you calling it The Glasgow Effect at all, I think the more focus on that the better. I was amazed at somebody like Frank McAveety and the way he came out kinda fighting like mad and it just made me think ironically, that we didn’t hear him bumping his gums in the City of Culture when they ploughed in fucking gazillions of pounds into Glasgow for a select few folk to enjoy it…
One of the things I find interesting about what you’re doing… is this idea that you’re limiting yourself, you know, geographically to Glasgow… and the ideas of trying to investigate if you can be… if there’s a sustainability to that as opposed to having to take your art out and go further, you know whether it’s down the road or hawking it down to London, or away to America, whatever, if you can find your art, and do what you need to do that’s useful, here within the confines of the city. And it just struck me as something really interesting and a lot of… I work in the film industry and there’s this kinda move all the time to try and… ‘second guess the market’, so everybody is trying to do a genre film in this, and a genre film in that and… everybody’s being encouraged by the institutions – Creative Scotland are terrible for it, especially with young people who are in the middle of discovering their own voices. Sorry I’m being a bit random, but you’ll have to put up with it… So I think the idea of finding your art in your own back yard and it being useful and of use to you and helping you find your own voice and you own identity and what you’re doing draws attention to that for me and only encourages young people to maybe find their art in their own back yard. It’s like Tom Leonard says: ‘the local is international and… the national is parochial’.
Roanne Dods: Yep, thank you very much. One last comment.
Audience Member: Can I just say. I didnae actually know I was gonna come here tonight. I was gonna go and buy a bag of chips [audience laughs] and a bottle of Irn Bru [audience laughs]. Anyway, I’m glad I did and thanks very much. The thing that you’ve done Ellie, is that you’ve poked Glasgow. And to say you’re a true Glaswegian, you’ve gotta be attacked! [audience laughs]
Darren McGarvey: Comment of the night!
Audience Member: So welcome to Glasgow!
Darren McGarvey: Jesus Christ!
Audience Member: In an intellectual way. No in a bad way.
Roanne Dods: So, thank you very, very much. Gerry’s going to do a little bit of a ‘goodbye’. Thank you. Just now.
Gerry Hassan: Am I? Want me to do that now? OK, well thank you everyone. Just to say, we’re going to be back in a wee while on March the 14th doing the ‘Politics of Trident’. And then if… because we’re monitoring the environment and horizon for stooshies you know… we might even be trying to provoke some to just do events. We are going to be coming back… a few weeks after that with ‘Free Speech, the Media’ and maybe even ‘Rangers’ you know, along some of the things that have happened… We need some strong men and some strong women’s help for that. So please volunteers… step forward.
I want to make a… dig for stooshies… because, it’s not the tact point, but stooshies and catalysts and cathartic moments have positives. And I think we’ve see that with Ellie’s Glasgow Effect, Ellie’s Effect, because it touched on so many things… I absolutely do not go on Twitter, stay on Twitter all the time… I always do it from my laptop because some of my friends are on Twitter all the time. But I was actually, just happened to be, by happenchance on Twitter live the moment it broke on Twitter. And I want to make a wee defence for social media. Because social media is not what has articulated unacceptable views, misogyny, you know, whatever. It’s an amplification of… breaking down barriers and people being allowed to have voice, it’s hugely positive and empowering and problematic at the same time. So when people say to me, like Gordon Brewer who you know is a BBC presenter said to be on Friday ‘oh I’m not on Twitter, because I would just be abused all the time, I just hate on all that’… And I said no it’s not and also silence is possible on Twitter. You can just ignore people. Me and some other people once worked on the ‘Seven tones of Twitter’… and one of them was come on, just don’t say anything when people are abusive, but you know, that only one way of responding. The media, the Daily Record, terrible headline, you know. That’s a poor sub editor doing that who is like writing about 25–30 different headlines on subjects… he or she know nothing about. And that’s because these are failing flailing institutions, that people are stopping to buy, you know. The Graham Speirs story relates to the fact that The Herald were blackmailed over the withdrawal of £40,000 of advertising, £40,000 and they sacked the best sports journalist in Scotland in front of our eyes.
So just two other quick thoughts. Ellie you said, ‘are we on the same page?’ I mean we have to have a common language and we have to be able to listen to each other as we have done tonight and engage and move on and… accept when we’re human, but I don’t think we are on the same page. I think in Scotland, there’s too much of trying to think we all think alike. There’s been too much orthodoxy in Scotland, too much consensus. One minute we’re all Labour, we weren’t actually all Labour. Now you’ve got to buy into the new Nat, shiny story and I don’t buy that. You know there’s a Nigerian writer that writes about ‘the danger of a single story’. Leave the single story and you arrive in somewhere magical, somewhere liberated, we have to do that.
And I think the role of the individual matters here and Ellie in that you’re putting yourself up, it’s tough and a friend of mine said about a similar experience when she wrote a book she thought people were going to hate and shoot her down for and she thought some of the big men were gonna shoot her down, like Rory McIlvenny and everything… She said she felt she was ‘putting her bum out of the window’. And what does that mean in Scotland? You know? Why do we feel we have to take flack? Because we can listen and, you know, we can at least recognise that other people’s opinions are valid. So I say, put the bums out the window, you know and put the people who think that’s objectionable… out the window as well maybe [laughs].
Roanne Dods: Thank you very, very much. Thank you for such a brilliant conversation. Thank you for listening and thank you so much to the three of you for really putting yourselves on the line, putting you bums out the window as well [audience laughs] So thank you very, very much. Thank you.