Tuesday, August 16, 2011


It's very difficult to respond to what happened in London last week. Returning from the States felt like walking into a war zone - usually I've felt it was the other way round. It's a huge warning shot across the bows of our social ship - and if we don't respond, the next one may sink us. It was strange, as we worked on the documentary we're doing about our Origins work on Maori heritage, to hear my own voice saying that London needed to learn about community cohesion. The idea has a much more urgent meaning now.

The response from Westminster has, perhaps inevitably, been short-termist and short-sighted. Art takes the long view. I had an email this morning from Jonathan Chadwick, who is a very thoughtful director, also very interested in interculturalism, asking if a space might be created in which theatre-makers and the like could consider ways of responding. That sort of space is very needed right now - there has to be consideration and a long-term strategy for an enormous project: there is a whole culture to be achieved.

In Saturday's Guardian there was a letter from a Venezualan man, pointing out the way in which El Sistema has been instrumental in diffusing the culture of violence there. It sounds crazy - teach kids to appreciate beauty, to love music, to perform, and there will be peace on the streets - but it is actually true. Our work is urgent and central at the current moment.

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