Is it time to depoliticise art?

“The author Howard Jacobson once wrote that if an artist’s work is political, it only works as art if it transcends politics. Today, curatorial choices seem to have been driven by political perspective rather than artistic merit. Or, as art critic Matthew Collings wrote of the Tate Modern, its overriding message now appears to be ‘Meaning must always entail moralising’.

Worse still – argues our speaker Wendy Earle – “the modern politics of art is trite, the idea of collective art-making and performance art largely uninteresting, and the general slightness and messiness of many of the works irritating and the overall lack of nuance, subtlety and, yes, beauty is wearisome and tedious.”

Date, Time and Venue: 11 May 2017, 7 PM in the Parlour of the Brunswick Inn, Derby. £3 (£2 unwaged).

Speaker: Dr Wendy Earle

Wendy writes on the arts and culture for spiked and is convenor of the Institute of Ideas Arts and Society Forum, which promotes open and open-ended discussion of the arts and culture and of the place of arts and culture in society. She works at Birkbeck, University of London, to promote knowledge exchange and public engagement with research in the arts, humanities and social sciences. Previously she worked in educational publishing and at the British Film Institute.

A selection of Wendy’s articles is available in the Spiked Author Archive

Chair: Dr Vanessa Pupavac (University of Nottingham)


Knowledge versus Skills: the great education debate 2016

callaghanDo we want children to learn ‘the best that has been known and thought in the world’ or do we want them to have the skills necessary for work and life in the 21st Century? Why impose an elite, Victorian curriculum on children today? Children need to be empowered to unleash their creativity and to develop the soft skills for a new world and a new workplace. Do really need latter day Gradgrinds pouring ‘facts’ into empty vessels and then examining them? Shouldn’t we look after the whole child and ensure they do not grow up unhappy with potential mental illness but become rounded personalities who can make a positive contribution to society? Our Salon on 18 October 2016 marks the 40th Anniversary of the ‘Great Debate’ on education launched by then Prime Minister Jim Callaghan in a speech at Ruskin College Oxford on 18 October 1976. In that debate Callaghan invited business to suggest how education could re-vitalise the economy. The consequence was the introduction of instrumental and short-term schemes that didn’t train or educate young people. On the 18 October 2016 the East Midlands Salon (sponsored by SCETT) launches a new ‘Great Debate’: In 2016 do we need young people who have what might be called ‘old fashioned’ knowledge or ‘modern day’ skills?

Speakers at this Battle of Ideas Satellite  are:

Professor Michael Young (Author of Bringing Knowledge Back In)

Katie Ivens (Director, Real Action)

Professor Dennis Hayes (Co-author of The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education)

Chair: Dr Ruth Mieschbuehler (Programme Leader for Education Studies, University of Derby)

Date and Time: Tuesday 18 October 2016 7 PM

Venue: Hallmark Midland Hotel, Derby

Tickets £5 (£3 Unwaged) available from Eventbrite.

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The autumn programme 2016

ArgumentThe East Midlands Salon is taking a summer break but will be back in the autumn with a whole new programme. We begin with a special event in September:

Wednesday 28 September – What is the role of a Salon in the 21st Century?

Speakers will include Simon Belt (convenor of the Manchester Salon) on salon organisation and Dennis Hayes on the origins of the Salon – from his talk on ‘Sex and the Salon’. This is an informal discussion for supporter of the Salons and is by invitation only. If you would like to attend please email the Salon.

And in October we have our Battle of Ideas Satellite event:

Tuesday 18 October 2016 at 6.30 PM in the Hallmark Midland Hotel, Derby – Knowledge versus Skills: the great education debate 2016

Speakers at this ‘round table’ include the distinguished sociologist of education, Professor Michael Young and Katie Ivens, Director of the education charity Real Action.

Tuesday 8 November at 7 PM will be a post-Battle of Ideas satellite, sponsored by Academics For Academic Freedom- The future for free speech – will tackling ‘radicalisation’ mean the death of debate?

Speakers include, Abdullah Muhammed (Chaplain, University of Derby), Dr Roba Al-Ghabra (Solicitor with civil liberties lawyers Birnberg Peirce).