The fascinating thing about democracy is that it has to carry the seeds of its own destruction. In theory, it has to allow anyone to compete for power. This makes for an interesting ride. Add creativity into the mix however, and you can expect the unexpected.
As I write this, I am waiting to hear if Bettakultcha can be pitched at a Creative Networks event. Creative Networks is a sponsored event held at the Leeds College of Art which lays on free food and drink and a guest speaker for the evening. The idea is to encourage networking among the creative people of Leeds in the hope that something good will emerge through collaboration. All very laudable. But with creatives, you should expect that all sorts of exotic flora can germinate from the seeds of destruction.
Before the guest speaker is announced at one of their events, Creative Networks allows businesses in the creative industries to pitch their product or idea to the audience. The pitches are generally from printers and the like. It occurred to me that the audience attending these Creative Networks events would be exactly the sort of people that would be interested in Bettakultcha. Our pitch could be presented in an interesting and fun way, to demonstrate its entertaining format. I contacted Leeds College of Art about the idea and they unhesitatingly gave us a slot. They asked for some basic information about our product, and when we sent them it, that’s when the unexpected began to happen.
I got a voice message from one of the organisers, expressing their concern that there was a ‘conflict of interest’ in our pitch. Intrigued, I telephoned them and asked them which interests were being conflicted? Because as far as I was aware, Creative Networks is a sponsored event who’s aim is to encourage creative enterprises in the Yorkshire region. The response was that, because we were promoting a similar event to Creative Networks, we were, um, competition.
Competition? Oh my, the lessons to be learned here…
Bettakultcha is an event that includes several presentations, not just one. It is run by volunteers. It is usually held on a different night to Creative Networks. It is a fun evening encouraging creativity which also happens to encourage networking. And it was the networking that the organisers objected to. The irony of this objection seemed too big for them to appreciate. Any rational interpretation of their concern comes out something like this, “although our remit is to encourage creativity and networking, we want to hold the monopoly on creative networking.”
Believe me, I can understand this thinking. The capitalist ideology we are so thoroughly indoctrinated with, demands it. We are trained to think competitively, even when competition is the very worst option in a given circumstance.
My disappointment in this matter however, arises not from this realisation, but from the fact that even the creative sector has become so dangerously infected by this old world disease, that it cannot think for itself anymore. The planet is desperate for innovative thinking and creative solutions to problems brought about by such outdated ideas. Where are these innovative ideas going to come from when the very people we look to for creativity, insist on shackling themselves with outdated practices? Where are the radical thinkers with the bold ideas supposed to come from? If the artists and poets start squabbling amongst themselves about who is allowed to practice art and who is not, we’re fucked.
Bettakultcha does not conflict with Creative Networks, it shares with Creative Networks. Our pitch does not say, let Creative Networks die and come to Bettakultcha instead, it says, come to Creative Networks and also enjoy Bettakultcha, one of the many events to be found in the flourishing community of Leeds.
Bettakultcha was born out of a Creative Networks event. It seems the father is now hunting down its progeny in an attempt to strangle it, so that any imagined threat to his own existence is removed.
The future lies not in the minefield of competition but in the garden of collaboration. The seeds of destruction therefore, are in fact, the flowers of creation.