Olympic Opening Ceremony Debacle goes mainstream media!
In the last few days this story has appeared in some mainstream media publications both in print and online. It seems that the snowball launched in August has gathered momentum and has become quite a big story.
A couple of weeks ago a journalist from a press agency (BNPS) based in Bournemouth called me after reading about my concerns in a few arts specific news outlets, Arts Professional and Yorkshire Times.
He interviewed me on the telephone and told me if the story was picked up on he’d let me know. He didn’t though and the Daily Mail ran with the story on Thursday.
Meanwhile a Journalist from the Sunday Telegraph called me and conducted another telephone interview and sent a photographer to my house on Friday.
The BBC called and Peter Levy interviewed me but seemed to get frustrated by his lack of understanding of the situation. He decided not to continue the interview or air it.
The Hull Daily Mail also called and conducted a brief telephone interview. They subsequently ran the story on Friday complete with the wrong images and out of date irrelevant ones instead.
Its unfortunate that the media running the story seem to be predominantly the right wing ones. Is this because Danny Boyle has leftist leanings or something? Or perhaps because the Olympic Games was largely a Labour Party production?
The most accurate news story from the mainstream media has been the Sunday Telegraph one so far. The most common inaccuracy is the claim that I am suing Danny Boyle. This is not true. I have sought legal advice on the matter and so far have received one legal opinion about where I stand in relation to the law with my claim. Public comments seem to concentrate on the mound itself and rightly point out that I didn’t invent it. I was in fact predominantly inspired by Silbury Hill, I am well aware of many spiral mounds round the world both ancient and modern. The devil, as they say, is in the detail and it is the details that make this a case of ‘copying’, in my opinion. I make no claim to have invented hills or grass or spirals, that would be silly.
Danny Boyle has also been in the news championing regional theatre with colourful language. I have nothing against Danny Boyle. I agree with him about regional funding etc. I enjoyed watching Slumdog Millionaire! However if it is true that the opening ceremonies introduction and set were entirely his vision then I can only conclude that he personally must have seen my work.
It is only a few weeks since I received an email telling me that Danny was entirely responsible for the visual concept of the opening ceremony, before that I didn’t even know who was responsible for it. I imagined that such large projects would include teams of artists and designers all presenting ideas to him and perhaps he would make suggestions and choose his favourites (whilst stroking a white cat and throwing chunks of fish to his pet sharks?).
Despite seemingly being used as a stick to undermine Danny Boyles social concerns (an unforseen and regrettable coincidence) I am pleased that I have managed to kick up an almighty fuss. The only weapon available to those with no money, power or influence.
I hope that goes some way toward explaining how I feel about this story.
The other aspect to the story which is so far missing from all of the above mainstream outlets relates to the competition I entered to begin with, in 2009. The Artists Taking the Lead competition has been placed under some scrutiny by Carol Lee and she seems to have uncovered evidence that the competition itself was corrupted by vested interest and large ccorporate cultural institutions. Now the Arts Council England Yorkshire regional office is conducting an investigation into itself. This is best read about online at the Arts Professional website it has several articles which discuss this issue in detail.
As you can imagine, not only was the competition possibly a foregone conclusion, but also to see mine and Dominics artwork and concept form part of the opening ceremony three years later, left me no option but to stand up for our work.
I didn’t do it lightly. I had to consider the likelihood that I will be laughed at, scorned and probably never get funded for an art project again! But weighing up these potential consequences with my own conscience left me no choice but to act as I have…… to be continued….