Interactive History Publishing - Participatory Social Research and Education - Production and Promotion of Progressive Art - Anarchist Philosophy and Historiography

Working Title: Creative Struggle: Strikes in the Arts Industries

Project Type: Article/Investigative History
Short Description: An essay on labour struggles amongst creative workers in the twentieth century.
Background: Question for labour history folks out there. Examples of strikes and struggles in the arts industry wanted. Music, film, publishing, whatever. I feel a history essay coming on. Partly, inspired by this great example of labour history in song from Cosmo, "Music Hall War":
Status: Research in Progress...


Growing Up Red

Working Title: Growing Up Red
Project Type: Oral History
Short Description: Red babies I know and meet relate what it was like to grow up in left wing families.
"I was raised Stalinist- excuse me, Marxist-Leninist," I once told a friend of mine, a fellow red baby-turned-anarchist. "Only another red baby would get that joke," was his response.
I was raised as a red baby (Americans add in the word “diaper”, for reasons that are probably interesting to a psychology major). It is an upbringing that guarantees, I have found, a perspective on the world that the anthropologist refers to as “liminal”.
Being a red baby is at once an experience unique and universal. One grows up with the insider/outsider view of the world similar to that created by closed religious sects. Yet, because the subculture and shared language was spread by an international institution (ie the Communist Party), one finds that this world view is perpetuated amongst red babies regardless of national origin or context, even to the extent of shared jokes. In some ways it is similar to the commonalities understood by lapsed Catholics- and for similar reasons.

Funding Method:

Status: Planning Stage

Annotated Bibliography

(Self) Education: My Iconoclastic Apprenticeship

Learning by Practice, Teaching and Text
My preferred methods of learning:
  • Find an excellent educator and assist them in the process of educating others.
I have done all kinds of education support work over the years, including being an experimental subject for my mother - an extraordinary libertarian educator and a multi-genre artist - for most of my life. So I have learned all sorts of things I might never have come across otherwise, and added to the perambulating scrapbook of knowledge about people and history in my head.
  • Find someone who is really good at the discipline or field of knowledge and follow them around making myself useful while they do what they do.
Ideally, I combine these two methods in one project.
I teach myself a new subject by teaching it to others as I go. (My students often think I'm teaching them. It's the other way around, really).
I think of this as an experiential approach to learning. Artists, on the whole, prefer this approach, and it is the best way to learn the skills and techniques of a craft.
Apprenticeship Projects:
These projects have two purposes. One is to entice mentors and experts into participating in them, so they're around for me to pick their brains. The other purpose, not incidentally, is to create a job where I get to listen to raconteurs and artists talk all day:
Working in Story and Song
A Mother of a Job
Remembering Brad
Here's a project I'd love to join, in order to pursue this self-directed apprenticeship:
And this is my own version of a travelling history circus:
And a participatory social research project:
First World Ethics: Starting a Workers Co-operative in Adelaide
I am, temperamentally, an intellectually oriented type. A bookworm. Since I'm a scholar in the empirical disciplines, I apply the experiential approach to my thinking work. I take a text or case study that has taught me a lot, and try to reverse engineer the technique through imitation. This oral history project is an example. I want to learn how to do what Studs Terkel did in Working. If I can learn to be half as good as he is at drawing poetry from people, I'll be happy.
Then I apply what I've learned to theory and philosophy. (For other intellectual types, my interests here are, broadly, historiography, pedagogy, ethnography, epistemology, and on some occasions, ontology. Ideally, all at once. Insert adjectives like "radical", "subversive" "anarchist" and such in front of all of those, and you'll get the idea).
A scholar must have a reading list. Here's a random list of the texts that currently set off the bells and whistles in my brain:
David Graeber, Direct Action: an Ethnography
Will Kaufman, Woody Guthrie: American Radical
Studs Terkel, Working
Spook Handy, America's Story Through Folk Songs
Richard Wolff, Democracy at Work: a Cure for Capitalism
This Doing Oral History course online
David Rovics (he's not a text, but he is a great subject, and he does inspire new ideas)
William W Pilcher, The Portland Longshoremen: a Dispersed Urban Community

Oral History: A Mother of a Job

Stories of the Homebirth Chamber
Experienced midwives relate stories of their working lives and discuss their methods of learning and teaching.

Growing Mothers and Babies
A long-term documentary project that revisits the subjects on their journey from nurse, to midwife student, to experienced practitioner, gathering their reflections and learning expreiences over a period of a number of years. Sort of like "7-Up" for midwives.

Arts Production- My Philosophy

Making Art Work

Artists change the world, by changing the perceptions and experience of the people in the audience. A really good artist finds creates ways for audiences to experience empathy, beauty, heroism, suffering, injustice- all of the large, universal, significant aspects of what it means to be the human animal in a human world.
This is an important, necessary function of society. It is not extraneous, unproductive, merely entertaining, or an aspect of "leisure". An artist is keeping our culture afloat, and contributing directly to the collective betterment of the planet, one audience at a time.
This process only works if there is an audience, of course. So what I do is find the right audiences for good artists. In that way, I am contributing to the finest thing we can all do- change for the better.
You, the creative worker, are the expert on your own work. You need creative and intellectual control of that work. I am to assist you in creating the financial, physical and mental conditions you need to do your real work. You make your job unique- no-one else can do it, by definition.
On Being Paid
I work for artists, not the other way around. My policy is to ensure the artist I work for gets paid properly for their work. I have several ways of doing this in a way that is beneficial for both artist and venue/host organisation.
Supporting the Gig
I will assist the audience involved, the organisers of the gig, and/or organisations that wish to hire an artist for an event, to find that money if necessary. I will provide publicity and promotional advice and assistance. An artist needs both a living, and an audience. And an audience needs artists in ways that go way beyond simple financial considerations. I act, always, on the principles of enlightened self-interest and mutual benefit, interpreted in the broadest possible way. The relationship between the artist, the industry and the audience can be based on co-operation rather than exploitation. Let's ensure that it is.
Supporting the Artist
If you're an artist coming to see me, it is partly because you need to make more money. That's understood. I take this into account in two ways. Firstly, I will only take a commission for my work if the gig comes off, and it makes you the money you need. Also I will do a producer's traditional job, and find the money to fund creative projects, either through investment or grants. Again, my fee is performance based. I get paid if I get you the funding. Since it is in my interests to do my very best to get you the work you want, you can be sure I will work hard on your behalf.
Supporting My History Work
I will also trade work with artists. A great many of my history projects combine history, education and art, and require the input/collaboration/participation of artists of all kinds, so it's in my interests to swap production work for creative work.
Supporting Quality Work
This is also why I am very selective about the artists I will work with. If you are my client, it is because I believe firmly and passionately that your work will change the world if it can be experienced by the right audience.
Changing the concept of success
Creative work needs to be judged, not by how much money it is worth, but by the contribution it makes. A business needs to make a profit, sure, but if that is your only criteria for success, you sacrifice everything else in order to feed the idol and make it grow. That phenomenon has gotten the human race into a horrendous amount of trouble.
The true measure of progress is improvement in the community standard of living, culturally as well as materially. The development of our ethics, our knowledge, our empathy skills, our philosophy are central to human progress.
Everybody is self-employed, and self-educated.
It doesn’t matter if you work for a wage, on commission or contract – the work you do is self-chosen, as are the things you learn. I recognize this principle, and try to assist the work you choose to do in a personalized way. If you want waged work, or an agent, or a distribution deal, I will help you find the right one. If you want to put on a production or event, I will help you find people you can work with. If you need a grant, a publicity campaign, a business plan, a training session or an apprenticeship, then that is what I will help you get. I want all my clients to become self-sustaining as soon as possible.
Paula de Angelis: Arts Producer

Social History: “The Wobblies and the Working Musician: the Roots of an American Tradition"

This research, aimed primarily at academic production (articles and books), but also as supporting material for this oral history project, explores the way in which the musical traditions of the IWW have influenced successive generations of socially conscious musicians in the United States, such as Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs, David Rovics, Will Kaufman, Tom Morello, Joe Glazer, etc. It will probably include a playlist of contemporary covers of IWW songs.

Musicians who are also chroniclers of people's music history:
Will Kaufman on Woody Guthrie
Spook Handy on Pete Seeger
Spook Handy: America's Story Through Folk Songs
David Rovics on Brad Will

Background Material:
Malcolm Deans, "David Rovics: songs to fan the flames of discontent"
Discusses David Rovics as an IWW member and the traditions of the Wobblies as a "singing union."
Will Kaufman, Woody Guthrie: American Radical
See chapter one for details on Woody Guthrie's connection to the IWW.
Woody Guthrie, “Some from the Old Wobblies,” in Alan Lomax, Woody Guthrie, and Pete Seeger, eds., Hard Hitting Songs for Hard-Hit People
Includes notes from Woody Guthrie
Franklin Rosemont, David Roediger, Archie Green, and Salvatore Salerno (eds), The Big Red Song Book
Published by the outstanding Chicago socialist publishing house, Charles H Kerr. The Kerr Company has been the major publisher of IWW material for over a century so almost anything on the catalogue is worth reading. Particularly any works by the above editors, all wonderful scholars of the IWW and American radical history.

Arts Production: Organising Support and Resources

Just one more click. I promise it's worth it.
Organising Support and Resources- David Rovics