‘The Glasgow Effect’ is the latest bit of middle class posturing to provoke mass online hostility. The title refers to a’ year long ‘action research’ project / durational performance, for which artist Ellie Harrison will not travel outside Greater Glasgow for a whole year (except in the event of the ill-heath / death of close relative or friend).. ‘
Now, I don’t think this sounds like a great project, or even a good project – or indeed much of a ‘project’, from what has been outlined so far. To me it sounds patronising, boring and self indulgent (but I am open to being proven wrong about this, as the work progresses).
Much of the critique surrounding ‘The Glasgow Effect’ has been not so much about it’s artistic merit, but the fact that it is a waste of £15,000.
There is a justifiable anger about the economics at play, given that many people work hard in menial jobs for far less money than the grant Harrison is reported to have received.
Finding out, on the last day before the end of the New Year bank holiday, that an artist is getting paid more than you are to ‘not leave Glasgow’, is more than enough to get the blood boiling, and the fingers angrily tapping away.
And rightly so as one commenter outlines in the Facebook event;
‘I haven’t left Glasgow in nearly 4 years living on benefits and raising a child at the same time can do that to you. There have even been times i couldn’t even afford the bus to travel to the next town.’
As you might expect, many have suggested that she does not deserve to be paid £15,000 for this project.
I think Ellie Harrison does deserve £15,000 to explore her artistic process, I think I do too. As do you – as does this guy who draws queer superheroes, and his mum, and your mum, and her mum.
For me the Glasgow Effect project (and indeed the real life poverty after which it is named) make a convincing argument for a universal basic income, an ‘unconditional, nonwithdrawable income paid to every individual as a right of citizenship’ (more information here).
If we could ensure that all of us had our needs met, then all artists everywhere (not just the ones who are good at writing funding bids) would be have the chance to ‘increase [their] sense of belonging’. If we had real options regarding work, and what we did with our leisure time then we would really find out, ‘what could become possible, if we invest our ideas, time and energy in the cities where we live’.
If we all had decent homes, and could feed ourselves, and our children as a matter of course, then the artistic process would be open to all of us.
That, in my view, would really be worth funding.