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The new place space race, and my five-point plan for shrill recovery

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Ian Martin gets his traction on

MONDAY. Morning: I feel the need to inspire Britain’s creative industries. So, following George Osborne’s lead, I give Britain’s creative industries six weeks to sort themselves out before we all come after them with SHOVELS AND ROCKS. Proper incentive, that’s all they need.

Afternoon: I feel the need to be more helpful. So, in line with the forceful rhetoric of  Ed Balls, I resolve to devise a five-point plan for Britain’s creative industries. Evening: I completely forget to devise this plan, though luckily I still have my scribbled notes.

TUESDAY. Spend the entire day working up my scribbled notes into a five-point plan. Every now and then I take a little break for imagined applause, and inferred commendation.

1. The Cultural Significance Holiday. This would allow small creative businesses to apply for a waiver exempting them from cultural significance if they take on extra creative staff. The scheme could probably be funded with all the money left over from the government’s failed cultural significance rebate fund, for all I know.

2. The Amazon Architecture Initiative. This would encourage independent cultural service providers to think of their work less in terms of art and more in terms of fast-track Super Saver product delivery.

3. ‘Boobs’. Still at the draft stage, but basically some sort of cheeky nudge for urbanism that gets planners and civic dignitaries alike talking to ordinary folk about ‘boobs’. Maybe it’s merging the idea of a bus and the idea of the Tube into a hybrid transport solution – ‘the Boob’. Maybe it’s a network of community hubs, painted pink or whatever, called ‘boobs’. It really isn’t prescriptive. Think of it as an opportunity to fire the public imagination using a mildly transgressive and patronising word. Perhaps there could be a national funding competition between cities on the BBC, presented by a 25 year-old toff in a waistcoat, to find the nation’s best ‘Boobs on the Beeb’. It would be the taking part that would count, not the winning.

4. Cut VAT to 5 per cent for ‘creative home improvements’ such as sculpture in the window or a miniature FAT-style facade running across the top of the front door. 

5. Escalating Place Space Attack. Place is a ‘creative medium’, whether inside or outside, whether public or private. Yet people simply don’t appreciate how much places matter, even when they’re moving through them. We need a public education programme, escalating in shrillness at each stage, to teach people that places matter, and that the space in those places matters too.

WEDNESDAY. Traction already. The City of Liverpool – not all of it of course, just the creative part – has asked me to put together a programme of ‘place space’ education.

There are a huge number of places in Liverpool, many of them under-appreciated. The situation is now pretty urgent. If space in these places remains unheeded how can creative, under-appreciated professionals make a living from it? There’s no time, or place, or space to lose.

THURSDAY.Present my escalating space place campaign to the creative part of the City of Liverpool.

From now until Christmas, the campaign will be called Place Space Matters. A simple message, gently but sternly reminding non-creative Liverpudlians that they’re overlooking a valuable resource.

For the first quarter of next year, an exclamation mark will be deployed, making the campaign harder to ignore: Place Space Matters! The exclamation mark will be especially difficult to ignore in the middle of sentences, or just before the end of a question. For instance: ‘How can I get involved with Place Space Matters!?’

Next spring, assuming minimal awareness-raising, the campaign will escalate to capital letters. Then later in the year, in a desperate attempt to provoke a reaction, will escalate to offensive rudeness: PLACE SPACE MATTERS YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!

FRIDAY.I have alienated the whole of Liverpool, even the creative part, again.

SATURDAY. Five-a-zeitgeist theoretical football. Ultimate Fantasy Architecture 3, Interior Design Murder Mystery 0.

SUNDAY. Cultural overview in the recliner. Ugh. Usual puffy drivel about the healing properties of natural light, some smug lifestyle types and their eco-boiler, a Darcy Farquear’say feature on that Essex arts centre shaped like a half-eaten sausage roll and WHOA!

Status anxiety attack: the Creative on Sunday has published its annual UK Epic Space Hot 100, and I’m not in it! Memo to Self: commission new brand identity, asap.

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