Andy Ward responds to the blog post

Off topic to start with I guess – it is the 1st time we ( have been mentioned alongside Artisan and Magic Garden outside the phrase ‘a lot louder than….’ or ‘not as posh as…..’ but I am aware Si at Framework Studios is a more than exceptional producer but that is not why I am here (but thanks for the inclusion).

I feel I should establish my lack of credentials here….I have played for over 20 years from empty pubs to 3000 people….I love music, but not all of it – all my formal qualifications (degrees / MPhil) are outside of music – I have only been running my own business for less than two years.

Funding: It hasn’t yet been 18 months since we moved Framework Studios out of the congested basements of Hockley to bigger premises with a vision of creating a small hub of people genuinely interested in music and ALL of its associated artistic and business areas.

I have to say that after 6 months of sheer bloody-minded arguing and some truly mind-numbing blunders we received a 5k Creative Space grant – which was a massive boost for us in year 1. But this is the thing….that 5k went towards relocation, rent, building materials (we built every room ourselves),  infrastructure, security, legal and professional fees for 3 people in a 2, 500 square foot business. Now that’s value for money…

However – these types of grants are available for pretty much any start up – but here is the thing: we spent 5k and created a thriving, happy, encouraging, inclusive music playground AND business turning a small profit in year 2 from start up without the wasted hundreds of thousands thrown at most god-awful music programmes and projects in the West Midlands. So – I have to agree, though somewhat hypocritically, that I don’t hold with the principals of the funding either – or at least not under the current system anyway of chucking hundreds of thousands into a bottomless hole and hoping to fill it.

As another aside you have no idea how much bile and anger has started to come back to me just writing about this topic some 18 months after the events over funding.  A few people in the end were angels but the rest…and the system….AARGH!!

Having attended several funded and sponsored events over just the past 2 years I remain utterly dumbfounded as to where the money goes or exactly what any funding has hoped to achieve – except for watching some nepotistic, city-centric, self-promoting truly awful nonsense. I attended one with a Bristol arts writer bud and we left half way through both howling with laughter and crying that that is where our money was going – shameful really.

I have reached the point where I consider this to be fast becoming a rant and a tirade against the near-contuniuous stream of a**-holes that you have to wade through only to reach an uninhabited atomic island, stripped of ideas and bereft of a sense of reality (Lost, anybody??). It really shouldn’t be – there are some excellent bands out there, young and old, great promoters, great venues, great times ahead but all of them survive, just about.

There are no paid gigs except for those who turn to the dark side of covers and tributes, there are no easy promotions and many lazy promoters, there are venues looking and needing to make money in a tight and overcrowded market faced by closures that are reluctant to try new music for lack of new crowds or alienation of existing ones.

You do not fix these things by throwing money at them. Good bands will be listened to, good promoters will source good acts and promote them well, some venues will stick by their guns to raise themselves above the others. Sandwell needs a venue, cheap, simple for use by all – what do we get? The Public…shame on you all.

All this can be achieved by small donations and grants, spreading the money around in small packets to those with drive and commitment. Instead – all the huge amounts of money we get assigned goes to a handul of organisations to squander and fritter on self-glorification and the further promotion of expensive white elephants.

Andy ward,