Video, community and political support in the cultural policy of the Greater London Council 1981-1986
Supervisors: Dr Jamie Medhurst (Aberystwyth) and Professor Gabriella Giannachi (Exeter)
In 1981 the ‘loony left’ took control of the Greater London Council with their ‘socialist policy’ for the city. The arts barely figured in the London Labour Party’s original manifesto but, throughout what would come to be the council’s final term, their cultural policy played a significant and political role. Dealing with a recession that had led to unemployment and exacerbated racial and social tensions in the city, and facing increasing threats of disbandment by the Thatcher government, the GLC undertook a uniquely political approach to cultural policy. Embracing new concepts of the ‘cultural industries’ the council funded up to a dozen film and video projects within politically active groups across London, and economically supported film and video enterprise. Although there are primary written sources documenting these GLC supported projects, little research has been done to evaluate their impact and legacy. Through archival research of videos and through conducting, collating and analysing supporting oral histories, my research will investigate the impact of the GLC’s political cultural policy, and ask us what we can take from it for today.
My research is funded by the AHRC South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership. Prior to coming to Aberystwyth I studied my BA and MA in London, and worked with film and video archives along with being politically involved in grassroots organising in the city.