Martin Bright

Ask the artists

Ask the artists
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Sadly I had to miss the Channel 4 political awards last night. But it was worth it to be at a reception at No 11 to celebrate young British artists and the not-so-young Young British Artists, if you get my drift.

Hosted by Alistair Darling and his wife Maggie, it was a great occasion. Andy Burnham even got a few laughs from a potentially difficult audience.

The event also allowed me to pitch my idea for a New Deal of the Mind. It struck me that the phenomenally successful YBAs left college straight into the last recession and are therefore as well-placed as anyone to advise the government about how to get through it.

I had a long chat to the Wilson twins (one at time, pictured above) who have been working on a piece about Stanley Kubrick's unfinished film about the Warsaw ghetto. They have also been working collecting the testimonies of asylum seekers and refugees for a project in Derby. I would have thought it was just this sort of oral history/archive related art that could be used to create useful and interesting work for people during the downturn.

I also talked to Tracey Emin about it and she stared into the middle- distance for a scary amount of time before saying: "enterprise allowance". It turned out that Louise Wilson was also on this Thatcher-era scheme that allowed people on the dole to set up businesses. For those of us who were young during the last recession it was a godsend.

So let's hear it for the enterprise allowance scheme, the launchpad for the British contemporary art boom. And the odd left-wing journalist.