Alexis O'Hara at the National Review of Live Art, 2009
Britain’s National Review of Live Art – which to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary rebranded itself New Territories a couple of years ago – was, quite simply, the most important festival of performance art, live art, new theater, music, and dance in Europe. I have been associated with it from its inception back in 1979. For years its director and guiding light was Nikki Milican, around whose remarkable personality generations of artists from around the world – including many from here in the US – congregated as a sort of international family. The annual meetings of this extraordinary family took place in the uninviting setting of midwinter in Glasgow, Scotland, but its members seemed perfectly happy to gather there year after year. The fact that these reunions included some of the most esteemed performance artists and companies in the world – including Forced Entertainment, Alastair MacLennan, Goat Island, Black Market International, Ron Athey, and Guillermo Gómez-Peña – as well as young artists at the very beginnings of their careers made the NRLA one of the most important forcing houses for new performance anywhere.
Now, disaster has befallen the festival, its parent company New Moves International, and its director. Someone (I can’t say very much more because of continuing legal action) has cleaned out its accounts. Earlier this year the festival simply had to be abandoned. My friend and colleague Lois Keidan (of London’s Live Art Development Agency
) – who is herself an NRLA veteran – takes up the tale in her letter below. It would seem that a resolution of the legal mess – and any chance of the festival’s rise from its ashes – can be accelerated by paying for a full financial audit. The sum involved is not enormous, but by the standards of British arts funding it is an arm and a leg. Lois and her team and supporters are suggesting contributions of between £20 and £40, which is about $32 – $64. I know that many of us have been giving President Obama’s re-election campaign special consideration these last few months, but I’m going to make an exception for this. I hope some of you will as well.
Jürgen Fritz at the National Review of Live Art, 2010
Dear Friends of NRLA/New Moves International
Some of you may know about the terrible situation with NRLA/New Moves International (NMI) and the forced closure of the festival. You do all know, however, how significant Nikki Milican and NRLA/NMI have been on the cultural landscape of Scotland and the wider UK over many years and how catastrophic the loss of the festival and the loss of Nikki is, and will continue to be, for generations of artists.
The police investigation into the financial irregularities at NMI is continuing and they are working their way through a huge amount of financial paperwork. However it seems that one of the main problems the police are facing is that no-one has a clear idea of the true state of financial affairs that resulted in the closure of NMI. The thing that would make a difference is a full financial audit but this would cost at least £4000 and is something that neither Nikki nor the (former) NMI Board members can afford, especially as in this dreadful process Nikki has lost all her redundancy and pension rights.
We recently wrote to Creative Scotland and Glasgow City Council (NMI’s two primary funders) asking if they were prepared to pay for an audit but we feel this is extremely unlikely even though neither funder has confirmed that this will or will not be possible. However the clock is ticking on the police investigation and the sooner an auditor can be secured the better.
We are therefore proposing to do a simple fund-raising campaign amongst those who have performed at, attended, or just enjoyed NRLA/NMI over many years. Roughly 100-200 people contributing something between £20 and £40 would hit the target and any surplus could be put towards the ongoing NMI/Nikki Milican ’cause’. We do hope that you can contribute.
Artsadmin have very generously agreed to act as banker for donations and would ask that you:
Make a bank transfer to Artsadmin Ltd A/C 2, Lloyds TSB, Sort Code 30-93-80, Account Number 00805925.
(if you need to pay by cheque please write NMI on the back and post it to Gill Lloyd, Artsadmin, 28 Commercial St, London, E1 6LS)
Please do forward this email to others who you think would like to contribute.
With huge thanks
Lois Keidan and CJ Mitchell (Live Art Development Agency)
Judith Knight and Gill Lloyd (Artsadmin)
David Gale (artist)
Richard Layzell (artist)
Live Art Development Agency
+44 (0)207 0330275