On cliques and Divisiveness

There’s been a few random accusations made recently about cliques and divisiveness in Lancaster, with someone called wtf explicitly blaming The Lunecy Review for this. Unfortunately wtf (and his compatriots Leonard and other pseudonymous correspondents) fail to name names, especially their own (other than their dislike of Rchard Davis), so its hard to be clear who they are talking about or if they actually know what they are talking about.
No, scratch that, I know this: wtf and co do not know what they are talking about, and I believe the don’t want to know what they are talking about, as that would spoil their petty sniping and trouble making. If there is divisiveness in the city then it comes directly and solely from the likes of these writers. If there is cohesion in the city, then TLR has played a small part in building that.

Let us look at some facts ignored by wtf.
The Lunecy Review is not solely Lancaster oriented, but covers the South lakes and North Lancashire area as evidenced by, for example, shortlisting for Barrow and Garstang based artists.
The Lunecy Review is not solely focussed on music, as reviews of poetry, theatre, comedy, visual art, and even burlesque should make clear.
The so-called scene covered by The Lunecy review is not, to use wtf’s words ‘really quite a small group of friends and aquaintances’. I don’t know the exact numbers of individuals involved in the events covered so far by TLR, but taking into account performers, writers, stage and tech crew, front of house crew, promoters, venue managers etc it must be close to 4 figures. Add in perhaps as many more involved in events we haven’t yet been able to cover (I attended well over 100 gigs last year, plus many art shows, book launches, etc but missed as many if not more through time, energy and financial constraints.) and all those who view but don’t perform, audience members, and the numbers grow significantly. Is several hundred, maybe a couple of thousand even, really a small clique? Of course not. Do they all know each other? Don’t be ridiculous. At the launch of Richard Davis’ Dukes show I was asked by several people who others were, and I met a number of people there for the first time myself. That’s one show. At a recent gig I recognised just a handful of faces amongst a sizeable crowd. Another night I met several new interesting and interested people.
When I started this site I barely knew any of you beyond nodding in the street. So much for cliques.

Wtf though would have you believe that in reviewing these people, in offering you all a platform to comment, I am sowing division. Not at all, I firmly believe that TLR has brought an awareness to many people of the range of local artists active and worthy of their time and money. I know for certain that one local author discovered a local band through this site, I suspect that many others have similar tales. If that’s divisive I’d like to know why.
Others say that having awards is bad, well your mileage may vary on this, but the views on this site trebled this week as a result of the shortlists appearing. Many of those up for awards have announced it proudly on their facebook or myspace pages, often alongside the quotes from or links to reviews here. Professional and amateur artists have been pleased to be reviewed, pleased to be nominated, and the votes are flooding in, many from those who haven’t commented previously on here. (Interesting note here, at least one of those who purports to dislike the concept of awards has put his vote in. Do you smell hypocrisy?)

Those seeking disharmony and attention for themselves, Leonard and wtf and others, throw accusations of cliquery and division, but they will not, because they cannot, back it up with reasoned argument.
The Lunecy Review has run for just over ten months now, and I am proud of what it has achieved, in Lancaster, in Kendal, in Barrow, in music, literature and arts reviewing. There was a void, some say nobody wanted reviews, but over 31,000 views of TLR so far say different. An average of 303 per day so far this week say different.
One of the primary aims of this site has always been debate, healthy informed conversation. Wtf etc are entitled to their views, pathetic though they have been shown to be, but remember this, there is so much more to the arts in this area than The Lunecy Review, and in turn therefore, so much, much more than the snide negativity of a handful. (assuming they aren’t all the same cowardly person hiding under a false name to match the false assertions they make.)

— Kev McVeigh, Editor The Lunecy Review


40 Responses

  1. I think you’re lumping all the detraction together there, sexy.

    I don’t know who these anonymous people are, and I wish they wouldn’t be anonymous. I can see why they might, though, if they had any store in doing anything around here, where if you’re not on the wall of the dukes this week, you’re nobody, man.

    wtf, leonard and others seem to be different voices with different perspectives… some a bit “tin foil hat” and some a bit more reasoned and sensible. I think addressing them all with one big post about how you dislike being argued with and how awesome TLR is seems, well, pretty much the problem these guys are raising.

  2. Dave, I’m not saying I dislike being argued with, I explicitly say that i want discussion. I just think they are casting unfounded negative remarks that do exactly what they are wrongly claiming I do, and failing to back it up and that is counter to a spirit of healthy debate.
    And I’m not on the wall of the Dukes, nor are you, nor the majority of TLR contributors, but we’re not nobody.
    Oh, and it’s not about how awesome TLR is, just that it does more for cohesion than these commentators will admit, and that i don’t believe its divisive per se.

  3. i would like to sincerely apologise for my comments

    having re-read them i can see how they come across and i didnt mean to be so harsh and i think some of what i wrote was unfair

    i do recognise the huge effort you’ve put into this site and it has become much more diverse and covers a very broad range of events and artists

    i had a bit of a problem with the awards and a couple of other minor issues but nothing that warranted those kind of comments, i could have expressed myself in a nicer way

    i would like to request that you remove my comments as i feel bad that they are there, if you dont want to thats ok but i would prefer it if you did

    sorry again and the best of luck with your website in the future

  4. I’m sorry if you’ve felt any of my comments/contributions negative. It wasn’t my intention to suggest that TRL promotes derision and ‘cliques’ – much less to seek conflict for its own sake or draw any unnecessary attention to myself.

    My aim in reconsidering my vote was to come collect. If a change of heart strikes you as hypocritical then my apologies. I’ll aim to be more consistent in future. Glancing back now, and reading the above post, I wonder if I might be taking things a bit too seriously?

    My contribution probably says more about my own interests/values than it does about TLR, but I meant for it to be read as such and simply to reflect the view that voting for favorites amongst friends and acquaintances struck me – on reflection – as something I couldn’t get wholly behind.

    Whilst I felt like supporting my friends, acquaintances etc. Not to mention TLR, I decided there were more meaningful ways I could be doing this.

    It was never clarified exactly what the poll would hope to achieve. If discussion was the desired outcome than it’s been a success. Reading your comments up top, I’m glad some people have been able to get some use out of it and hope that future outcomes will be good for all. I just don’t feel like having any further part in the poll.

    I like this site and check it regularly. I’ve been reviewed on here, reviewed on here, contributed to discussion and generally looked forward to reading others’ input. I think TLR’s been a valuable resource for much interest, discussion and development within the local community/communities and would like to see that continue. The reviews are diverse and reflect the different personalities and interests of all the contributors as much as any painting, poem or performance could.

    As for remaining anonymous. I’d prefer to keep that liberty while it’s still available. The web seems to offer a pretty solid space for becoming something other than you are – ownership of argument notwithstanding. These sorts of opportunities may be becoming less and less available and I’d like to protect them where I can.

    I hope you’ll understand.


  5. Hey, I’ve been accused of being Leonard, WTF and @RealStuartAnthony…..how does that work? I think its easy for people to pick on easy, visible targets. Much the same as you and Richard have been Kev.

    Just to clarify, , I have performed in and promoted Totally Wired events, been photographed by and written a complementary review on amongst others Richard Davis, written articles n reviews and reposted blogs for The Lunecy. I’ve introduced many acts to both Kev and Richard and vice versa. I play in several local bands and promote gigs, events and like you, have been text slapped on here along with everyone else.

    So, you see, whatever good you do, someone will always turn on you and fuck you over without reason. Its the darker side of human nature.

  6. @Wes, I Think its part of the deal, stick your head up get shot at. I just prefer the bullets to be accurate.
    @anonymous, your secret is safe Gerald (ooops! )
    I understand the reasons for some pseudonyms, but when just used to attack then I have concerns.
    @Wtf I will consider your request but I think that however intemperate the beginnings the ensuing discussion may be worthwhile. Let me know if that’s not to your liking. Hopefully you will become part of the discussion rather than on the perceived outside?
    — kev

  7. hi kev

    i think i would like you to remove the posts, they dont really add anything constructive and i dont think removing them would detract from the logic of the thread in question

    this would then give me a chance to express my views in a more thoughtful and friendly way under a name that isnt an abbreviation of “what the fuck” too.. but its up to you, if you would rather they stayed thats fine too

  8. I’m very happy that TLR’s views trebled as a result of the awards shortlist being published (is it all about the viewing figures? Premium rate phone line voting next?) but I cannot for the life of me see how The Lunecy Awards can be seen as anything but divisive; unless of course you’re one of the listed candidates. Even then, most of them are going to lose (i.e. the ones with fewer friends and/or email accounts) but publicity is as publicity does.
    Speaking as an active artist/musician/writer in Lancaster I can say for a fact that it hurts to be ignored. We all crave respect from our peers, we are sensitive bastards after all. The RD photo debate has already ‘raged’ but this just adds insult to injury to those already left off that particular list. The shortlist seems to me the usual suspects i.e those already hanging (in the photographic sense) in the Dukes (bar Dave W of course) ..it’s all become Peter’s Friends.
    I don’t really get this site to be honest so I’ll fuck off.

    • “I cannot for the life of me see how The Lunecy Awards can be seen as anything but divisive” Peter


      People who are finding the lunecy awards ‘divisive’ are just using it as a tool. you would probably find a fluffy bunny divisive.

      I am not going to miss out if I lose. If I hadn’t been nominated in the first place, I would have voted for the person whose writing I enjoyed the most and not gone to my bedroom to cry because I had ‘missed out’ and not been recognised.

      I don’t even know where the dukes are and this famous gallery of local celebrities that are apparently stealing all the limelight.

      Kev, trying to get any sense out of these people seems like banging your head against a wall.


  9. I am glad this discussion is starting to get a bit more grown up.

    I don’t think awards make you competitive to fellow artists. I consider the others on the shortlist my peers, and Norman Hadley is going to get just as much verbal abuse from me as he normally does, awards or no awards! (it is friendly verbal abuse though, and he always returns it!)

    My point is, no outside influence, or force, can ‘make’ me decide to become ‘against’ other writers. We need each other to survive-who else is going to buy our stuff/come to our readings? I’m pretty sure its the same with artist and musicians as well.


  10. Peter, and others, this is about the local arts culture not about Richard Davis. But since you raised the issue I had a quick look. Of the 23 distinct names on the Award shortlists just six, yes 6, have their photos on the wall at The Duke’s. (Richard doesn’t have his own picture up, but you could consider him a seventh.) It looks as though your preconceptions have misled you on this occasion.
    I am interested to hear why celebrating the scenes is divisive though. Is it a universal view you take of all awards? Does it make a difference if its a popular vote (eg the TV Soap awards), a vote restricted to a qualifying constituency (the Oscars ) or a juried award (the MAN Booker)? Or is that you retain a view that its just a handful of people in the scene?
    I assume you think X will resent Y winning but that is their issue to deal with. The award hasn’t created or fostered that insecurity.
    Feel free to discuss. …

  11. Peter is correct. Unfortunately its a fact, these activities are proving to be damaging. Sorry Kev but this is an example of how people feel.
    However, I think we are stuck with them and must ask what will the long term consequences be? I reckon after about 11 mins of being announced no one will remember nor give a toss. When Richards photos come down, yes, no one will remember nor give a toss. To me its like Lancaster is emulating, on a small scale, the vapid, inconsequential and all pervading celebrity culture. Its infuriating to some.
    As I say, these things are so absolutely insignificant in real terms that really no one should be getting that upset.

  12. However if a cash prize is at stake….I’m voting TEOHL

  13. Wes, I understand that this is how a few people feel, the three or four that have made their view known. I assume that the much larger number voting think awards are okay, otherwise why vote?
    More to my point though is that if all you say is ‘it is divisive ‘ then I can’t agree. Tell me how or why, let me understand, then I may agree or differ.

  14. I didn’t say divisive, I said it was damaging. You know, the usual reasons as Peter points out. But like I also said, this is all very, very inconsequential, mostly the damage can be rectified, no one remembers nor gives a toss really. Its nice to pretend it does I guess.
    Personally, my non involvement is due to my not wanting to risk permanent damage with people I know and respect who feel aggrieved by this and don’t yet share my assertion that its not that big a deal . Its a personal thing. And as I told you privately there’s no reason for you not to go for it. Its good for site ‘hits’ n shit. Maybe it will generate more contributors this year instead of us lot blathering on.

  15. Wes, Peter used the word divisive, you then said he was right, hence the attribution of the same word to you. Apologies for that.
    But this is how I view things:
    If I go to see Electric Free Time Machine tomorrow and applaud that only means I like that performance, it in no way implies anything about Another Band playing elsewhere on the same or another night in the same or another night. If I vote for X it doesn’t mean I dislike Y or Z. Those who feel aggrieved by the process puzzle me because it seems only to reflect their own self image not any view of TLR or its readers.
    I also believe that if you are opposed to these awards then you do all the artists listed, and perhaps those not listed to, a huge disservice. As I said these awards have greatly increased the site profile, and in response to Peter yes it is partly about the views because that is how the people reviewed get more attention, and many of these people are trying to make their living from their art, or at least not lose too much. So if X fans come along to vote and discover Y then that is not damaging in my book. And maybe Y might not be shortlisted but discovered in a review anyway, maybe one of those aggrieved friends of yours might still get recognition.
    And yes, maybe one or two new writers or new artists will come to all our notice from this.
    — Kevin

  16. lol, two great vids Stuart.

  17. I apologise too if my opposition to the awards is causing you such distress, my reasons are very clear though.
    I do however, as you know, endorse the site as a whole, and have spent many hours workin on it and contributing to its output. Long may it continue.

    • I am not upset Wes, just frustrated to hear that people are aggrieved, think its damaging, divisive etc but nobody can tell me what they are aggrieved about. These awards are being condemned but nobody is saying what the charge is, or producing evidence.
      But of course you must stick by your friends, I’d never criticise that.
      — Kev

  18. FFS these awards are a bit of fun. Can’t people stop being so hypersensitive and accept them for what they are. I don’t see how or why as Kev says people are getting so tetchy about this.

    Or maybe its’ a case of sour grapes for some of the folk not included? I mean at the end of the day everyone has had a chance to hand in their nominatons for their ‘favourite’ local artists. There are always going to be omissions, its’ nothing personal. Lancaster is a small town/community and there are going to be small cliques/groups (whatever you wanna call it) who hang out together/sociallize, its’ the way it goes. Its’ inevitable somewhat. EFTM for example should not feel aggrieved as they have featured many times on the site previously (I have in fact reviewed one of their performances) and are in my opinion one of Lancaster’s finest bands. I myself nominated them and am a little surprised that more didn’t. At the end of the day awards are always gonna be controversial as such and such artists hasn’t been included and if its’ true of The Oscars, the Baftas etc then its’ certainly true of TLR.

  19. Oh my. It’s all going on here isn’t it.
    As a member of aforementioned “EFTM” I can assure you we are not aggreived in the slightest.
    We’re fine where we are, but thanks for nice words.x

  20. Hmmm, Storm in a tea cup?

    I think you could feel upset for not being amongst the chosen ones, but seriously need to have a word with yourself if you rely on this kind of thing for your own self-worth.

    I’m not sure I’m personally into awards of any sort, or take much notice of them, but if this all manages to bring a few more people to know things that are new to them (as did RD’s exhibition) then all the better.

  21. I think the reason I’m not entirely comfortable with the Lunecy Awards is because voting for winners doesn’t reflect my attitude to the arts. Awards imply that one artist is objectively better than the rest but surely responses to art, music, writing and performance are purely matters of opinion. Is the word “best” ever helpful or meaningful in the context of self-expression and entertainment? I’m interested in people’s reasons for liking/disliking my own or other people’s stuff but a numerical vote lacks that subtlety and detail.

    I think my response to these awards is also partly coloured by my attitude to the occasional small contributions I’ve made to the local scene. I’m very much an enthusiastic amateur trying to get better at what I do rather than somebody looking to achieve recognition or a career. I can see that winning an award might in a small way help somebody who is taking their work more seriously than I do to promote themselves or give them some encouragement to keep going.

    Some reactions in this thread surprise me in their vehemence but I have some sympathy for suggestions that the idea of local arts awards is potentially damaging. I can’t prove this to be true but I instinctively suspect that it is the case – that ultimately this will create a little more disappointment than delight.

  22. Lol, o the irony. This article is the definition of ‘divisive’ ( I’m starting to hate that word)

  23. ‘All that anybody needs to know about prizes is that Mozart never won one’ Henry Mitchell

    don’t get me started on the flippin Oscars….

  24. I’m comparing myself to Mozart there, obviously.
    One more thing, in the interests of inclusiveness and good karma may I point out to all you good artist types that this Sunday sees the Gregson Open Mic takes it’s faltering steps into 2010. Tangible people realising their muse in a non judgmental (may be sniggering?) arena. No lists, no selection, no idea. Just turn up and do your thing.
    kev, could you post this event on the homepage please? Is this a listings site, I never know. Many thanks.

  25. Quote –

    ‘if you are opposed to these awards then you do all the artists listed, and perhaps those not listed to, a huge disservice’


    Now, assuming this is by the editor, well, words almost fail me. It seems all oppositional opinion is indeed beneath consideration. A very reductive way of running an open forum. Indeed I’d say it borders on the egomaniacal.

  26. Leonard,
    re ‘assuming this is by the editor’, we;; it has my name attached so why would it not be by me?

    re oppositional opinion being beneath my consideration.
    As I have said repeatedly above, IF all you do is say I’m wrong, this is divisive, this is bad, etc, without further elaboration then yes, your opinion is meaningless.
    On the other hand IF as Simon Baker does you can make some attempt to convey why you feel this way, then readers can make their own mind up.
    Without any reasoning from you how can anyone judge your opinion and respond appropriately?
    — Kevin McVeigh

  27. Golly, I’m glad I dont work for you, how awfully abrasive, rude and reactionary. I don’t actually know enough about the divisions discussed here, and quite, this is not the point I’m making. I’m merely commenting on the extraordinary pomposity of the editors remarks and style. Do you go out of your way to try and suffocate opinion?. I suggest you let others have theirs.

  28. As repeatedly stated here, all opinions are welcome, contributors all ways welcomed. And debate is good, but again, all you do is make meaningless remarks.
    I accept I can be rude, but in this context I genuinely feel I am responding to nasty and unsubstantiated abuse.

    Tell me, exactly how is it reactionary to expect people to explain their position? How is it suffocating to hope that people will reply to my points with their points rather than just a meaningless ‘you’re wrong’ you’re rude’ etc?
    I’m willing to listen if you can actually explain.

  29. I don’t think awards are bad, and I don’t think these ones are divisive.

    For me, art is not really about expression. That always seems really histrionic. I get together with some dudes I think are rad and we combine our various specific musical “things” that we like to do in order to create something that didn’t exist previously. Like a cake. Then we eat the cake, share the cake, etc. No big deal.

    That activity is *entirely* unaffected by other people receiving awards.

    However, if someone recognises that our cake appeals to them, and someone else agrees, and then people get together and demonstrate (through voting) that they like our cake, then other people might notice the cake, which means they might throw a few quid our way, which makes a real difference to the sustainability of the fairly expensive to run New Zealand Story.

    Furthermore, if NZS is seen to be winning awards of any kind, this makes the process of booking more interesting gigs, etc, slightly easier, which clearly leads to improved exposure and, in turn, sales.

    Selling a handful of records each week is the difference between replacing mics and not. It’s the difference between new monitors for making the next record with and working with the same old gear. It’s the difference between being able to pay someone to come in to record a cello part rather than having to rely on peoples’ good nature.

    The more we are recognised in this way, the more records we will sell, and the more adventurous our next record will be.

    It’s here, by the way:


    By the same token, if Mikey Kenney wins this award, which he should, really, then I would just be entirely happy for him. This would have no detrimental effect on NZS at all.

    There is a clear difference between this kind of channel of attention and the kind of arbitrary celebrity generated by other things I’ve spoken about.

    There is an enormous clique/elite/snobbery problem in Lancaster. The way I see it, this award, the Lunecy Review and Kev McVeigh have nothing to do with that.

  30. I had trouble with cliques when my meat supplier was selling fish her husband had caught for two-thirds of the price he was selling them for. She was paying for it by selling him, at twice its price, meat he was flogging on to his mistress. I was paying both their drivers a third of double what they were asking at a thirty-five percent GP. No-one knew what was going on.

    I don’t mean to get all Welsh on this discussion but Lancaster is a small town, I lived there for some years in a musical as well as friendly capacity and attained a BA hons degree in English as well as blue balls and a dehydrated liver, and there was never, from Captain Rhino and the Big Horns to Jo Gendle, a musical moment that wasn’t worth discussion.

    Creativity doesn’t divide into 312 square miles fairly without some of it being under water or on public ground so all put a fiver in, have a drink or two and enjoy the oscars while grafittiing the walls of the Dukes with some borrowed lipstick.

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