What happened to arts organisations during the pandemic? In The Club on the Edge of Town: A Pandemic Memoir (Salamander Street, 2022), Alan Lane, Artistic Director of SlungLow, a theatre company based in Leeds in the North of England, explores this question by telling the story of the theatre company and the community in 2020. Beginning from the decision to partner with Britain’s oldest working men’s club, through the lockdown, to the pivot to serving the local area by becoming ‘a non means tested self-referral food bank’, the book captures the heroic efforts of a community to survive whilst still being artists and making art. By telling the story of The Holbeck during the pandemic, the book raises profound questions about how we organise society and its welfare state, alongside the nature of art and culture. It will be essential reading across the arts, humanities, and social sciences, as well as for anyone interested in understanding why and how the arts matter to society.
Dave O'Brien is Professor of Cultural and Creative Industries, at the University of Sheffield.
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