I’ve just returned from the 1.Turkiye Cocuk ve Medya Kongresi in Istanbul-not Contantinople.
Oh look, I tried then to take myself seriously but couldn’t even manage a sentence.
I did however take the Kongresi seriously. On behalf of the Children’s Media Foundation, I was invited to speak at this new conference and share some of the lessons we’ve learned in the last few years.
The Kongresi was set up by the Turkish deputy prime minister to develop a strategy for children and media.
The two day event brought together representatives from across Turkey, adults, children and young people as well as “esteemed overseas experts” (about twenty professors and me) in child development, media studies (and me) and was, from my perspective brilliant. It was superb having lots of young people involved and at the heart of things.
And despite the language barriers (some interesting translations – “Our children are so intelligent, so beautiful and so clean” ), there was a fantastic spirit of collaboration and fun.
It was disappointing not to see a stronger presence from the Turkish kids’ media industry. I think they were invited and there were a number of trade stands but the talks, other than mine, Sabrina Unterstell from Prix Jeunesse, and kiwi programme makers Robyn Scott Vincent and Tanya Black were more from the media studies and media literacy POV, with titles such as “Cultural functions of the Cartoons”, and lots of words like pedagogy’, ‘positioning’. My title was also rather dry – “Children’s Media and Systems Related to Policy Issues”, but never fear, I spiced it up with some jokes and, I have to say quite a lot of triumphalism. But nobody left my session or fell asleep…
In essence I explained how the Children’s Media Foundation came to be and what it had achieved. The jokes and triumphalism weren’t strained or shoehorned in – since 2006, we have done a lot: I was going to list it all but you can read all that stuff over at www.thechildrensmediafoundation.org
It all went down rather well – there were genuinely interested questions, the moderator Prof. Dr Davut Dursun – head of the Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council – said it was “A critical presentation for the congress” and that “Congress should study this [our] model.” And that the Children’s Media Foundation “served as an example.” Go us.
I had been in two minds about attending – of all the members of the Children’s Media Foundation executive, I have the least experience and the fewest letters after my name. But I can tell the story of all that we have done and all that we want to do and who can argue with an airhead when she states that ‘children deserve the best media’? So go me.
Ooh and don’t you love that they made all the adult speakers submit photos of when they were children?
I’ve just remembered a brilliant thing someone said last Saturday. Rather fascinated by bees at the moment. As is everyone apparently. Hating to follow the herd, I can smugly say that I’m not interested in keeping them because it’s trendy – my big sister inherited a hive and I like being like her.
Whatever, the lovely ancient apiarist in Stroud market, advised me to wait a few years “When there will be lots of second hand equipment for sale as the herd move on. First it was chickens…” he said.
Then he said something else, and this is why I am writing before I forget it and fill my silly head with other chattery nonsense.
He said, “My primary school teacher taught me to keep bees.”
“Oh,” I gushed, picturing an Edwardian lady filling her country diary with bee keeping notes and thinking ‘how quaint, he must have grown up with Laurie Lee’.
The elderly bee keeper clearly knew I was filling my head with bucollocks (that’s rustic nonsense) so added, “She taught me to read.”
She taught me to read.
Well I can’t call it ‘News’ when it happened so long ago. It’s not that nothing happens in Jayne World, it’s just that I’m having too much fun doing whatever it is to write about it. And then something else comes along and well, I don’t like to brag.
OK yes I LOVE TO BRAG. I want to shout a lot about all the brilliant things I’m up to but I wasn’t brought up to do that and so a massive knob of guilt sticks like an uncooked crumble clags in my throat and I politely slip away to a quiet corner to cough it up and somehow, amid all the spluttering and gagging, whatever it was I wanted to SHOUT about suddenly doesn’t seem so important.
August is a great excuse not to blog – everyone’s away doing family holiday stuff and-or writing their great tome. I did neither. I spent August (and September come to that) jamming with bees. Well they were honeying but it all ended up on fresh bread and butter. AND I WON ROSETTES. Ooh, that was almost a brag.
There was loads of other stuff that I should have classed as News but is now Olds. But it’s all covered by NDAs and will have to wait until the TV SHOWS are broadcast. There will be BRAGGING then. Maybe. Depends how the TV SHOWS turn out I guess. All I can say is that it was Preschool mainly this summer.
And I did the annual party conferences again.
Preschool and Politics.
You can see how well joined up my life is. When I say, ‘did’ the conferences – I watched a lot of stuff on Telly, read lots of press releases, sat on the beach at Brighton and decided I probably wouldn’t do it next year. The Libdems were too far away in Glasgow (couldn’t afford the fare) so I relied on their press releases and live debates and twitter feeds, the Tories wouldn’t give me a press pass so I didn’t go anywhere near Manchester. I did however go to Brighton for the Labour bunfight (cheap ticket and a friend put me up).
I must must must write about all that seperately and I will. If not here, then on the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain website. Because I’m a MEMBER OF THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL and have been for some time. Ooh another brag. Go me.
But the best thing that happened all summer; the really very bestest best thing happened on the river. Thames. Pangbourne. 90 brand new year sevens all coming to Adventure Dolphin for a ‘getting to know you’- ‘teambuilding’-‘secondary school teachers are great’ sort of day. The weather and river conditions were perfect for… BLACKBERRIES. Scoffing our faces with berries only accessible to those in small canoes, free from dog piddle and traffic fumes – it’s surprising how quickly you get to know each other standing in a boat close to thorn bushes, how well you work as a team to get the best berries and how great the teachers really are when they’re soaking wet. Not sure how to BRAG about that – it’s not really news; just a complete joy to be a part of. Of course I WAS EXCELLENT spotting the blackberries and their potential in the first place….
Other Olds in brief:
So once more I’m up to date on My News. That is something to BRAG about.
My bags are packed ready for another brilliant Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield. This year is the tenth anniversary which is something to celebrate. If you have anything to do with children’s media (telly, games, online, publishing…) it is definitely the place to be and not just for those of us working in the UK. Each year the international opportunities grow. But it doesn’t lose it’s goodnatured, small industry feel. This year I am once more on the blogging team. All of the sessions are blogged so nobody has to miss out. You’ll be able to find the blogs, including mine, at www.thechildrensmediaconference.org
I’ve posted two blogs already. One involved a large onion for reasons that, well it was one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments and the other goes something like:
Jayne’s Guide to Sheffield
Sheffield Sheffield, it’s a wonderful town
The Hubs are up and the Crucible’s down,
Cinema 2 is in the hole in the ground,
Sheffield, Sheffield, it’s wonderful town!
Which I think goes to show that once again ‘you have to be there’.
…was this submission, on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children’s Media and the Arts, to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children. The APPG for Children is conducting a year long investigation around the question “Are Children Getting What They Want?”. Jocelyn Stevenson and I wrote this paper answering the question from a children’s media and arts perspective.
The results of the inquiry will be published later in the spring and you can read the whole of our report on the Children’s Media Foundation website. But to briefly summarise… Are children getting what they ‘want’ in terms of arts and media?
With little more than 1% of public funding for the arts directed at the children’s audience, despite the under-18s comprising 15% of the UK population, with fewer and fewer courses training specialist arts teachers, with current Education policy devaluing art, with libraries closing, the answer is NO. In terms of media, despite so many hours of dedicated children’s viewing, only 1% is brand spanking new UK content. And of that 1% very little editorial diversity or opportunity to reflect the rich variety of childhood experience. So no: children are not getting the opportunities they want, need or deserve to participate fully in cultural and artistic life.
Of course we say it a lot more eloquently than that in the paper and quote Nelson Mandela and Horton the Elephant. Which of course fills me with great pleasure and hope that the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children will not only continue to support our campaigns, but increase the pressure for change.
For the first time in several years, the world of children’s media have things to celebrate this Christmas.
– The Animation and Games tax relief which will help our production sector compete with the rest of the world and ensure more home grown content for our children.
– Ofcom and the ASA’s swift implementation of the Bailey review’s recommendations, which will help put the brakes on the sexualisation and commercialisation of our children
– www.parentport.org.uk, which offers parents one-stop access to all the UK’s media regulators.
However, there are still many challenges in 2013, especially for Children’s theatre, fine arts, music and dance which have been endangered by changes in Education and cuts to public arts funding.
So whether you and your family settle down to watch the BBC’s Christmas Doctor Who, or C4’s The Snowman and The Snowdog, or watch a performance of The Nutcracker, or your local pantomime, please remember that Children’s Arts and Media are not just for Christmas….
With all good wishes for a peaceful and prosperous New Year,
And it came to pass that all from the world of children’s media were invited to go unto the city of Sheffield to the Children’s Media Conference. And they gathered unto themselves the brightest and best from the firmament of ‘kids’ to listen and ask questions, to increase in wisdom and stature and find favour and commissions.
And lo! there was some wailing and gnashing of teeth as they gazed upon the financial abyss before them and ate pizzas.
But there was also great rejoicing for the pizzas were washed down with wine. And some brought glad tidings of transmedia opportunities.
And it came to pass that after three days, many who had slept too little and eaten too much stumbled out of the Showroom Cinema’s darkness into the light with visions of a media landscape filled with the milk and honey of highly valued, well funded children’s content. For surely miracles do happen.
And yea, verily I say unto thee, there will be epistles from Sheffield http://www.thechildrensmediaconference.com/blog/2012/ . Thus spake the seraph who forthwith is off to pack her wings before she trips over them and further dints her halo.
Been doing a spot of Morpurgoing recently. Sat in on Michael Parkinson’s Sky Arts masterclass with the lovely man a few weeks ago, for which there was much raiding of daughter’s bookshelf for stories like Kensuke’s Kingdom, War Horse, The Butterfly Lion, and being inspired by his autobiography.
Then last week Mr Morpurgo spoke at the Action For Children’s Arts Conference at the Unicorn Theatre. Such an inspirational, entertaining man. And impassioned. He spoke up for literacy. But not just simplistic, measurable reading and writing: “20% of children leave school unable to read. And of the 80% that can, few are theatre goers, book readers etc. So most are denied Freedom of Expression and the unfettered seeking of truth that awakens our creativity.”
The ACA’s paper, “Putting Children First” states that despite childen under 12 comprising 15% of the population only 1% of public funding for the arts is directed to their needs. 600 libraries have had to close. As Michael Morpurgo said, “The oxygen of freedom of thought and expression that children could access is being denied.”
How can that be fulfilling articles 17, 29 or 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child?
Three great meetings, one excellent film, several new lovely people and one brilliant cross cultural moment…
Firstly thank you to the Children’s Media Conference and UKTI for inviting me to meet with the China Animation Association Delegation. It was good to learn about the Chinese animation industry, meet some of its key players and begin to explore ways that we can work together in the future. I was particularly touched when the Ordos Dongsheng Skywind Animation Film Co., Ltd gave me The Big Horn, the delightful character from the Go Calf! animation series. I thought we were just going to have our photos taken together so it was a lovely surprise when I came away from the morning with The Big Horn under my arm.
And so onto the Annual General Meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children’s Media and the Arts. I added The Big Horn to the guest list. He was particularly impressed by the Grand Committee Room. So was I.
I was even more impressed by the meeting though. With Baroness Floella Benjamin re-elected as chair, and MPs Tom Watson and Damian Hinds as vice chairs, the meeting got down to the real business: reviewing the Bailey Review. One year after Reg Bailey’s report on the sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood “Letting Children Be Children” was published, we were able to bring together the regulators, broadcasters and other stake holders to discuss how they had implemented Reg’s recommendations and consider the successes and challenges. I remember when I read the report being somewhat cynical that any of the recommendations would be seriously followed through – it’s easy to pay lip service and equally easy to come up with excuses when nothing is done. But hats off to Ofcom, the Advertising Standards Authority, ITV, UKCISS and others as well for the changes that have been made – making it easier for parents to voice their concerns on www.parentport.org.uk, removing innappropriate advertising from inappropriate places to name the obvious. Good job to everyone who has signed up to better self regulation and the general good will and desire to protect young people from inappropriate… stuff. I’m generalising as I need to write a more detailed report for the parliamentarians that were unable to attend. I will also post something on the Children’s Media Foundation website. AND Reg Bailey will be speaking at the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield at the beginning of July. Besides, I’d rather post more photos of my day with The Big Horn.
I said Three Meetings… The third was the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain’s Children’s Committee. We met at BAFTA to discuss… things. Things to do with those that write for children. Things like contractual issues, intellectual property, the BFI plans for UK film, e-publishing: things like that. I think all of us on the committee would rather spend our time messing about with The Big Horn but we have to support ourselves if we are to provide good quality content for young people.
The film? Jeff Who Lives At Home. Loved it. So did The Big Horn although he did have to ask me what a bong was.
So a busy day. Oh what was the brilliant cross-cultural moment? I’m sure you’ll have guessed that during the Chinese Delegation meeting there was a certain amount of stifled tittering amongst the British participants every time The Big Horn was mentioned: nobody dared to catch anyone else’s eye and there was much chewing of lips, especially when the Chinese-English translator talked about the “happy growth of the Big Horn”. Then when one of the English contingent began to speak, I saw a pair of Chinese shoulders begin to heave, I saw others stifling their titters, desperately not looking at each others, chewing their lips. I can only imagine what the translation was and hope it gave my new friends as much pleasure as The Big Horn gave me.
Just opened the latest copy UK Writer Magazine and there I was! Gail Renard writing about the Tax Breaks for animation, high end drama and video games says, “A special mention goes to Jayne Kirkham, Children’s Committee Chair; Andy Walsh, who oversees video games at the Guild and also members of the Television Committee for their tireless work in lobbying for these tax breaks. We got them.” As there is still much work to be done finalising said tax breaks and working out the fine detail, I assume that when she says “we got them”, Gail means the Guild, Andy, me or the rest of the Television Committee. Not sure if I’m feeling wanted or bagged. I suspect it’s both. You can read Gail’s article here. I think. if I’ve done this bloggy-linky thing properly. Oh it was all going so well…