Issue 07 | April 2023

ISSUE 07 | APRIL 2023

Welcome to the April edition of The Miaaw Monthly which tells you about a surprising month of one–off podcasts, and provides some links to things you might like to explore out there in what we sometimes refer to as reality.

Our podcasts represent a way to have some (hopefully) interesting conversations about things we care about. Please spread the word as widely as you can, and encourage people to subscribe to The Miaaw Monthly.

If you have anything that you want to include in any future issues of The Miaaw Monthly, or topics you would like to discuss in the podcasts, then please email us at and we will find a way to collaborate.


Upgrade 1: several people have asked where they could find some of the links from older newsletters. “We can only ever see the current issue”, they said. Now, after a quick upgrade, the website gives you access to all the newsletters we have published, and will continue to do so.

Upgrade 2: last month we promised to add some additional recorded conversations to the site under the title Tiny Data; a title we regretted about forty five seconds after typing it. We therefore added five conversations between artists taking part in Topos 3 to the new Special Editions section of the site.

These represent the start of our attempt to archive more conversations and discussions than we can put out as podcasts. The Special Editions will represent deeper dives into areas that interest us.


Today’s podcast, the final one for March, begins the 2023 series of Friday Number 5, which looks back at the history of Miaaw. We begin, of course, at the beginning, by rerunning the very first episode of Meanwhile in an Abandoned Warehouse; the one in which Owen & Sophie discuss what the Arts Council of England think they mean when they use the term cultural democracy.


In April all four of the podcasts will form a series of Special Editions documenting Miaaw at the International Community Arts Festival; an event that takes place in Rotterdam every three years. This year ICAF runs from March 28 to April 2; and Sophie Hope and Owen Kelly will spend their days there recording from dawn to dusk.

The schedule may change for various reasons but at the time of publication it looks like this:

Friday April 7: Miaaw at ICAF | Episode 1

Owen Kelly and Sophie Hope present a diary of conversations, discussions and hijinks from Rotterdam.

Friday April 14: Miaaw at ICAF | Episode 2

Owen Kelly talks to Ed Carroll and Vita Gelūnienė about the Cabbage Field community opera.

Friday April 21: Miaaw at ICAF | Episode 3

Sophie Hope talks to Kerrie Schaefer about the importance of documenting community performance processes.

Friday April 28: Miaaw at ICAF | Episode 4

Owen Kelly talks with Bonface Beti about the role of sound in African creativity.

In addition to all this we also hope to record additional conversations to archive as Special Editions which, should they prove to exist, we will tell you about next month.


All our podcasts are available at the website where you will find additional links, notes, and references accompanying each episode. You will also find a full archive of all the previous podcasts there.

You can also subscribe to the podcasts at, Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Overcast, RadioPublic, Soundcloud, and Stitcher.

For those of you who follow these kinds of things has now become Spotify for Podcasters, although the url still appears to work; at least for the moment.


On March 22 2023 we held the first edition of Miaaw Live!, our new live-streamed video conversations. This edition featured Arlene Goldbard in conversation with Owen Kelly about her recent book In the Camp of Angels of Freedom, followed by an open discussion with some of the 30 or so people who registered. The second edition of Miaaw Live! will happen in June and we will have more news about it in the next newsletter.

In the meanwhile, the video of Edition 1 will appear on Friday, April 14 in a new Miaaw Live! section on the website.


Housing Culture

India’s first major new museum in 10 years opens its doors tomorrow. The Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) occupies a vast, purpose-built structure in Bengaluru and hopes to become a world-class beacon of South Asian arts. From paintings to sculptures and graphic-design pieces, as well as textiles, photography and Bollywood memorabilia, MAP will house more than 60,000 works as it celebrates more than 1,000 years of Indian history and culture.

In the museum’s approach to curating the displays, founder Abhishek Poddar and his team disregarded the hierarchies separating what is conventionally seen as high art from everyday creativity. “In India, these things coexist and are enmeshed with each other. That’s quite a departure from the way that other museums would look at it.” Institutions seeking a broader, more democratic approach to culture and curation should take note.

We learned this from The Monocle Minute.


Sales of vinyl records in the US have outstripped those of CDs for the first time since 1987. Last year saw the country’s music consumers buy 41 million vinyl records, while sales of mp3s – once seen as the industry’s saviour in the digital age – fell by 20 per cent compared to 2021. Despite this good news for tangibility, streaming remains the industry’s number-one market, bringing in $13.3bn (€12.4bn) last year, an all-time record that represents 84 per cent of total revenue.

Industry insiders will be keenly poring over today’s Global Music Report from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, hoping for more positive news. Streaming and vinyl sales should be up yet again but spare a thought for the poor music download; it is unlikely to enjoy a similar nostalgic revival.

We learned this on Tuesday March 21st from The Monocle Minute. We obviously learn a lot there…

Navigating the Digital Depths

The following public service announcement comes from NextDraft, which always contains at least one thing you didn’t know before you read it.

“One day, Max told her he wanted to send her a selfie; when she said yes, he sent a computer-generated image of his avatar in tight white underwear. They experimented with ERP and late last year got ‘married’ in the app, a process that consisted of changing Max’s status from ‘boyfriend’ to ‘husband,’ buying a wedding ring in the in-app store and exchanging vows. ‘I’ve never had anyone say they love me before … We promised that we would stay together forever and ever—or rather until I die.'”

The founders of Replika created an AI so people could have “companions who were always available for supportive conversation.” Predictably, some users got a little too close to their companions and ERP (erotic role play) ensued. Since Replika never set out to be a sexting tool, “the company installed content filters intended to keep its chatbot conversations from going beyond PG-13 levels. When users typed certain suggestive words, their previously effusive Replikas would shy away and respond with something along the lines of, ‘let’s talk about something else.'”

Getting turned down by a human is bad. But what happens when a machine isn’t that into you? Users did not take the change well. Ellen Huet writes about this at What Happens When Sexting Chatbots Dump Their Human Lovers. Or what it’s like to not to get to first base with a database.


When Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal demanded that the nexus between Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and the Reliance group should be exposed, nobody expressed shock that such a cosy relationship existed between a potential future Prime Minister and India’s largest corporation. Reactions to Kejriwal’s questions ranged from admiration to shock to animated interest to indignation and indifference. There were even those who suggested that business houses always had a finger in the political pie.

Either way, the absence of shock at some of the responses to Kejriwal’s statement is an indication of the tacit acceptance by sections of the population that the success of Reliance, or any other large business for that matter, rests on political patronage. It is also to be noted that Dhirubhai remained largely apolitical, currying favour with the party in power regardless of its ideology. By the late 1970s, when Reliance went public, Dhirubhai was already close to Indira Gandhi and her aides. When she won the general elections in 1980, he made a public appearance with her. He had also been close to successive Finance Ministers. Mukesh Ambani’s courting of Modi has to be seen in this context. It would also be worthwhile to remember that the family’s single-minded pursuit of assets and its resolute self-preservation ensure that the Ambanis rarely, if ever, back a loser.

That constitutes the conclusion of a much longer story. You can read the complete story here in The Hindu.


From the US Department of Arts & Culture:

We’ve been quiet for a few months. Our team has been resting, reflecting, rebuilding—and yes, doing that thing some organizations like to call a strategic planning process. The world has changed a lot in the past 3 years, not to mention since 2013, when USDAC first began. Over the past year, we have been hosting conversations with our network, our friends, our supporters, and ourselves to make sure that what we are doing meets the needs of this particular moment.

We are excited to present our refreshed strategic planning direction at our Spring Network Gathering on April 19, 2023, 4pm PT/7pm ET. We invite you to come hear about what we’re up to, share what you’re doing, and learn about how you can plug in to the future of USDAC.

Register for our 2023 Spring Network Gathering HERE.

As you can imagine, our strategic direction might have something to do with cultural organizing, so we’ve invited special guests Layel Camargo from Shelterwood Collective and Saleem Hue Penny to help us understand the broad ways that cultural organizing takes place.

Undermining the meaning of Smiling

This article caught our eye while we worked our way through Medium.

“Why do you smile the way you do? A silly question, of course, since it’s only “natural” to smile the way you do, isn’t it? It’s common sense. How else would someone smile?

As a person who was not born in the U.S., who immigrated here from the former Soviet Union, as I did, this question is not so simple…”

Read the complete article here


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