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Pravda spacer The Vacuum - Issue 16 - Satan
Pravda - DCAL Corporate Strategy
by Stephen Hackett
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Behold the DCAL Corporate strategy, a publication so large in scale one could make an adequet tent for a small dog with it. As a way into understanding this complex document let's start with the vision thing. Minister Angela Smith tells us in the introduction that 'Culture, Arts and Leisure are all key to enhancing the quality of peoples lives. DCAL see it as their mission to 'contribute to a secure, competitive economy, through cultural tourism, waterways, fisheries and the creative industries'. This is their second strategy document and it lists the achievement of the department between 1999-2004. This list contains a number of worthy projects and ambiguous phrases including; Motorsport strategy(?), Special Olympics, Centres of curiosity and imagination, (e.g W5), Buy out of Salmon nets, Digitisation, Reform plans and so on....
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As with most strategy documents if you're lost at this stage a few flow and pie charts should clarify matters, explaining the complex mission which DCAL undertake. A Venn diagram illustrates the intersection between People (creators and consumers) Products and Services (Angling, Maps, Sporting success and Intellectual property) and Infrastructure (Museums, Waterways, Sports grounds).
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The 'implementing the strategy' section reads like some dirgeful catechism from a worn-out priest- 'we will listen, learn and look for the best in others and give the best of ourselves....'
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Other parts sound like they have been put into a random corporate strategy generator; 'we will focus our efforts not just on quality outputs, but also on outcomes. To make this tangible, we will continue to develop our baseline data and performance measurement systems with our Non department public bodies ...' who know's what this means but it sounds like it might just get the job done.
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A number of different motifs and imagery is used in the document. The most bizarre and illuminating section is a two page spread with a series of childlike hand drawn representations of DCAL's strategies. At first the drawing (60 in total) appear to be the work of children, forced into a room for 12 hours, brainwashed and made to absorb DCAL's Corporate ideas. We have simplistic images of boats and trees, octopi and stick figures, scrawled texts such as 'sports grounds legislation' and 'Section 75'.
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This is a pretty sick thought, is this not exploitation of some sort? I suspect, just suspect on closer analysis, the truth is much more disturbing. The first hint's are given when we read a poem written in what appears to be a more mature hand;
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'We were all invited to W5 the drumming started and we came alive the secretary spoke of the corporate plan and DCAL vision in culture can, others spoke of olympic inspiration, and how they where working on fish conservation...'
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Surely no child could be empassioned to write such poetry. I suspect, just suspect an adult may have written it and this like the other images and texts in the document are being passed off as the work of children in a faux -niave style. (perhaps the drawing skills of the department are not the strongest). So what we do we have? Some examples: The word Museum is amusingly depicted inside a drawing of a coffin. We have a plane in the sky, on the side is scrawled 'On Eagles Wing', the wing of the plan is broken off, people appear to be falling to the ground. ('On Eagles wing' is the Ulster Scots play which recently lost all its funding touring America).
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We have a boat marked PRONI (Public Records office of Northern Ireland), its trawling the sea with a net marked 'caught in a trap'. A series of fish float beneath the surface, depicting different Government departmants, they are labelled; file plan, NIRMS, DPA, Government registry and so on. There's a suggestion then that PRONI need to be avoided at all costs.
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The images seem to represent a deep unease in the department at the work they carry out. A poignant and moving text tucked away on the page seems to sum it all up. An individual called 'Colin' has written (in a desperate hand): 'What does this all mean, how does it all fit together, i need inspiration'. Another text reads (partly obscured):
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'We're all from different parts of DCAL, ministers office, museums and lottery, we're learnt a lot about the corporate plan but we have plunged into creative misery so here is our departments Christmas tree'
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Curious then to have a document that celebrates the activities and strategies of a department and at the same time undermines it through the writing and drawings of its staff.
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