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Welfare State International

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 11 months ago

Welfare State International


John Fox writes, "Welfare State International was started in 1968 by a tribe of artists, poets, musicians, pyrotechnicians and engineers: wayward dreamers in search of “entertainment, an alternative and a way of life”. Guardians of the unpredictable, trucking around the world creating site-specific celebratory theatre for festivals.... We were looking for a culture where more people could actively participate and gain the power to celebrate moments that are wonderful and significant: moments such as building their own houses, naming children, burying the dead, announcing partnerships, marking anniversaries, creating new sacred spaces and producing whatever theatre, music and jokes are useful in an evolving world society...."


For thirty-eight years the company designed and constructed festivals of celebration that reached a wide audience, collaborative exhibitions and installations, original songs and soundscapes, and ceremonies for important occasions in people's lives. They built Lanternhouse, a £2.2m Lottery funded centre for training celebratory artists and creating meditative sculptural installations and performances.



On 1 April 2006 Welfare State International came to an end. Fed up with institutions, even his own, John Fox stepped down as Artistic Director and has departed on a new journey as a solo artist. He muses, "We joined to make spontaneous playful art outside the ghetto – not to work three years ahead in a goal-orientated corporate institution where matched funding and value-added output tick-boxes destroy imaginative excess." He reflects on how the dominant

culture "claimed economic regeneration in the wake of celebratory theatre but

did not understand the inspiration of art in community or its role of replenishing

the soul."



The name Welfare State International has been archived and a physical archive is being created within the Theatre Collection at Bristol University.

http://www.welfare-state.org/homepage.htm. Lanternhouse continues with a new creative team.


Paula Jardine is a Victoria-based artist deeply influenced by John Fox and Welfare State International.

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