Arts Emergency

Neil Griffiths

Top 50 Fundraiser and Co-founder of Arts Emergency

Josie came into my office with an idea for helping at least one student from Hackney Borough (where she lived) to go to university, study the arts, and come out without debt. She thought that was an important thing she wanted to do. We felt that rather than start up a kind of bursary for a limited number of people, we should be looking at the bigger picture and to aim to help as many people as possible in the most useful way we could. So we knocked the idea about for a couple of months, there was a really good kernel at the heart of it and we wanted it to be creative and unique. We both love Kurt Vonnegut as a writer, and I was reading his book Slapstick at the time; a short, surreal, sci-fi story set in post-apocalyptic America. Fundamentally it’s about a way of reconstituting society, a reconfiguration of the family. He regroups people into arbitrary families according to their middle names. I like that idea, I could see it applying to the kind of outcomes we wanted, and eventually we took this concept and turned it into our Alternative Old Boys’ Network (AOBN) which is central to Arts Emergency now.