One thing in particular from TG’s site: the question about whether Greenbelt is a TAZ or not. In the book I use it as an example of one, based on the Hakim Bey’s definition of it as:
an uprising which does not engage directly with the State, a guerrilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself to re-form elsewhere/elsewhen. […] It envisions an intensification of everyday life, or as the Surrealists might have said, life’s penetration by the Marvellous.
TG and others have questioned whether Greenbelt can be a TAZ because it has some background organisational structure, and is sponsored. I can see potential issues here with the purest idea of TAZ – which is based in anarchist thought – but I don’t have a problem with calling Greenbelt a TAZ. Having worked closely with the festival for a number of years I’m aware that what the organisational/institutional element does is to create spaces within which people can make carnival in the ways that they see fit – within reason of course. So the TAZ element of Greenbelt is not so much located in the formal programming, but in the sub-festivals that go on under the radar of this programming.
There’s a paradox here: you don’t get the sub-festivals without some formal programme structure to bring people to the event; but nor is the formal programme irrelevant once there – it feeds the sub-festivals that are going on. It’s the classic problem of large-scale meetings: the ‘good stuff’ happens outside and beyond the programme – but it cannot itself be programmed so that it’s all ‘good stuff.’
One area I do strongly disagree with TG though, and that’s the extent of Greenbelt’s independence from those who sponsor it. She says:
Another issue Brewin does not address is that Greenbelt is institutional and has always been so, because of its funding. […] The funding for such projects means that Greenbelt is not/ cannot be a space for resistance in the way that TAZ’s are. The funding mechansims involved mean that Greenbelt is different on a structural level to TAZ spaces. There are much stronger and more obvious power relations involved and at play. Ultimately Greenbelt is working within the confines of what the institution will allow. I think the fact it is the Methodist Church which has become arecent major sponsor is significant. The Methodist Church through various conference resolutions includes within its policies affirming and supporting members of the LGBT community. Therefore, the debates around the alleged ”gayification” of GB are not problematic for this sponsor in the way they could have been for other potential sponsors. If no LGBT friendly sponsor could have been found I doubt that the festival would be taking the approach it has been to the issue.
I’m afraid that this is totally untrue. I’ve been a part of the (voluntary) talks team for some years now and there has never been any interference from sponsors about what they would find acceptable, nor have we ever felt pressure to only focus on certain areas because of funding issues. Never. Not once. The institutions that sponsor Greenbelt tend to be allowed a venue in which to programme their own talks etc., and some advertising space in the Festival Guide. But any suggestion that they influence what speakers can come or how Greenbelt deals with certain issues is totally unfounded.