We are giving LADA all of our money: A statement from Charlotte Cooper, Simon Murphy and Kay Hyatt

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Categories: News, Writing

We are giving LADA all of our money after we die.

We are three middle-aged queers. Our lives in East London have intertwined for the past 20-30 years and will likely continue to do so. Sometimes we perform as The 123s, Homosexual Death Drive, or just as ourselves. We do other things too.

We are not Gettys, Rothschilds, Rockefellers or Guinnesses but we are unusual amongst our peers in that we are coming to the last few years of paying off the mortgages on our homes. By sheer luck we were born at a time when it was possible for proles like us to buy a modest place to live in London cheaply. That was in 2000, not so long ago, look how bad things have got and so quickly. We feel ambivalent about our luck, disgusted by landlords and property ladders, angry that housing, a basic need, is now a luxury, and furious that our city is being ruined. We don't want to die anytime soon but when we are gone we will leave a flat, a house and whatever savings and sundries we have to LADA. We hope that will be worth a lot.

Giving LADA all of our money was not hard to do. We talked about how the three of us might look after ourselves as we get older and what might happen to our money after we die. Then we went to a local solicitor, made wills and told LADA about it. It turned out to be a small bit of administration with some conversations and cups of tea.

We are giving LADA all of our money for a handful of reasons:

1. We love the weirdness of Live Art and respect how LADA works to foster it, the community surrounding the Agency and the resources it shares. We have been lucky to have witnessed and been inspired by electrifying performance and want to see much more. It's a life force! A reason for living! Encouragement! We are makers and do-ers ourselves, with decades of mostly DIY cultural work behind us through publishing, zines, performing, bands, dance, video, comics, whatever we turn our hands to. Our work is messy and strange, unassimilated, sprawling. Live Art gives us a framework in which we can be. This is part of who we are, it keeps us alive and we want to nurture it in others.

2. Getting your privates out on stage is no big deal any more, but talking about your own money remains scandalous. How much have you got? How do you spend it? Do you have more or less than me? Is your brilliant art career funded by The Bank of Mum and Dad? Did your private education or Oxbridge degree help you to become a performance artist? Was this show indirectly funded by your tenants? These questions always prompt surprising conversations in a context where unfair wages are business as usual, the rich live longer and better than the poor and inequality is sanctioned in policy. Who has money and where that money goes is political. We are talking about our money in public because we don't want to play along with the respectability, politeness and silence that enables privilege to cover its arse. We want to talk dirty.

3. We understand inheritance as a practice that contributes to social stratification: poor people who don't leave or inherit legacies remain poor over generations. That is what it was like for our families. But our parents benefitted from the post-war welfare state, and more open migration policy, and we also ended up better off. Nowadays being a migrant is difficult in ways our folks could not have envisaged, whilst health, education, housing, safety nets and opportunity for working class and marginalised people are being dismantled. Inheritance matters a lot. But we don't want to contribute to a system that benefits only a few, we want LADA to spread our unearned wealth around and ensure something powerful comes of it.

4. Most people who make a will leave their stuff to their families, and it is blood family that is the vector for inheritance. This is a hierarchy of intergenerational custodians of wealth who ensure the survival of the line. We have chosen not to have children, we're the end of the line and at the bottom of the pecking order. We want to encourage others, whether non-reproducing or parents, to act creatively and with radical intent around inheritance and lineage. No more dynasties. We also say good luck to anybody who has a loving family. But we know that family is not always a safe haven, a place where we are cherished, supported and understood (we occasionally re-read Karen Finley's Black Sheep Poem aloud to remind ourselves of this). We are in solidarity with anyone who has ever been dicked around by their nearest and dearest. We want our legacy to be as queer and feminist as we are, not to benefit the structures and systems of our oppression.

5. We would like to be remembered a bit.

It's weird leaving money, it's a promise for a future, not like we are handing over wads of cash right now. It may be that we face crises and have to sell up, or use our homes to pay for care, we are lucky to have that choice. But even then we anticipate that there will still be funds for LADA to use for projects, paying workers, keeping the beast afloat; it could support people on the margins, or anyone who proposes something great. We just hope that, one day, it will help make really fabulous work.

We encourage anybody reading this to think about what you might leave behind when you are gone. You can't take it with you, so why not give some or all of it to LADA? You don't have to be rich to leave money after you die, or harbour the same reasons for leaving money as us. We are surprised that more people don't do this. It's a bit of administration, but it's also fun, political, caring and creative, a treat for yourself, a good thing to do that makes you feel right with the world. You could make a show about it.

Charlotte Cooper
Simon Murphy
Kay Hyatt

February 2019

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Date Posted: 07 February 2019