Make A Scene

As a kid I became a little obsessed with guitar bands who looked a lot like lost lumberjacks. You know the look, torn jeans, plaid shirts and greasy hair.

It was the early 90s and rock was boring. It was pompous, glamorous and all about showing off. Then came Bruce Pavitt.

Bruce Pavitt turned my world upside down! I was a 14 year old, living in a provincial British town, listening to Van Halen when a friend of mine gave me a pirated cassette. I pushed it into my Walkman and Smells Like Teen Spirit blew my mind. I was listening as Kurt Cobain, Krist Noveselic and Dave Grohl were saving Rock music. So, who’s Bruce Pavitt? I had never heard of him.

Bruce wasn’t in Nirvana. He ran their first record label, Sub Pop.

When you’re a music nerd you find out your favourite bands’ record labels and then you listen to their label mates. This involved no algorithms or Spotify playlists, I had to work it out for myself. I would also read the NME (in its pre-internet guise) cover to cover and discovered that before Nirvana went global they were signed to Sub Pop records and came from Seattle. All of this research introduced me to Green River (who became Pearl Jam), Mother Love Bone, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, The Screaming Trees, Alice in Chains etc etc.

Bruce Pavitt had changed my life. Bruce is a scene maker.

Let me explain further.

I now live in Manchester. Manchester is a brilliant and beautiful city with a long history of creativity, social dissent and partying, often all in the same evening.

In the late 1970s Tony Wilson started Factory Records and then in the 1980s he opened the Hacienda. Out of this came Joy Division, New Order and the Happy Mondays (not to mention dozens of other bands, DJs, designers and hangers on).

Tony Wilson is a scene maker. He wasn’t the only one in Manchester but he seemed to have a unique ability to get creative people together and provide a context for them to produce their best work.

These people are rare. They love art, and they may in fact be very creative, but fundamentally they create space for other artists to flourish. Both Bruce Pavitt and Tony Wilson could spot talent, motivate talent and promote talent. These entrepreneurs had the skills required to connect people, find spaces, and find money (and to spend that money).

Calling them entrepreneurs doesn’t quite cover what Bruce and Tony did. Some entrepreneurs can start their own business and become a successful one-person organisation. They create a product and sell the product but ultimately it goes no further as the whole thing spins around them. However, some entrepreneurs can start something that brings other people’s talents in, develops and uses that talent and then provides a space for them to go in different directions.

They create a scene.

Someone has a dream but it’s highly collaborative.

Art needs a scene. Ideas need bouncing around. Creative people need community.

I believe that faith has a part to play here. God is a creative and he loves it when we get creative. When we do, the spark of eternity can be seen.

Christians can be scene makers. It ticks all our boxes. To be a scene maker you need to be able to imagine a better future, to encourage others in what they do, to help them to do better, to build community, to be generous and to be on the lookout for new additions.

Make a scene.

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