EARNING a few extra bob doing a Saturday sub-editing shift on the Scotland section of The Observer, back in the day when The Herald was part of the same stable, it fell to me to deal with a story about an Anti-Poll Tax campaign event in Glasgow’s West End where the main attraction was industrial noise musical combo Test Dept.

The headline I came up with, Non-Payment Means Test, was stupidly opaque, but it ran in the paper, for the comedy value if nothing else, and I recall it did amuse Angus Farquhar, then still a member of the group before becoming the artistic director of NVA, which announced that it was winding up this week.

For the following 20 years I must have seen almost everything Test Dept-then-NVA produced, and that often meant a bit of a trek. After animating Glasgow’s old St Rollox Engine Works in Second Coming, installing Elvis and some tantric sex in Tramway for Sabotage, and making the remaining shipbuilding cranes on the Clyde dance to his tune in Stormy Waters, Farquhar and his associates ventured beyond the city.

The Secret Sign at Finnich Glen by Drymen was crucially inaccessible but not far, The Path in Glen Lyon included a shuttle bus from Aberfeldy in Perthshire and a decent stroll to visit all the exhibits, and a jaunt to The Storr on Skye was a 13th birthday treat for my son, although other people were there too. On the inclement night we saw that show, not many folk knew that the naked male dancer in the distance was not Alex Rigg, as billed, but the director himself, stepping in to deputise at the last minute.

There is some sort of sad irony in the fact that NVA has foundered in the ambition to find a sustainable purpose for the modernist architectural ruin that is St Peter’s Seminary at Cardross, when it was itself something of a modern model of adaptable sustainability in the arts.

Although many of my fellow cultural commentators have been swift to reach for the big stick with which they beat Creative Scotland, it is my suspicion that the full story is rather more complex than simply being a consequence of the quango’s recent funding decision, although that can hardly have helped much.

Fortunately there were other stories around this week demonstrating that sustainability in the arts in still an attainable goal. On Sunday the Scottish Jazz Awards were announced at St Luke’s in Glasgow’s east end and young performers including Luca Manning, Fergus McCreadie and Alan Benzie won a generous share of the prizes. The show was, however, comprehensively stolen by singer Fionna Duncan, highly-deserving recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. I now know her as very influential teacher, but first recall seeing Fionna singing with the traditional jazz bands my father loved and took me to hear, led by people like George Penman, who lived across the road from us, and trumpeter Alex Dalgleish, who taught the awards’ special guest on Sunday, Ryan Quigley.

As a teenager I started to wonder what had happened to jazz since the New Orleans and Dixieland sound that the British trad-revival musicians stuck pretty close to, and that led me to Springhall Library and a Prestige album by The New Miles Davis Quintet, with a young John Coltrane, which had come out in the mid-1950s but fair turned my head a little less than twenty years later.

The first track on side two was a particular favourite – a version of Paul Denniker and Andy Razaf’s S’Posin. Taking the stand alongside the house trio of Brian Kellock, Mario Caribe and Alyn Cosker, with Quigley as her foil, Duncan called that very tune when she took the stage after receiving her award. A performance to add to my personal cache of sustainable arts memories, that was.