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How many times have we heard “Pop by, it would be lovely to see you”? Probably almost as many as the “How are you?’ which is often said and frequently not meant as the greeter moves on to the next sentence without drawing breath or indeed waiting for the pat answer of “Fine, Yeah” or some such similar trite exchange. As far as I’m concerned if you don’t want to know or not going to wait for the answer then don’t ask. Or if you do ask then be prepared for me to stop you mid next sentence and begin to tell – honestly – regardless of how good I’m feeling or how sleep deprived I am due to the night terrors I’ve been having recently.

Good hosting starts with a firm invitation. ‘Come over at 4, we’ll have coffee and cake’.

I love the weather. No doubt about it. Even more than I love Lighthouses and Keanu Reeves. Imagine how excited I was when during one of my ‘under the bonnet’ sessions it was loosely dropped into the conversation that arrangements had been made for me to visit Kaleider who can introduce me to ‘someone in the met office’ and go there for a visit. But then I was told I’d have to wait 3 months or so for the relevant checks and arrangements to be made. You can’t just turn up at the met office and go in and wander round. It’s a government establishment. It’s top secret. I’m not even sure I should be telling you this.

Above images are Kaleider and Sad Keanu

In the intervening weeks there were introductory e-mails which progressed to introductory phone calls, tentative arrangements were firmed up. In one of those coincidences I was at Bluedot Festival with my new installation Between Stillness and Storm – an installation which turned out far different from the one I proposed due to my time at PMS – where next door to the site was the MET OFFICE doing out reach – Bluedot is a SCI-ART-Music Festival. In this meeting there was a reiteration of the invite.

Hosting is really important in my humble opinion and it starts before you enter the building. I turned up at Kaleider as arranged and Jocelyn came out her meeting and welcomed me. She took me into the meeting and introduced me to Katie, Peter and Seth – the directors  – I get a bit overwhelmed with new places and new people and all that social codification. We went upstairs to the communal space, a brief tour, another couple of introductions, a cup of tea.

Why am I writing about this? Well this is incredibly important and so many organisations get it wrong, or rather don’t get it right. They assume too much, they are comfortable, or complacent, they forget what it’s like to be in that position. It’s not rocket science, it doesn’t cost anything, it just simple human interaction which makes a massive difference about how you feel. It was a brief visit as I had a pre-arranged trip to the Met Office.

Passport in hand off I went.

Again, brilliant hosting. Met at the door, offered a drink, sat down, introduced each other and then off for the tour. More about the Met Office later.

Next day back at Kaleider I felt comfortable in the space because the hosting had been so good – and it continued to be so. Perhaps some of my positive experience was due to the pre-introduction or the brokering done between PMS and Kaleider – but that just shows how successful joined up thinking is.

Most, if not all, of my access needs are around the psychological rather than the physical. I really valued Kaleiders approach of wanting to be aware but not intrusive with regards to this. This was particularly so on the Wednesday when I walked into the communal workspace to a sea of faces. Jocelyn read the situation, could see my overwhelmedness and stepped in – but simultaneously checked in with me to see what I needed to manage the situation – so as not to take over. Deft.

Later that day I had a great conversation with Seth Honnor -Artistic Director – about first impressions, hosting and accessibility amongst other things. Accessibility and Inclusion isn’t a one size fits all -everyone is different with their own specific needs and are on a continuum.

What’s this got to do with Professional Development? Well for me, without this I couldn’t engage with professional development – I wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the bursary – the conditions to thrive would be absent. There are so many invisible barriers to negotiate even before I get to make work as an artist. So when organisations provide the conditions for me to thrive, to be able to make work, I really appreciate it.

As an aside I was really pleased to see this in the kitchen.

I realise how fortunate I am to be resident at PMS and who have relationships with organisations such as Kaleider which make it so enjoyable, so relatively easy to get on and be an artist without struggling against bureaucracy or ignorance or lack of flex which result in exhaustion and inability to create.