It’s hard to bounce back from rejection and keep going. Life and art practice is inevitably crap at times and coping strategies for the lows are helpful. I’ve been reflecting about this and think this is one of the many reasons that I love collaborating on curatorial projects: the mutual support of co-curators and buoyancy of ideas. Positivity and creativity is infectious.
We had a meeting this week which was really a wellbeing check. Not ‘just’ a wellbeing check and it was not scheduled to be that – it was what was necessary. We then had a load of ideas that we could do with more time/money/energy. We would love to do studio visits and audio record conversations about art and mental wellbeing. A brew and a chat. See what our peers are up to with their practice and capture their thoughts about mental wellbeing. It could be a pub chat over a pint and a game of consequences too. At this stage we’re not going to put an open call out but if you’re local to us (Huddersfield) and fancy a coffee/pint and chat let us know.
I also had a debrief from Welland Festival this week. I ran a Button It workshop for this year’s and Dwell Time wasn’t directly involved but in the debrief I mentioned Dwell Time to a few people and there’s potential for some really interesting collaborations.
I’ve also been reflecting how dependent I’d become on facebook for my main tool of communication with the art world and local scene since having kids. Facebook has recently changed it’s algorithm and it’s become harder to reach people with events and open calls unless you pay for advertising which is apparently not great either. I went to two workshops aimed at ‘creative businesses’ and they confirmed my suspicions that it’s basically no good unless you invest literally hours a day. Having started to get out the house a bit more and talk to people face to face, I re-realised how critical it is for art practice to be out there chatting to people. I used to go to previews all the time but kids put a halt to that. My world shrank. Now they are 5 and 3, I’m starting to get back out there and remembering why it’s so important to talk to people.
Today I was doing some errands in Huddersfield and on the high street some ‘chuggers’ (charity muggers – people who approach you on the street for charity donations) were out in force. I hate this practice and generally ignore them but today they were from the Mental Health Foundation so I stopped for a chat. I told them all about Dwell Time and gave them some flyers (is that a kind of reverse chugging?). It was a really interesting chat about fundraising, mental health and ‘life journeys’ for want of a better phrase – serendipity is a good word.
Then I took the kids to a family fun day fundrasising event my friend had organised – Andy’s Man Club were there with a stall so we had a chat too. We’d previously been in touch via email about potential collaboration but to have a face to face chat – albeit impromptu and with two kids swinging off my arms, literally – was much more useful. Their strapline/hashtag is #itsoktotalk and indeed it is. It’s really good to talk.
I remembered why I don’t usually apply for arts funding: it’s far too stressful.
Last time I wrote a funding application was when Contents May Vary did a group show called Under Maintenance at Manchester Victoria Baths in 2007. We got an Arts Council application form and wrote the 500 words we thought was the full thing and then found out with 24 hours until the funding closed that that was just the project introduction. Oh we laughed. I stayed up most of the night writing that application, talking over messenger to two of the collective until nothing made sense anymore and then we submitted it. We got the grant.
But it was a huge amount of work for very little money. As I started collaborating with other artists on other gallery projects, exhibitions and project spaces, we would discuss applying for grants and decide it wasn’t actually worth the time. We did everything on a shoestring and self-funded where necessary. It’s not an ideal funding model but when you only have a 40% chance of getting an Arts Council grant under £15k, is it worth the time writing applications when you can invest that time in the project?
Anyway, Dwell Time needs funds to print the physical copy of the paper at the very least so we applied for £1k from one funder with the intent to match-fund from another. We had the meetings and read the guidance, configured the budgets and I wrote the application – the writing wasn’t too arduous in itself actually. I’ve written countless applications, just only one grant funding application before.
The funders said yes they would like to fund Dwell Time! Brilliant! They called it a ‘valuable piece of work’. Of course we were delighted. Only our partner organisation had also applied to that funder for another project, unbeknownst to us, and there is a maximum amount the funders can award any one organisation. Our partner organisation did not want to give over any cash to Dwell Time. Money in the sector is tight, they couldn’t afford it. So we had been awarded the money, but we couldn’t have it. There’s no blame to be apportioned – we think our partner organisation is great – but such are the pitfalls with partnership working and sector funding which had another 40% cut this year. In an ideal world both projects would be funded.
The funders said please apply next year, we value your project. So we will do that and either come up with another way to fund a print run next year as planned, or delay printing until 2020. There are other funders we could approach, and we will have to set up as a CIC and constituted group for next year which is yet another drain on time and energy. Another partner organisation has also offered us paid work (we nearly fell off our chairs when that happened!) and we can use that as project cash and match funding too. It’s not all doom and gloom but all of this takes it’s toll on mental wellbeing.
I set up a facebook event for the open call yesterday and when searching for it again later found a page for a film called Dwell Time. I watched the trailer and got in touch with the film director Anak Rabanal suggesting we have a film screening here in the UK. She seems keen! So that’s very exciting. We’re planning an event for World Mental Health Day on 10th October so could tie in a film screening and discussion with that event, or set up another special event. Here is Anak talking about her film for the indiegogo campaign previously run for the film. As shown in the film dwell time is also a military term: In the military, dwell time is the amount of time that service members spend in their home station between deployments to war zones. Dwell time is designed to allow service members a mental and physical break from combat and to give them time with their families. It is an important component of long term military readiness.
I also found that Time For Change has some handy guidelines for blogging about self-harm, suicide, and eating disorders which we will be good to follow as best practice to help safeguard anyone reading our blog and newspaper.
We have also just sent off our first funding application! Fingers crossed!! Our second application for match funding will be going in shortly too.
We’re delighted that Dwell Time has been selected for this year’s Hannah Directory.
Hannah Directory is a print publication, website and launch week of events celebrating the great stuff that people are doing in places in England’s north, and asking how even more of it can happen.
Founded in 2013, the directory takes a snapshot capturing some of the year’s best activity in the arts, music, business, new kinds of social organisation, scientific discovery and great stuff from any field. It is named after and inspired by Hannah Mitchell (1872–1956), a suffragette and rebel who tried to create ‘beauty in civic life’ in her work on public libraries, parks and gardens.
The sixth annual edition of Hannah Directory launches on Monday 4 June 2018.
This week I’ve been compiling a list of local/UK mental health support services and charities that now feature on our blog and will form a directory in the newspaper.
One of the risks of raising awareness about mental health and publishing content that speaks about mental health is it could potentially trigger someone so we want to be able to signpost to relevant support services.
This is not by any means an exhaustive list and feel free to suggest any more:
Andy’s Man Club http://andysmanclub.co.uk
Anxiety UK http://www.anxietyuk.org.uk
Bipolar UK https://www.bipolaruk.org
Campaign Against Living Miserably https://www.thecalmzone.net
Get Connected http://hatw.co.uk/helpline/get-connected
Heads Together https://www.headstogether.org.uk
HOOT Creative Arts https://www.hootcreativearts.co.uk
Men’s Shed https://menssheds.org.uk
Mental Health First Aid England https://mhfaengland.org
Mental Health Foundation http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk
National Suicide Prevention Alliance http://www.nspa.org.uk
NHS Choices Mental Health Services https://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/AboutNHSservices/mental-health-services-explained/Pages/accessing%20services.aspx
No Panic https://www.nopanic.org.uk
OCD UK http://www.ocduk.org
Prevention of Young Suicide https://www.papyrus-uk.org
PTSD UK http://www.ptsduk.org
Rethink Mental Illness https://www.rethink.org
S2R Create Space https://www.s2r.org.uk
Scottish Association for Mental Health https://www.samh.org.uk
Support Line: Mental Health http://www.supportline.org.uk/problems/mental_health.php
Young Minds https://youngminds.org.uk