Documenting a month or so in New York City exploring, meeting people, starting conversations, making some new work and generally having a little bit of a think about what my practice is and where it’s going.

Part of a programme of professional development activities supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England


[This post was really written on the 6th of August, but posting to an unpublished blog apparently sets up a new blog; reposting here to keep everything all in the same place…]

I did an almost complete U-turn with my accommodation choice yesterday after seeing a listing for a studio apartment that just felt right. Unfortunatey, this turned out to not be available, and I’ve ended up playing apartment roulette with an unseen unit in the same building…

I’ve reached the stage where I just want it sorted though, so I’m happy with that. It’s a cheaper property (walk-up town house cf luxurious with gym and doorman) but I’ve had to* add a few extra days onto the beginning of my trip, so – barring any tax surprises – it’s all coming in almost exactly on budget!

I’m just waiting for the letting agent’s bank details now so I can tranfer the money and then that’s done. Doing the research for the transfer has got me thinking again about how much money gets lost with exchange rates etc etc.

I always give myself cautious estimates of flights in my budget and also a 10% contingency on the total project amount, but I’m starting to think I should maybe also add a budget line for naff exchange rates too. Will keep pondering that one…

I also bought my flight tickets: direct from Heathrow, so I’ll need to get down there from Birmingham, but I can deal with that later…

With this first purchase the project’s now become real. Well, nearly – roll on Monday when I can send the accommodation money (about 70% of the project’s budget!) then I can relax a bit.

* oh go on then; twist my arm…


Completely didn’t get the accommodation sorted on Monday as hoped – at the last minute the owners changed their mind about the start date and demanded I started the lease a day earlier, even though I’d already bough my start date forward by 4 days to suit them. Grrr!

After two days of emails going backwards and forwards and a teasing glimpse of an alternative apartment, I’m now conceding and paying the extra day, even though I can’t use it.

Guest Agreement printed, amended, signed, scanned and emailed back. Waiting for payment details again.

Meanwhile I’ve also had the necessary conversations with my managers at my part-time job, so this blog is now published and public! Hello!


From the grant-writing process I have the basic framework of my trip in place – I have a handful of contacts in NYC and I have some key places/events I want to go to. These are: ITP at the Tisch School for the Arts, NYU; Eyebeam; Come Out and Play; NYC Resistor; Maker Faire; and Talk to Me.

The original plan was to go out for two weeks, but I’ve since found out that I can rent an apartment for a month for the equivalent amount of money, so I’m going to do that instead. The one catch being that it’s really late notice and most places are now unavailable for September!

After 5 days of googling, emailing and cross-referencing, it does seem that I have found somewhere and I’ve now initiated things with the agents to get that all confirmed.

Although it works out significantly cheaper per night, a lot of money is needed up-front for deposit, rent and various fees. My first payment from Arts Council is not due until the first of September and my assessing officer is on annual leave for a week, so I’ve had to appeal to The Bank of Mum to borrow enough to cover those initial outlays. Thanks Mum!

Other preparation I’ve managed to squeeze in so far includes letting people know I got the grant, asking for tips and advice from people who have been to the US before, finding out about the Visa Waiver Programme, finding my passport and getting a Rough Guide out of my local library. Really though it’s all been about the accommodation – if I can’t get that sorted then I will need to postpone the project.

Tonight I’m going to tackle some of the forms I’ve been sent by the letting agents. In separated by a common language style this has so far been an exercise in squeezing my round address into square holes and trying to remember that today is 08/03/2011 not 03/08/2011.


Hmmm. Came to the a-n website to sort out renewing my subscription and seem to have accidentally started a blog as well…

Here’s the situation:

I applied to the Arts Council for Grants for the Arts funding and found out 5 days ago that I had been successful.

The funding is for a programme of activities designed to work on my professional development – in particular contextualising my practice and meeting peers. Part one is a trip to New York City that should ideally happen in mid September. That’s a little over a month from now.

I have 6 weeks in which to get everything in place and finalise the core details, then I’m on the plane.

I have 1 week in which to make the decision as to whether this is feasible or whether to push the date of my trip back.

That 1 week deadline is largely related to how much notice I have if I’m to quit my part time job. They don’t know about this trip yet so although I’ll be blogging as from now, I won’t be hitting the publish button until all that’s sorted out. And I’m not going to broach the subject with them until I know the trip is definitley going ahead…

…Let’s see what happens…