I feel inspired to get involved in education projects again. Last week I attended the enquire/envision seminar in Eastbourne. The discussions and presentations interested me, particularly the emphasis placed on contemporary art projects and the creative input of artists. It made me realise just how burnt out I got doing back to back workshops that moved further and further from my own practice. Things I need to remember:
• artists are vital partners
• demand equality of input
• be proactive
• look south
There were a few other artists there, most people were gallery educators, and it was good to have the opportunity to speak with them. Susan Diab’s presentation made some very relevant points about what an artist brings to a project and the need to be recognised for our breadth of skills and experience.
What we realised was that the artist (working on education projects) is often the only partner that isn’t part of an institution and while this level of autonomy is something we value highly it brings it’s own distinct challenges. Susan and I discussed setting up an artist’s network where we (artists) could keep in touch with other. This discussion led us to consider the possibility (and desirability) of an Artist’s Union.
It’s far too easy for artists to feel that they have no authority or support when dealing with organisations and institutions. A number of us shared stories of unsuccessfully trying to negotiate a-n’s suggested rates of pay with established galleries that real should be adopting them. Too often we concede, hoping that eventually we’ll be rewarded.
All the talk about CPD (continued professional development) was interesting but what constitutes an artist’s CPD? I found the idea of an accredited CPD course rather alarming, what is it with everything having to be accredited? To me it’s a response to ‘tick-box’ culture, rather than actually judging whether someone is capable of delivering a good project. I’d like to think that the projects themselves are a measure of my success, not whether I’ve attend sufficient modules and workshops. But then I remember a time when NVQ’s were given in recognition of achievement made in the work place, and not a short course at a local college.
The seminar was hosted by the (currently under construction) Towner Gallery. It was a privilege to get a tour of what will be an amazing new building. In the last few years the south coast has had some major developments and re-developments in terms of contemporary arts venues and the new Towner looks like being a great addition to the De La Warr and Aspex, and the emerging artistic communities in Hastings and Folkestone.
I realised that it would take me a comparable time to get to Eastbourne as it would to North London. Now that I’ve met some of the gallery educators and seen more of the area I know where I’d rather be working.