It’s (not) that time of the year again … but it is Supermarket Independent Art Fair … well kind of! With the fair originally scheduled only a few weeks after the outbreak of the coronavirus in northern Europe it was obvious that it could not go ahead. What we have now is SUPERLOCAL – a fair presenting thirteen artist-run initiatives in Stockholm.
Superlocal opened yesterday and it was great meet up in person with the rest of the Supermarket team. They really are a fantastic, lovely and loving bunch of artists and curators who are truly passionate about the artist-run scene. Between the day’s programme of events, talks, performances and openings, and the evenings (corona adapted) party Alice, one of the three fair directors and the magazine editor, took time to ask me how my first proper day as the Meetings coordinator had been. It was somewhat tricky to answer as there has been very poor (virtually no) interest in the meetings programme from the participating initiatives – so my day was easy but not nice as I wondered what had gone wrong … and what to do about it.
After speaking briefly with Alice about the situation she was quick to reassure that I had the backing and support of the whole team – that was so nice to hear! It would be too easy for me to think that in taking over a usually successful programme that I had perhaps missed something vital. Chatting with Alice and others from the team who are well experienced in working with the fair I began to see that certain aspects were simply harder to reconfigure for our local version.
The next big question (for us) is what we plan for 2021. With the fair usually happening in April and evaluation shortly after, planning for the coming year is usually already underway by September. That schedule was redundant long ago. The challenge now is to plan for unknown! Is an international event viable in April 2021? Even if current travel restrictions and regulations are lifted will (often self funded) artists have the resources to participate? It is too early to tell but I an email that I received from an artist friend in London yesterday morning did little to reassure me that things will be ’back to normal’ in any time soon.
The friend in question had just had a phone conversation with the recently un-furloughed education officer at a major London arts institution. It was basically a ’thank you and goodbye’ call. My friend has been an artist/educator on various programmes at the gallery for over twenty years, however there are now no plans for education activities for the future – foreseeable or otherwise.
This afternoon I should be leading a meeting about what we (artists) have learnt during the pandemic. My friend’s situation reminds me that we can’t take anything for granted. This then begs the question can we turn this situation to our advantage. Or if not exactly to our advantage how can we make the best of the situation, what can make this an opportunity rather than a threat. Could we see a reinvigorated version of the 80s Enterprise Allowance scheme?
I am incredibly grateful for my half-time job with the council. I am now planning some outdoor art workshops for children in October – it is really nice to think that soon I will running real workshops again.