I have had a fantastic response to my request for mentoring from 4 South West curators and arts organisations, funded by this brilliant a-n bursary offer. I am looking forward to receiving their support at an exciting time when I am co-launching a new artists’ initiative and securing funding for our next activities.
We have received reply from Arts Council – our Grants for the Arts application is successful and we have been funded for a 12-month Smooth Space Artist’s Residency at Torre Abbey, Torquay plus an associated programme of 12 Artist’s Conversations to take place monthly around the Bay.
– can’t quite believe it yet –
Am certain the success of this application is because of guidance and support from professional development advice received through the Re:view bursary and that Smooth Space received from Lucy Drane/Alias.
Thank you a-n
Recently had the 2nd Smooth Space AGM (in the evening at Brixham Town Hall. The after-hours entrance is tucked away near the harbour among the tiny alleyways surrounding All Saints Church whose bells tolled out ‘Abide With Me’, on the hour, as the setting sun poured through the windows). At the end of the financial report our Treasurer remarked that Smooth Space annual accounts reflect thinking and developing time – plus large amounts of volunteer input – and little financial activity. We have put hours and hours into setting up project, attending meetings and writing applications – all unpaid/self-funded – which is the way of project-based initiatives – great to hear efforts acknowledged and minuted.
Passed on the news to Torbay Council and to Operations and Development Manager, Torre Abbey. Feeling Celebratory. Torre Abbey responded immediately with a proposal to meet. We have a well-paced discussion with Operations Manager, Curator, Education Officer and Head Gardener, talk through contracts and insurance, share a rough timeline with key events which will update as project planning develops, arranged an introduction meeting with House Assistants and agreed a launch event.
Intense time working on Grants for the Arts application. We had stalled for a while, waiting to hear Torre Abbey’s response and are now rushing to submit to keep to a self-imposed deadline which gives a coherent timeline to the 12-month residency.
(and we have had a massive learning-curve-moment with in-retrospect advice from Smooth Space Chair about how best to structure dialogue with Museum (and for future project-building): we made too much of our need for speed and could have used different language in phone calls/emails which would have enabled similar results without adding unnecessary pressure to communication. We could also have allowed more time for dialogue/planning stage – a more realistic expectation of how long it would take to put the project together from the initial approach to Torbay Council to final approval for draft funding applications).
When fully completed draft version put together (very rough around the edges) we contact Lucy Drane (from Alias, who has given professional development advice to Smooth Space). Sense of urgency also spills over into this dialogue – at our diagnostic meeting with Lucy a few months ago she offered support for writing of GftA application. We are very close to our ‘submission deadline’ but Lucy sends a fantastic response, saying she can read through our draft and give us detailed feedback.
Couple more things that have helped with writing application…
was invited to attend AIR: Artists Interaction and Representation Paying Artists Consultation in Bristol at Motorcade/Flashparade in Oct ’13. Good, thoughtful and focused afternoon, and . Invitation from AIR said, “This consultation will be a formal opportunity to discuss issues arising from this research and the in-depth interviews with galleries and artists. We need your contribution to help shape a successful advocacy and campaign that all artists will feel part of and be active in.” Heard many stories that afternoon of past experiences of (sometimes shockingly) bad practice by organisations, galleries, in their approach to
Tense couple of weeks and then confirmation from Torre Abbey of their support in principal for the proposed Smooth Space Torre Abbey residency.
Meetings set up with Education Officer and Collections & Exhibitions Curator – we will be writing a funding proposal for an ACE GftA, plus looking for ways to match-fund – and can now talk through fine details of proposed residency.
Sitting in Torre Abbey’s Tea Rooms, gazing through the windows and out across the former meadows to the wide sweep of the Bay.
We have an 11am meeting with the Service Lead (Theatre, Museums and Arts) and the Operations and Development Manager.
We are here to introduce ourselves and our proposal for a partnership project with Torre Abbey who we are asking to host a 12-month Smooth Space artist’s residency.
We are made very welcome. The cafe setting feels informal, which is a relief as we are nervous – unsure how the Service Lead and the Manager – head of Torre Abbey and his deputy – will respond to this proposed project. We have had full support to go ahead from Torbay Council, but we now need to convince Torre Abbey – without their goodwill and full commitment the project will stall.
We are asked a lot of questions – what do we mean by ‘residency’? will we be moving in? how big is the project budget? what kind of art will we produce?
So we talk about the kind of support we hope to have from this proposed partnership (visiting access, conversations with staff, volunteers and visitors etc) and that we will be bringing all the funding. We also spend time showing a couple of examples of past projects – non-permanent works (moving image and audio installations).
The meeting draws to a close, but Lead and Manager suggest we stay as long as we like – take a tour around. Torre Abbey is still closed to public for winter – so our visit is an exclusive private event.
We shake hands and are assured that Torre Abbey will let us know whether they feel able to commit to the residency within the next couple of weeks.
Early afternoon meeting with the Executive Head of Residents and Visitor Services and the Service Manager (Town Services) Torbay Council.
a bit of atmosphere-building… we worked most of yesterday drafting and rehearsing our pitch. In the early hours we were woken up by our youngest who had been very sick over himself, his bed, his cuddly blanket. We blearily cleared up as best we could, settled him down and he was sick again. And again, and again. At about 4.30am my Smooth Space partner said, “you go and get some sleep, I’ll stay here. We can’t cancel tomorrow – and one of us needs to be semi-functional”….
Torbay Council occupies the fabulous Town Hall building in Torquay built with money donated by Andrew Carnegie. The architect was George Soudon Bridgman, a descendent of an old Torbay family. The building stone comes from local quarries at Barton, Beer, Ipplepen and Ashburton and the interior is lavishly decorated with local marble. I have often used the adjoining library (also part of the Carnegie bequest) but have never been inside the municiple offices. Find I’m having mixed and blurry responses. In retrospect I think my ambivalence for this splendid Edwardian legacy is its heritage which ties it to a culture where investment in community was only achieved through philanthropy, especially as I’ve just been reading about the current Council budget. Torbay is ordered by Central Government to make a further £3 million cut in 2014 that will wipe out Adult Social Care (that’s 3 banker’s bonuses, folks) on top of recent cuts that have already totalled more than £22 million.
In meeting with Service Manager and Head of Residents & Visitor Services, in the silence after introductions and apologies. So I launch in – want to keep what I say straightforward, clear. We have outlined our proposal in a document sent before this meeting was agreed – no reason to describe what we would like to do all over again so I ask and answer – why Smooth Space, why Torre Abbey, why a 12-month residency? Takes less than 5 mins. Then the Head of R & VS replies. She begins to outline all the events that will be taking place at Torre Abbey over the next 12 months, telling me when they will happen and who’s involved. I’m assuming that the implication is that Torre Abbey has a full diary and would struggle to take on another commitment. But the Head of R&VS continues and is now considering our proposed timeline, showing how it slots quite neatly into existing events calender and then she and Service Manager have a lively discussion about who I should approach at Torre Abbey and who they will be contacting on our behalf to make introductions. A further 20 minutes and the Service Manager has helped me find my way back through the complicated route to the exit and is shaking my hand goodbye, reassuring me that he’ll be in contact with Torre Abbey as soon as possible.