I’m now finalising my report on my bursary activity – and it feels quite lop-sided. There are some really positive results and achievements, and some disappointing dead-ends. The positive side is definitely the work of bringing together practitioners involved in (making, producing, promoting, researching) live work for small audiences. These gatherings have felt necessary and productive, and have given me a lot of useful input as well as forming a base for future development (including some very concrete proposals). I’ve been energised and re-enthused by these meetings, and feel like they’ve built my confidence in my ability to facilitate collaboration and sharing.
The more disappointing side is the work to find new contexts for my own practice. I’ve felt much less confident in this part of the project, and although the support of producer Andrew Mitchelson, who made many of the initial contacts and helpful suggestions on how to approach this process, I realise it would also have been helpful to have a mentor to discuss it with, at least initially. I’ve had helpful meetings with a few people, but still feel I haven’t been able to make the case for taking small-audience work beyond the context of festivals and regular live art venues. Although it’s frustrating to feel I haven’t got as far with this part of the project as I’d have liked, I am seeing it as useful research that I can build on.
I would like to continue the work of both parts of the project as it feels like there is more work to be done on both. The initial plan to follow up the gatherings is for at least an email network of practitioners with an interest in small-audience work. We all recognised that we would need proper resources (time and money) to do more than this, though there is much more we could do.
With regard to widening contexts for my practice, I will be following up the helpful suggestions made in my meetings with Paul Hobson (Modern Art Oxford), Sam Trotman (Scottish Sculpture Workshop) and Lawrence Sillars (Henry Moore Institute) – hopefully finding people to write about my work, and finding residencies where I can build relationships. I will reflect on how the process of approaching curators and programmers went and, as and when time allows, how I might follow up the work that Andrew and I did on making contacts.
I’m hugely grateful for the opportunity to reflect this year on where my own practice is and how to take it forward for myself, as well as looking at the wider context of what definitely feels like a practice/sector that is not well supported. It has felt in some ways like a research period that inevitably opens up many more questions but also offers clear pointers for where I/we might go.