I thought perhaps we had a 60/40 chance in our favour but it seems not. Our ACE bid was rejected. We have no funds to continue our project.
Problem is, well, we’ve started; we’ve run two workshops and been on two outdoor expeditions to capture the basis of our piece. We have the material but we have no funds to finish it. We have venues to show the piece…but we have no financial support.
Like many an unlucky contestant we face the wall. Do we jack it in or do we continue despite our project not being supported? There are a couple of things here. One, the expectation of our participants and, two, the sheer unfathomability of why such a project wouldn’t get ACE support. I have to admit to a feeling of injustice but I’m aware all unlucky contestants must feel that way. And yes, I do feel like we were taking part in some random game show.
With no other options available, we are doing what we always knew we would do; we will make the piece anyway…I just won’t get paid for doing it. Thus far I’ve used all my own gear to film with and forgone any such luxury as an assistant or hiring equipment that would have enhanced the production values. We have cut back the scope of the project in terms of amount of workshops, and yet it still seems like there is an imperative to carry on. With no budget it means I need to continue the day job and work nights and weekends. I have a mortgage… it’s that or tell our participants the deal is off.
What I feel let down about is not only the lack of financial support overall, but that the concept – that we allow the participants to have a voice of their own without pre-empting the outcome – was not seen as sufficiently compelling. It’s how I work – I let people tell their stories, taking that as my raw material. The process is such that I can’t tick a box to tell you what the end result will be. It’s just disappointing that ACE didn’t seem to get that.
We did of course go back to the Great Exhibition people with our Tiny Tim act…but the cupboard was bare. The dog ate my budget. We plough on… art on the cheap, seemingly unviable and yet still potentially part of the greatest cultural spectacle to have been planned here since we discovered what steam can do. Oh the irony.
Just to round off this sad little episode, we put the PR wheels into motion. Disability North used their contacts to get us some exposure. One last gasp appeal to the business community. We posed for piccies. We await our sad gazes being published in the evening chronicle. I am not holding my breath.
Thus far I haven’t given over much time to describe the actual project. In some ways, the piece always had a small ‘p’ political element to it. For me that has been heightened by its lack of support, making it even more important that we do justice to the idea. Issues of what it means to be a person with a disability, and how society values those so often marginalised, provided the impetus for this piece. Our reflections on the process thus far will no doubt form part of this ongoing debate once the piece is out there.
Next post I promise will be more positive!