This past week has been about listening and taking snapshots of residencies popping up on social media. A good listen was Susan Jones lecture about artists pay since the 90s up until today and it seems that back then it was a golden age (http://www.collaborativeresearchgroup.co.uk/index.php/projects/work-and-art-symposium/). For example Susan goes on to say that a month residency would have been paid then at £3, 300 compared to that now of little pay even in some cases with artists having to pay as part of the application process. Susan talks in detail about the policies and changes in political parties that have impacted on arts funding to where we are today with artists all too often not being paid. Please have a listen to this to get an understanding of the drastic cuts in the arts. I have to admit in the past I have worked for free although after taking part in the paying artists research group co-led by Susan it really got me thinking about how by doing this I am the one missing out with the arts organisations or producers of events getting the pay.
Since gaining more knowledge around artist pay it was one of the reasons why I wanted to develop a bigger project for myself and for other artists. It also shows that if we share information about the arts ecology it gives the artist a fairer way to negotiate their practice. There comes a time that if your not happy with the system you have to try and change it and I feel artist led initiatives are the best way of seeing more of what the artist needs rather than top down from organisations. Another development within artist’s residencies Susan touches on is how in the past they where for the artist to do their own work however now they are expected to provide a service. A new area of her research is the artist’s portfolio and I don’t mean physical pieces of artwork in a black slightly bent folder but the many jobs they undertake to maintain a practice. I myself have juggled multiple jobs from working part-time in retail for many years, facilitating workshops, residencies, micro commissions and now being a mum. Fortunately with getting my Arts Council funding for We Are Resident it has taken a little bit of pressure off me, however it still isn’t enough in the long term to meet monthly basic needs.
Social media residency snapshots in September:
South London graduate 6-month residency
Fee – £5000 includes materials and living costs
Travel – None
Accommodation – free
Expectations- New body of work + exhibition. Specifically for UK or EU graduate.
air space 2-week residency – Winter Festival
Fee – £500
Materials + Travel- £250
Accommodation – free
Expectations – Respond to a specific theme. Live in the West Midlands.
East Street Arts –Velo café 10-day residency
Fee – £2100 to include materials, travel + accommodation
Expectations – Respond to a specific theme. Deliver an event.
Open call: 7 day Laboratory for Finnish + Flemish circus artists
Fee – None
Accommodation – free
Travel – free
Sustenance – free
Expectations – Respond to a specific theme. Artists are Finnish or Flemish.
Firestation curator residency awards – 1 week – 1 month
Fee – None
Travel – €200
Accommodation + studio – free
Expectations – Deliver curator talk. Attend studio visits. Write a report.
At a quick glance the most attractive residency from this small selection is the South London graduate scheme although aimed at a very specific group. It seems that a number of headers are sometimes rolled into one to give the impression of a higher fee. The most disappointing in terms of expectations of the artist and pay is the Firestation curator residency. I wanted to share this way of reviewing what is out there and I intend on doing this once a month to gain a broader view of the residency market. This is not about naming or shaming but learning about the language used within the advertising and understanding expectations in relation to artists pay. All of the above opportunities offer networking platforms meeting other artists or peers, which is why I have not gone into greater detail on each one.
For the past two weeks I have been letting myself indulge in online searching clicking on anything that relates to my interests in residencies, diversity, sharing, and research. I often have a sprawling approach to looking online although I am aware that I have to reign this in sometimes. I have been listening to East Street Arts audio clip from a recent research symposium at Live Art Bistro, what role does research play in supporting artists? https://soundcloud.com/east-street-arts/art-and-research-1?in=east-street-arts/sets/art-and-research-what-role. The ‘r’ word gets mentioned frequently throughout the discussion and made me think that I would like to understand some of the methodologies within the field. For this reason I bought a book titled Practice as Research, Approaches to Creative Arts Enquiry by Barrett and Bolt. Generally in my own performance art practice I use the process of making and reflecting through the work itself. Having read part way through the book I became concerned that I was getting too caught up in definitions and to embrace my creative approach to asking questions.
As part of my planning for my upcoming finding out events I will have some mentoring from Susan Jones well known to a-n subscribers, a published writer, researcher with in-depth knowledge of artists’ livelihoods, professional development and the value of the artist-led, socially-engaged-based practice. I really wanted to be able to speak to an independent researcher with an extensive knowledge of the art scene. We have exchanged a few emails to get started with and already Susan has directed me to research I was unaware off. Where do you go to research existing research? Sounds like a silly question, but I am actually being very serious. What’s the point of having all this enriching information out there if people can’t access it?
I am approaching this project starting from my own experience of participating in artist residencies and I want to find out about local, national and international activity. To approach finding out about international residencies I will be looking through the resartis database http://www.resartis.org/en/residencies/. To research nationally run residencies I have started reading through the Artquest directory where surprisingly there are few listed in the UK. http://www.artquest.org.uk/articles/view/uk-residencieslisting. Locally I will be visiting artists and events at Islington Mill and I was delighted to hear Program Director Maia Murphy from Recess, a NYC-based arts nonprofit that combines studio and exhibition space artist talk http://www.recessart.org. It was refreshing to hear about an international residency program that was focused on the artist engaging with the local community. Often artist residencies are set up as retreats for the artist to work in solitude, sometimes even criticized as holidays. I do wonder if these types of residencies are more common as they require little money to run and support. To get a wider, now view of artist residencies I will be taking social media snapshots from Facebook and Twitter as I am aware that there is information online circulating outside of the official database structures.
Finally after part self-funding a research trip to Finland, developing the idea over the past 18 months and a second attempt of applying to Arts Council England my project has been funded. I have to start by giving my thanks to early development support from a-n Re:view bursary, PANDA the performing arts network, Pool Arts, peers, friends and family for helping me get to this point. The funding has come at a critical time for me and I am really excited to be able to research diverse-led artist residencies from the artist initiated, experimental, structured and to find out more about who is missing out and what are the artists professional development needs. This research will feed into a fully supported artist residency with a sharing event at Islington Mill in early 2017. We Are Resident overview is:
1. Host a series of UK artist networking events to research their specific professional development needs.
2. Research current artist residencies in the UK and internationally.
3. Send a UK artist to Tampere and invite a Finnish artist to be resident at Islington Mill.
A recent research residency I undertook in Tampere, Finland in July 2014 with my husband and then six-month-old baby inspired my project. Unknown to me at the time most residencies tend to cater for the individual, with few accepting partners let alone children. This got me thinking who else feels unable to participate in artist residencies? Please follow the link to see my blog from the Takahuhti research residency on a-n blogs.
In the first week of my project I am doing lots of emailing, setting up meetings and reconnecting with partners. To have an overview of what I am doing I have a hand written timeline for the next 18 months, focusing for now on activity in 2015. My first meetings have been with Director Maurice Carlin at Islington Mill potluck dinner which seemed a good way to start getting to know the Mills culture by visiting events and meeting artists in residence http://www.islingtonmill.com. Secondly this week I met with visual artist Michiko Fujii to have initial conversations about my first research event at Manchester Art Gallery and I was really excited to be bouncing around ideas with her, there were lots of them http://www.michikofujii.co.uk. We will be co-creating an artist parent networking event at the gallery in the CLORE studio at the end of this year, November time with the aim of gathering artists responses, an activity for both adult and child to do together and something for the child to do independently. I am still at the early stages of planning event 1, however as soon as dates and content are agreed details will be posted here.