a-n Assembly is set to return in 2019 with four events across the UK, bringing together artists for a mixture of workshops, talks and get-togethers based on the broad theme of ‘sustaining practice’.
Kicking off with Assembly Swansea on 23 May, followed by Assembly Aberdeen (4 July) the events will build on a-n’s approach from 2017 and 2018, which saw sessions in Margate, Liverpool, Bristol, Newcastle, Leeds, Salford, Birmingham, Cardiff and Dundee.
a-n Assembly will continue to be led by locally based artists, resulting in events with a regional resonance that support a-n’s members and local artist communities. They will also feature a variety of conversations, artist-led tours, networking and debate, whilst participants can also expect to hear from a-n about the practical ways it supports artists.
The aim is to provide a useful and thought provoking day which helps artists open up discussion about the things that they need for a sustainable career.
The 2019 programme kicks off in Swansea with a day-long event across three of the city’s art spaces on Thursday 23 May. Programmed in collaboration with Swansea-based artist Jane Simpson, Assembly Swansea will explore the difficulties and advantages of running artist-led projects in the city.
Simpson describes Swansea as “a city at the end of a train line, the exit off the motorway you pass on the road to a holiday in West Wales. When the city you are based in isn’t a ‘destination’, how can artists reach audiences, maintain relevance and remain engaged and connected?” Described by Simpson as ‘brimming with talent’, Swansea is home to a community of resourceful and creative people – but it also faces economic and geographical challenges.
Simpson has devised a day that addresses these issues and has proposed to ground the event with research from a pre-Assembly questionnaire. The day will conclude with a tangible outcome for the benefit of the city’s art scene.
The questionnaire has been devised by artists Jason & Becky and will be sent to participants in advance of the event to begin to identify the barriers to setting up artist-led projects. Their findings, along with a series of Artist Soap Boxes will be used to activate discussion throughout the day.
Assembly Swansea will also look outwards at existing projects for inspiration, culminating in a call-to-action with the creation of a manifesto for a Swansea union of artists, and road-map to foster a resurgence of artist-run activity.
Roger Lougher will share his experience of running artist-run project Rhôd, whilst artist Owen Griffiths – who has worked extensively on developing a socially-engaged practice, including collaborating with HMP Prisons, Social Services, The Trebanog Project and the edible land and community workshop space Graft (a soil-based syllabus) – will give a talk about his work.
Griffiths will then join Glynn Vivian curator Karen Mackinnon, Zoe Gealy from The National Waterfront Museum, and a representative from Arte Util, an international body that promotes ways for art to work effectively in ordinary life, for a panel discussion on the strengths and relevance of such projects in South Wales.
There will also be a panel discussion featuring Jane Simpson, GS Artists, Jonathan Powell, Elysium Gallery, and Pria Borg-Marks, Shift. It will pose the question ‘How can Swansea get the confidence boost it needs to realise the full potential of its arts scene?’.
Read the full Assembly Swansea programme here: www.a-n.co.uk/assembly/swansea
Assembly Swansea takes place Thursday 23 May 2019.
Venues: National Waterfront Museum, Oystermouth Road, Maritime Quarter, Swansea SA1 3RD; Glynn Vivian Gallery, Alexandra Rd, Swansea SA1 5DZ; Elysium Gallery, 210 High Street, Swansea, SA1 1PE
Lunch and refreshments are provided as part of the day. This is a full day event. Booking is required. Tickets are free for a-n members and £10 for non-members.
1. Assembly Dundee, October 2018. Places of production workshop – Spit and Sawdust, Cardiff. Photo: David P Scott
2. Assembly Salford, May 2018. Photo: John Lynch
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