Date: 13 November 2018
Location: Primary, Nottingham
Facilitator: Priya Mistry
Gina Mollett reports back from For The Love of Labour Get Together, A Day of Preparing, Cooking, Cooperating & Organising
For The Love of Labour brought together practitioners based in Leicester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Bradford, Stoke-on-Trent, Oxford and Southend-on-Sea. Through an industrious schedule of activity we collectively measured, mapped out and somewhat digested our working conditions. We began by bringing our tools to the table to introduce ourselves and to share the things that are fundamental to our work: our diaries, books, bars of soap, pencils and tea bags that keep us fuelled.
Using cups of rice we measured out the time that we spend at labour: whether paid, unpaid, physical, mental, or emotional our time was collectively clocked. Our day to day activities became entwined with one another as we used balls of coloured wool to map out our responses to six key questions:
Knives and peelers in hand, we prepared the food for our evening meal and shared examples of good and bad working conditions that each of us had experienced. We found that when we are trusted and invested in we are given the room to develop, take risks and experiment with our practice. When there is a lack of understanding about the nature of our work we are micromanaged, underpaid and overworked.
Grace Harrison joined us to share her experience of being a part of an artist co-operative and setting up Kitty’s Laundrette in the Everton / Anfield area of Liverpool. The laundrette, named after local historical figure Kitty Wilson, provides affordable washing and drying facilities for residents. The space of the laundrette has been reimagined with a variety of social and creative activities such as film screenings, local history groups, crafts and ironing clubs. Could it be that an alternative economic structure is needed for socially engaged arts practice?
We tucked into our evening meal with further questions and began to piece together our recipe for the future. What do we need in order to feel validated in this field of work? Who exactly do we need this validation from? We identified our key ingredients: transparency, codes of conduct for organisations, peer-to-peer appraisals, collective action and celebration.
For the short time that we were together we could support one another in navigating our way through precarious working conditions, methods of self-care, and the social responsibility of arts organisations. However, there was a feeling of frustration in the room that these same topics are being discussed at various gatherings across the UK. Lists of actions, toolkits and resources are being produced but what needs to happen in order for them to implement real change?
For The Love of Labour was organised by Priya Mistry, Rebecca Beinart and Gina Mollett.
The event was produced on a budget of £600. This was spent in the following way:
Artist Organiser Fee: £300.00 + 197.20 Access contingency - not spent TOTAL £497.20
Artist Travel Expenses: £22.80
The preparation of this event took a total of 3 days work for each of the artist organisers. The hire of space at Primary was provided in kind (usually £75).
Precarious Workers Brigade: https://precariousworkersbrigade.tumblr.com/
Arts-based workers coops:
Video of Sion from Calverst: https://vimeo.com/162710674