Published: 12 June 2018
At the start of this year, I began a process of interviewing artists, commissioners, funders, local authorities, researchers, academics involved with socially engaged artistic practice. The aim of these interviews was:
- To ascertain current gaps and issues in the field of socially engaged artistic practice
- To determine whether the Models of Validation project could address any of these issues by providing new services for those involved in this practice.
- To find out what kinds of validation happen in the field and how they differ from traditional, gallery models of support.
I spoke with 40 people, who all generously gave up their time to chat with me about these issues, and I am currently in the process of coding the transcripts (which takes a VERY long time) to produce a thorough report on the findings. However, there were some initial themes that reoccurred in most of the responses I received, and we thought that these were important enough to warrant some immediate change in our approach.
So some of the main themes from the interviews were:
- There is a lack of communication/communication is difficult between the people involved in socially engaged artistic practice and is hindering progress in the field
- There is a lack of connection between artists and funders in socially engaged artistic practice, which leads to frustration on both sides
- Thought leadership/sharing/awareness in the field is not centralised and artists often feel isolated from resources and knowledge of others
For some, these issues will be obvious, and that is fine. However, I think what is missing in the support of this practice is a willingness to listen and learn from these issues, and to let them directly inform the development of funding models and support structures.
When thinking of ways to respond to this it became clear that Axisweb could have a role to play in addressing some of the themes we uncovered. As a result, we applied for funding to facilitate three workshops which were aimed at knowledge exchange and communication between artists and funders/commissioners, four get-togethers to combat isolation in the field, a series of written pieces to establish a critical dialogue around this practice that will be published in a publication, and an artist commission, also to feature in the publication. We called these ‘Social Works?’.
The opportunities have been designed to be flexible, properly funded (those who have been around arts funding for long enough will know that there is a lot of funding out there that doesn’t acknowledge and artist’s time and labour in their funding models) and with relatively short application processes. I hope you will consider applying/share these to anyone you think might be interested!!
If you have any questions about any of the funding, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for application is 3rd July at midnight.