I got too involved in capturing notes to also capture people's names, but this was a friendly group of between 9-14 artists talking about their experiences in artist development programmes and what might work or make a difference for them.

Key takeaways:

This underpinned almost every suggestion made. Artist development processes are most successful when everyone knows why they are there, what is expected of everyone involved, what the start and end points are, how to communicate with each other, and what's going to happen at the end. That might be a really intense year-long attachment with lots of detailed paperwork or it might be a quick and effective conversation establishing that there's £500 and a week of space on the table and no expectations of a sharing at the end of it.

There's a risk that artist development programmes can slide into paternalistic or exploitative territory. One of the most effective ways of avoiding this is ensuring that the artist retains as much agency as possible while being supported by the venue. They are able to do this by knowing what the perimeters and expectations are and then being trusted to find the right way to work with these in place. This means that venues need to approach these relationships with respect and flexibility.

Access is a massive issue in every area of the sector, including artist development. How are we making our opportunities accessible? Are we inviting artists to talk to us about the barriers that might stop them from applying for our opportunities? Are we considering ways we can reduce these barriers - including recognising that the administration involved in taking up the opportunity can be a real access issue for disabled artists as this affects the amount of energy they have for creativity.

Time is money. And energy. And effort. Are there other ways you could have meetings that don't mean an artist loses half a day to drink coffee with you? Can we talk by Skype? Can you talk over the phone? Are there more effective ways to share information, like a paid full day workshop bringing together a number of artists so there are secondary benefits?

We also talked about programmes that create time for artists to grow organically rather than short term opportunities, and the importance of peer mentoring and networking opportunities.