Claire Symonds, 9 January 2016

As a community we talk a lot about how venues should support artists. More money,

more space, more dates, more artist development opportunities. Across the country

we now have all kinds of venues establishing really great relationships with artists and

their work, and when this works it is fantastic.

We're less good at talking about the times when it doesn't work out. Maybe the venue

doesn't understand or have the right resources to support the needs of the artist.

Maybe the company has potential but aren't quite there with the work. Maybe there's a

personality clash which means the work is fine but the relationship itself is a bit of a

nightmare. From epic fall-outs to shamefaced fizzle-outs, there are many reasons why

a relationship between a venue and an artist doesn't work out and it's time to call it a

day. But when resources are scarce, opportunities are limited and there has been

emotional investment on both sides, how can this be managed positively?

We didn't find a definite answer but we did find the following suggestions to be useful.

1: MANAGE EXPECTATIONS AT THE OUTSET. This helps make sure everyone

knows what is expected of them, what's being offered and when the end-point is likely

to be.

2: VENUES: DON'T BE POSSESSIVE. Be generous in helping your companies to

establish partnerships with other partners, venues, mentors and funders. Support

co-commissions. Make introductions.

3: ARTISTS: DON'T BE DEPENDENT. Keep hustling. Keep working on your financial

plans, talking to other venues about other projects, and making Plan B, C, D and E.

4: TALK HONESTLY. A relationship is only as good as the communication between

both sides. If there's a problem, flag it up early and see if there's a way to work

together to fix it. And if there isn't a way to fix it - perhaps the work isn't good enough

or you've decided you want to work with a different venue - then take a deep breath

and say so. Nobody ever said, “Thank God they kept me hanging around for ages

before they told me the truth.” (That goes for programmers making programming

decisions too - enough with the “I'll get back to you”, already.)

5: NO SURPRISES. The end of an artistic relationship shouldn't come as a surprise.

Flag up the possibility early and if it's coming to a close, give a long notice period so

everyone can make good plans.

6: BE GRACIOUS. The end of a relationship might be an emotional thing. That's ok,

normal and understandable, but keep it in check. Channel your best self, make sure to

thank everyone for their work, never badmouth or bitch and reflect on the positives.

Venues, look for ways to connect artists with the audiences they've developed with

you (even though we acknowledge data sharing is a minefield right now).

7: THINK ABOUT ALUMNI, NOT EXES. The supported artist relationship might have

come to an end but that doesn't mean you always have to stop working together.

Venues - think about programming opportunities or future ways to connect, artists -

look for ways to feed in or support the next generation of artists being supported by

the venue.

Thanks to everyone who took part in the chat, particularly the ones who signed the


Chris Grady, Jenny Stuart, Mark Wallace, Sophia Stephenson, Claire Smith, Nir Paldi,

Ollie Dawson, Sam Fox, Sarah Wilson, Rebecca Atkinson-Lord


artist development, venues and artists, Talent Development, Collaboration, talent

development, collaboration, supporting artists