How do we create more space

matt Feerick, 22 September 2012

This question was born from a desire as an artist to have more time for reflection, planning and idea creation. To be able to say to the company I work with and to the world around us that I need some time to consider the next step and our direction.

It seems that whilst in other cultures, such as France, there is an attitude of developing time and space for artists to think and breathe, here it is seen as a luxury and something that could not be funded; especially in a time where there are cuts and a lack of funds for the arts. My wonder is, will this lack of time and need to put people in to a position of producing work constantly with less freedom to take risk and less time to think about the works development, simply going to encourage the creation of poor work and commercial repeats.

Some of the sessions thoughts and responses included:

- Research has a purpose and should have a time dedicated to it. allowing for the development of ideas and the deepening of our understanding of a topic. This could be planned in to projects.

- By living where we do - Winchester - we have a wealth of space on our doorsteps, rivers, hills, countryside which is ideal for taking time and walking out in to the distance in order to reconnect with yourself and reflect.

- Working part time has its benefits - Working as a firefighter means that i spend part of my week in something completely different and very intense, which allows me to leave the questions and the introspection of art making and come back refreshed.

- It struck Marc (Director of Theatre Royal) How many young arts organisations were taking on multiple projects 4/5 at a time to sustain the organisations cash flow and survive. This doesn't seem healthy, as it must have an impact on the other projects that the companies are working on.

- France has much more respect for space and time taken for artists, the way in which they work allows for more space for artists to create.

- Perhaps in applications for projects part of the time line should be to build in the time for reflection and research.

- Would the Arts Council recognise this as valuable? or see it as a frivolity in a time of economic crisis.

- We should also see every project as a time to develop and grow as an artist, as a way of researching and building skills but also taking time to reflect and grow mentally and spiritually.

- An evaluation time should be built in to every project so that this can be fed back in to the Arts Council and other funders systems, that the needs of arts organisations is to have space to breathe and find new ideas and inspiration.

- A book by Jonathon Burrows was suggested which has a great deal about reflection, life and creativity. “At the exact point where you don't know what you want to do you have to state what it is you want to do.”

- Those artists who are on a salary have the luxury/opportunity of having a holiday entitlement where they can take time out and do exactly this, have space.

- Holidays and space are different things. You as a person need time to recharge. You as an artist need time to think and develop ideas. This isn't rest time, its time for planning research and immersion.

- At the mid-career level it seems to be the moment where this is hardest. You don't have enough of a reputation with funders to get the full whack, not enough of an audience base to drive sales to the max and you are not young enough or “emerging” enough to not care about money and just want to make a noise. It is also at this stage you stop jumping around just to make noise and start to consider what it is you want to say, people have started to listen, so what do you want them to hear. Thought is needed more here than at any point whilst you start to find and establish a clearer voice.

- What is the space for? perhaps it is about accepting that in projects it is necessary to have this and without the money to do it, the project wont happen.

- If you were a Benedictine monk it would be considered necessary, and you wouldn't get the funding application without the time for reflection.

- How do we support further the step from Emerging to Mid-scale? (perhaps a new discussion!)

- A TED talk was referenced: that one of the speakers said that every 7years he went away for a year. This wasn't because he had lots of money, but because he felt it was necessary to do. And that the best work that he made was always in the year after that year away.

- We need complete breaks every 5 years. As a soloist perhaps it is easier than if i have to leave a whole company behind, but people are burning out.

- You need to allow your paths and ideas and lives to change, to trust that by taking a leap in to space and a break it wont ruin everything you have worked for.

- The good thing about a group is that you can take a break and the work continues.

- That depends on the group and where they are at, rarely do groups stay together in the long run, normally there is something that will change the structure of the group and as a result this could mean that there are some people at the forefront who find it more difficult to leave for a break.

- It should be alright to be part-time and still be taken seriously. It feels like, if you are not completely focused on your art and working full time you cannot be considered to be successful or serious.

- We need a network of care. People are burning out. there are people who are destroyed by creation and as a result cannot create anymore. What happens to them?

- Work/life balance - there is a choice that we all make

- We should try also to remember that for all of us this comes from a passion and a desire to create and play that we should re find that. Sometimes I am envious of Am drams for that reason. Theatre needs to re-localise

- The groups are self-driven voluntary/community/shared benefits

- There seems to be a stigma attached to Am Drams.

- There are different levels of theatre. The role of professional theatre is to engage, challenge, question and need development time and research. It is from the fringes that popular work comes.

- There must be a lot of trained talent which ends up not being used. Where does it go? there must be a space in between professional theatre and am dram for them?

- We need to shake the “OAP Audience” image - which is perpetuated a little by the Am Dram scene.

- There is support through Equity for people who are having problems. counselling and advice.

- There seems to be a feeling that when you are out of London people are much less connected to the organisations that operate in London, such as Equity. perhaps there is a need for a local connection/way to access the information so that people can be referred to these support networks.

- Local Arts Centres used to be this, the home of local artists, but have had to start becoming touring venues or shutting down.

- The London / Regional relationships

- Fertile.

- London sucks audiences but Londoners wont come out.

- Outside London - How do you keep them local, there is a pressure to move to London for artists.

- there are more connections there internationally

- A stronger network

- the constraints are that there is a lack of space and there are too many artists.

- A lack of connection with their environment and town that they are based or come from.


france, Winchester, ideas, space, artist, freedom, Process, breathing, reflection, process, winchester, timeout, thought, planning, breaks, time

Comments: 1

Stephen Boyce, 25 September 2012

The book referred to above is A Choreographer's Handbook by Jonathan Burrows (Routledge). I recommend it for anyone interested in the creative process.

Stephen Boyce