Is there *any* shared ground for professional artists and voluntary arts organisations?

Kate Hall, 3 October 2012

Space (rehearsal, performance, storage) Equipment

Voluntary Arts:

• Wants access to quality resources.
May have access to some things from the “real world” which small scale arts organisations would love to have – professional support, community relationships & physical resources, such as vans.
• Want to be treated with respect by venues - not as “cash cows.”

Professional Artists:

• May not sit comfortably together but could intersect.
• Doesn’t have to be a conflict of interest, as have a different schedule of need – real potential for sharing of resources.
• Need to earn a living from what they do (and therefore deliver a different product – as is expected, see below.)



Marketing Credibility Profile Platforms

Voluntary Arts:

• Would value access to professional processes.
• Audiences expect to be clearly told who is making the work (and will adjust expectations accordingly.)

Professional Artists:

• Both need it for audiences, and income streams (tickets, funding or sponsorship) but there are as many subtle differences as similarities in purpose and delivery, often due to external factors, such as funders.
• Requires a wider platform / profile to survive, and thrive.

ISSUE: MEMBERSHIP Fresh blood Youth section Diversity Inclusivity

Voluntary Arts:

• Generally anyone can apply
• Generates income and keeps organisation going.

• Can be a challenge to make space for new members and not alienate core members, which can produce contradictory goals.
• It’s important to listen to those with a stake in the creative community – whether they be the “young upstart”
• Can create a culture, unique to the Voluntary Sector, where different levels of ability can be accommodated, nurtured and even celebrated.
One is not “better” than another, they are instead in different position in the continuum.

Professional Artists:

• Always looking for the new (as in audience and inspiration), but are closed in who they have to invite in (but could look for ways to be more open.)
• Can be a struggle to make inroads into communities, and hold onto audience from project to project.

• Voluntary arts sector can keep new audiences “warm”, or give them a home to go to, or allow a new idea to live on.
• New audiences / members can be the laboratory to try new things... (and the develop into the wider organisations, such as young people’s use of Twitter to promote shows.)

Creative ambition / stimulus Pooling of resources and talent Reaching out
Broadening horizons

Voluntary Arts:

• Benefits of networking are less tangible, it may start with the practical, and then develop into the creative.
• Built on personal relationships
• Responds well to “gentle pushing” (rather than “big boots”) – peripheral learning more effective than “
Do As I Say, I’m The Professional

• There will always be those who don’t want to change.

Professional Artists:

• Networking is vital to survive, and creatively thrive.
• Requires mutual respect, and time to develop, and not just when working with Voluntary Arts sector.
• Always essential to create the right environment, and for the collaboration to be based in open and authentic motivations.


Voluntary Arts:

• Depends on your (individual and organisation goals (which may not be fixed) – ranging from the opportunity to be social & fostering a small, internal community of friends, to aspiring to professional work.
• The process can always be excellent, the product will be as good as it can be, though everyone wants to be great (don’t they?)

• Is often the place where the professional starts (and is shaped) – a strong voluntary sector can “birth” strong professionals – and you can’t always immediately tell where the talent is.

• Critical feedback in this setting is difficult - needs a high level of skill (such as a highly skilled professional – who can also over emotional distance) to both deliver (and receive.)

Professional Artists:

• Process and product is expected to be proportionally better, especially in that the audience experience is paramount (over the participants.)
• Can be a place for those with different goals (i.e. professional work) to go to, rather than insisting on full revolution at “home.”
• It is a challenge for any (arts) organisation to evolve and grow -
any long-lived professional arts organisations is experienced in walking this tightrope.
• Have been offered “organisational development” and “artist development” – maybe propose a Voluntary Arts Escalator scheme?
– with the local professionals offering the “development” – in whatever form.


collaboration, sharing, amateur, professional, participation, voluntary, Collaboration, Resources, members, Sharing, resources