Solo Artist support: How do we avoid becoming loners?

Nicky Bellenger, 21 September 2012

It's a question that I was first desperate to throw out there about a year or so ago. So I emailed another solo artist, Bryony Kimmings, who had been making solo work for longer than myself. She replied by suggesting we met to chat informally at Soho Theatre, but that we should invite other solo artists to join us for the meeting. And so the first SAG meeting was born (Solo Artist Group). We now meet quarterly at Soho for 2 hours in the evening to chat, share experiences and share oxygen.

What I now want to know is do other solo artists in this region feel the same? Or is it just predominantly London based solo artists who are craving this informal and honest interaction?

Today we decided it's a very common feeling for solo artists of any practice, be that performance, writing, puppeteering, music etc, to feel isolated, but plough on not wanting to admit to defeat or show weakness.

We agreed that it's so important for solo artists to share physical spaces with each other. Be that hot desks in an office, studio spaces or just the bar.

We questioned whether you should feel guilty about being a solo artist? There are actually many plus points: It makes collaborations less daunting and perhaps easier to arrange, it allows for audience interaction to be more personal and again, less daunting. It's selfish…or is it?

And of course, it can be more economical. 1 person is more flexible, cheaper to programme, takes more of a share of the fee, fits into a smaller vehicle when travelling(!). It was also discussed that there seems to be a demand for solo work.

There was an outstanding agreement that now is an exciting time, in which artists need to be savvy in inventing support and professional development for themselves, solo or not. Let's not wait for venues to provide these groups for us! What is to stop us from approaching a venue and asking them to provide us with a space in order for us to host our own groups, that meet our own desires and needs for the present time.

SAG at Soho brings people into the building, and after the last meeting we all got tickets for a show, so this can totally be a two way deal. By setting up these sorts of honest and open support groups we can be safe in the knowledge that we're not here to ‘network’ or to sell ourselves and our work, we're here (much like today) to talk as people first, and artists second. Each meeting is tailored to the people present, it's different every time.

SAG will also be at The Point in Eastleigh next month as part of ‘Reverb’ and Bryony will soon set up a group at The Junction in Cambridge. It's working, and there's a demand for it, so get involved! Or why not set up your own group if you feel annoyed that there isn't one in your area?


hot desks, isolation, support groups, be savvy, Eastleigh, Soho, The Point, solo artists, shared space