In writing this report I've had a chance to reflect on why I called the session. It was around some thoughts/frustration/maybe just indigestion around making art in the Borough and how we can tackle them together.

Croydon is growing (Hooray! Yes! Excellent!) new spaces and platforms for artistic product but do we have sufficient spaces/opportunities for the processes that underpin testing and exploring in the first place, IN Croydon? Are we building solid artistic foundations from which good and steady practices can emerge and remain in the Borough? If artists can put ON work here but not grow, test and develop work and make mistakes here, will they STAY here?

I'm already contradicted because the brilliant Croydonites Festival recently supported and commissioned new work. But I don't mean new work per se. I mean the time and space to slosh, slog and weep in a studio with a half baked idea you had six years ago. What I'm saying is those times are important in getting to the good stuff, are crucial to refining the craft and it would be nice if we had a hand to hold, in Croydon, as we did it. And I mean hands for all artists, not just the emerging ones.

And I know that making any work (product) does have this slog and slosh (process) at it's heart. But sometimes we just need some slogging and sloshing without it going anywhere at the time, but knowing that the mess will come back to us when we need it.

Many of the thoughts above have emerged through writing this report. Here is what we actually talked about:

We were inspired by:

A successful model of the Invention Theatre at Stanley Halls a few years ago. 5 companies had 5 days in a space leading to a test sharing of work for an audience. Many of the works included have gone forward into more development. I was lucky to be a participant, but I don't want to feel lucky, I want everyone to have opportunities like this in Croydon.

We asked things like:

How and where can we support and help develop individual research and practice-refining within Croydon?

How and where can we help each other develop, play experiment, risk and sometimes fail?

How and where can we offer or receive mentoring and critical eyes on our work within Croydon, rather than looking outside of the Borough? I think this happens informally, I often get second eye and advice from Owen Kingston at Parabolic.

We talked about:

The tension between risk and “being like-able and fund-able” by funders. Someone offered that this tension between the kind of work we think is wanted from us (e.g. to support the night time economy) versus our own artistic aims is only perceived and might be playing into unfounded misconceptions that are not helpful for us. Someone commented that “we are or own business” and we should feel totally free to explore what we want to artistically, supported by initiatives such as Good Evening Croydon.

There are two types of audience that Human Zoo, or someone working with them, had identified in Croydon - those who can't afford to see things and those who spontaneously decide to see things. This discussion did lead to thoughts on supply and demand - that we need to actually be making more work to become more visible in Croydon. (This sounds very vague- please elaborate on comments on this please!)

The celebration of what we are already doing. Human Zoo and other Croydon companies /orgs should be championed more so that our community (and audience) feel proud of what is being made or imagined in Croydon.

There was an observation that a lot of the artists at the event were form the performing arts, and that we could possibly work more accross art forms.

We messed about with:

Ideas of using public space as rehearsal space and testing ground. Ruskin Square, Whitgift Shopping centre, possibly park spaces etc. Will change the work being made but might be interesting, rather than lamenting “there's no spaces”.

Flash Mob Rehearsals.

The Foyer Series (working in open and unused spaces)

Throwing open the Braithwaite Hall for one off days or overnight rehearsals for groups of us.

We got very excited about: The fact Croydon has an ACE Relationship Manager called Charlotte Penny who is offering ACE surgeries. We weren't sure how exactly artists can meet with her. There was in fact some frantic scribbling at this point, perhaps highlighting how sometimes information like this could be more easily accessible

Scratch nights as an option to test work with each other. Scratch nights already exist so we can tap into these or Jamal from Utopia happy to talk about a new one going if enough of us want one.

Theatre on the Market - Human Zoo staging arts event in Surrey Street in the summer

Rise and Rave - SLiDE Dance are holding a morning rave at BoxPark on 20th May.

In the process of writing this overview, I'm reminded of the recently ACE funded collective in Norwich.

This was dance focussed, and was a year long programme of shared workshops and performances to develop each individual artist within the collective and test the local artistic ground.

With council funds often only available to organisations in Croydon, perhaps this is a model that we can start thinking towards, with one organisation as lead, but offering development opportunities to a group of artists. Human Zoo have started this model by hosting this very event (cheers Human Zoo!).

Could we create a Croydon based DIY in 2018? Or invent our own model of this?

Or maybe, there are collective labs of experimentation bubbling away, The Flypit at Stanley Halls for one who have already offered some development opportunities for artists and also offer space.

And because there is nothing worse than working your arty-arse off in and for Croydon and people still not having a clue about your work, tell us about it in the comments.

Please also see the other report on Mapping as a great start of a resource. Skill sharing can grow from map making…

I hope I've woven together the many threads of what we discussed.

Maybe what we need is initially a Croydon Directory of Hand Holders for Artistic Practice. Something like that.