Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Art Trails

Lately it feels like there has been so little time to write. It's moments like that when I long for technology to steam ahead and invent the chip that can be inserted into our brains and can download the story, article or thoughts ready for publication. But being a relatively lazy Sunday morning and seeing Zeus, the beautiful cat, is happy to stay in bed, I am finally in a space to put pen to paper (so to speak).

I've just returned from a few days in Melbourne, a city that gives me an enormous amount of visual and aural stimulation. There seems to be art everywhere; in the landscapes, the architecture, the food and the people. I trod the pavements; shopping in those high end places I had never dared to enter and having new experiences. One of which was the obligatory Peking duck experience. A little restaurant in Brunswick where duck was their speciality. Like many such restaurants the d├ęcor was pretty bland, but the skill of the waiter was astounding. He sliced off crispy delicious pieces of succulent duck for us to wrap in our almost transparent pancakes, The taste was sensational.
Some of the Melbourne CBD art

It wasn't difficult to find interesting artists. I happened upon many arts experiences; an exhibition of fashion at Federation Square, a groovy Jazz club decked out as an opium den and a cooperative of artisans inhabiting one of the many laneways.

Only days before heading to Melbourne I spent 4 days on the West Coast of Tasmania. I was meeting with the Councillors to discuss the benefits of a local council having an arts strategy. Just a week before at a local government managers and mayors meeting in Launceston there had been a unanimous agreement to establish an MOU between Tas Regional Arts and the Local Government Association of Tasmania. The demand for our work in local government had increased and it was a natural and welcome progression.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What do you want?

In 2008 I was lucky enough to be part of one of the last intakes of the Arts Administration course that was being offered by TAFE Tasmania (before the change to the Polytechnic). By the way, this TAFE course that was taught by Dr Jane Deeth (Consultant) and Sarah McCormack (Stompin) was brilliant. I sat alongside musicians, artists, writers, educators and managers who all benefited from the insight, learning and networks. For me the year long course provided an opportunity to research an idea I had been thinking about for a while. I had been painting since I was around 23 and writing since I was a kid, so I had tasted the bitter sweetness of selling work, painting commissions and the absolute joy of creating something through at times a meditative process that left me completely contented. It is such a pleasure to be able to make and create.

A background in communication, marketing and community development had also given me insight into the broader world of the artist or performer. There was an still is an expectation for them to be able to do it all; market, manage and make, and the isolation that can cripple individuals and see stacks of amazing work being stored in dusty backrooms. I don't agree with this. I mean, it's great if you can do it and it doesn't impact on the work you are making, but, we need to acknowledge that there is a need for other approaches.

This is why I started my business in 2008. It was to support anyone with an arts idea to make it happen. The 'old guard' laughed, saying "you'll never make any money from it', but the artists that I had been talking with loved the idea. It's probably worth noting here that money has never been my driving motivator, which is probably best.

As soon as I started talking about the business there was interest in it and since then I have worked with more than 20 individuals and groups in a range of ways. It's been a roller coaster ride and I feel incredibly lucky to have met and worked with so many amazing artists.

My work is supported by others in Australia and internationally. I brought Dr Ernesto Sirolli to Tasmania in 2010 to speak a the Regional Arts Australia conference in Launceston. His model is based on building the team you need, like any entrepreneur. He absolutely condones following your passion and inviting others to bring the other skills. I was lucky enough to undertake the Sirolli Trinity of Management Training which just fueled my belief that I was on the right track.

To enable me to put food on the table, I have had to mix it up and work for organisations to supplement my income. This has included Screen Tasmania, local councils and most predominately Tasmanian Regional Arts. I have been lucky in TRA that the flexibility and direction of this organisation aligns well with my private Creative Coaching work. However, my passion and commitment to the individual maker has not waned and it is time to reflect on what has been done and what is the next step.

Is there a need for someone in the type of role I undertake? A Creative Coach (pardon the term, but it's the best description for what I do) that provides an objective eye and support in marketing, planning, distribution, grant writing etc. 

It's time for me to find our more and plan the next stage of this work, so please respond to the question on my blog and let me know what you want. Also, feel free to tell me more by commenting on this blog post. I thank all who I have had the privilege to meet and work with and look forward to finding better ways. xK

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