82 Image credit: These Horses at PL:ay Festival.
A beginners guide to making a DIY artist led project: INTRODUCTION: When we were about to graduate from University we started to think about being artists out in the real world and found a leaflet from a-n (artist newsletter) which had the following advice (or something to this effect): When you finish University, go home and find the artist led space in the place that you live in and get involved. If it doesn’t exist, set one up yourself. The idea that as artists we had a responsibility to contribute to the artistic community we would be part of (and that we couldn’t just sit back and expect other people to provide this for us) really stuck with us, and we have, in various ways, both worked towards helping to shape a creative ecology in the place/s we have lived and worked in, whilst making a number of artist led projects happen. The x2 larger scale artist led projects we have worked on/co-directed/produced were a 2 day live art festival called ‘PL:ay [a festival of adventure, anticipation and encounters]’ in 2007 and ‘Come to Ours’ a programme of art projects temporarily occupying unusual and unconventional sites, spaces and contexts around Plymouth, running alongside the British Art Show 7 (2011). When we decided to make PL:ay happen, we had absolutely no idea how to create a festival and we learnt very much ‘on the job’. This experience and the skills we gained (such as writing funding bids, budgeting, marketing, planning and evaluating) directly inputted into supporting our practices as artists, as well as the roles we held within arts institutions and enabled us to have the confidence and knowledge to work on other artist led projects.
We thought it might be useful to try and share some of the key things we learnt in an attempt to better equip others who feel like they have the energy and time to roll up their sleeves and get DIY’ing. WHO? Taking on a DIY project is likely to take up a lot of your ‘spare’ time, especially if you are doing this alongside your practice as an artist and other job commitments. So think about who you will enjoy spending all your evenings/weekends working with. Make sure you: • trust eachother • like each other • find each other funny • have similar taste/curatorial approach (the programming / curating / content bit should be relatively straight forward and enjoyable and if its not/and you can't agree on anything, you are most likely working with the wrong person) • want the same outcomes • are both/all equally committed to the project and as much as possible, have equal amounts of time to give to the DIY venture • are each willing to put up your hand and take things on/divide up the workload (even the shit / more boring jobs) and then follow through on these jobs. >< You are going to need to make allies and partners (maybe other artists, maybe existing organisations who have an established audience, maybe local businesses who have access to venues or other resources) to make your DIY venture a success. Look out for people who can act as mentors for your project by thinking about who might