Summary of the Arts Development Conference, Birmingham 28/29 November

Summary of Arts Development Conference in Birmingham 28/29 November 2013

Attendees:                           Carol Parker, Dave Briggs, Gillian Wing (all Lincs Artist Forum members)

Summary by:                     Carol Parker

Date:                                      1.12.13

Our breakout session:

Creative Lincolnshire: The 3 LAF members will discuss the artist led collaboration designed to enable artists to support, collaborate and work together across Lincolnshire in a wide range of art forms and including artists at varying stages in their careers.  LAF grasped the opportunity presented by ACE’s Creative People and Places programme and provided the artist lead required of the bid consortium.   The bid was a 1st round success with a £2.6 million allocation for South Holland and Boston District in South Lincolnshire.   LAF aims to become a gateway to develop partnerships with a variety of local and national third sector and arts bodies.

Date & Time:                        29 November, 14.15-15.15 repeated at 15.45-16.45

We arrived at the amazing new library just in time to catch a couple of first day breakout sessions.   I opted for session 4, an update from the Arts Councils of England and Wales, with Paul Bristow and Carys Wynne, followed by session 5, Money from Europe with Geoffrey Brown of EUCLID.

Carys was an inspirational speaker.  She gave a passionate presentation on how artist support and development was central to sustainability of the arts in Wales.  Strangely Paul Bristow’s presentation didn’t mention artists once, although I’m prepared to be corrected, but there were lots of ‘holistic’  mutterings.  I spoke to  Carys later during a refreshment break….I told her how positive her part of the session had been and I wondered why it wasn’t mirrored by Arts Council England…she says she’s working on it, go Carys!   Then on to Geoffrey Brown from EUCLID, what a gem.  Engaging, funny, no jargon and straight to the point, giving top tips too on how to apply for EU funding for culture and the arts.

Lunch was mushroom curry and rice, a pleasant change to the usual cold buffet and extremely tasty.  As all the study tours were fully booked we went to our hotel to check in and rest up before me and Gillian went for a wander around the streets of Birmingham.   We ambled through the Frankfurt market past stalls selling ostrich and kangaroo meat…..always followed by the lingering sweet sickly smell of doughnuts.    Christmas lights twinkled making wonderful reflections in the shiny buildings and people walked about with pint glasses of Gluhwein…very strange.    The good humoured, large crowd was entertained by beatboxers and a jazz band and we ended up in Jamie’s Italian restaurant.   I’m afraid we didn’t make the AGM in the evening as we were utterly tuckered out.

I had a wonderful night’s sleep helped by the hum of traffic and cold night air (by choice, there was double glazing for those that wanted it!); on pillows of soft marshmallow.  I woke up to a strange sight of two men abseiling down a tall building across the road.  Not sure what they were doing, but I was intrigued for quite a while, hence the rush to get down for breakfast before the scrambled eggs went too rubbery…failed on that one.

So on to the second day of the conference.  We arrived back at the library and we were shown to our presentation room.  We asked if all the tables could be moved as we wanted a more informal set up and went off to hear Laura Dyer’s keynote speech.  Nothing new to be honest, she’s a good speaker but I’ve grown to doubt words, preferring the solid reality of actions.

A break and then back into the theatre for Sophie Cullinan and Sally Lemsford’s World Café.  Each table was laid with a collection of materials to encourage a conversation and information sharing around a given question.  We were asked to put on plastic aprons, hair nets and gloves before making several trolley dashes to collect further items, each containing a word.   Personally I would rather have had a conversation with the people around my table without being distracted by tearing up bits of paper to make a sauce but I’m just a party pooper!   We were then asked to move on to another table for a different conversation.   It was here that I met Gus Garside, a learning disability arts consultant, we left to have a quiet chat over coffee.

The artists provided a brilliant activity which was visual as well as high on participation but I think I was hungry for networking and for me it just got in the way.

Back to our presentation room to go over our notes and check we had the right memory stick before going back down to the theatre for another great lunch of vegetable lasagne….on the way we noticed loads of people had suddenly gathered outside the library and were milling inside.   Prince William no less!  I didn’t catch a glimpse, somehow managed to miss it all, must have been looking the other way or in the loo.

So the time had come for our presentation, about 24 people sat in front of us and I was very pleased to see Susan Jones amongst them.   Dave, great orator and digital master ran through some slides to show the problems that exist in the rural arts landscape, with Gillian and myself chipping in at certain points….actually that’s probably me chipping in and Gillian proving her worth as a similarly great orator.   We spoke about Lincs Artist Forum and how the artist collective had provided the artist lead for the Creative People and Places bid as well as providing support and an information sharing platform for rural artists.   I explained my current self -funded project ‘Art on the High Street’, a collaboration with another artist to create installations in an empty shop and my allotment project ‘The Shed’, a space which is available for artists and groups to use for arts interventions.   Questions poured in at the end and we ran slightly over.  Mike Hoskin, our facilitator, seemed pleased, phew.

A short break and interesting chat with Anna Jones of Creative Junction before repeating it all for the next session.   You’d think it would be easier once you’ve done it the first time but actually it’s the opposite…’s hard.   Not so many delegates this time, around 10, but a very appreciative group and lots of questions again.

So that’s it, my first Arts Development Conference and considering the delegates were mostly local authority, I think I coped rather well!

Carol Parker, social artist

and slides from presentation: (thanks Dave)


One thought on “Summary of the Arts Development Conference, Birmingham 28/29 November

  1. Pingback: AD:UK Conference, Birmingham | Art on the High Street

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