Through MAIA, I've been working 'officially' as a producer for the last four years, though doing bits and bobs long before. Without a doubt, one of my favourite things about working in this capacity is the artists I connect with along the way.
I love commissioning artists for projects. I love learning what artists are working on and finding ways to help their ideas happen. I love seeing artists paid for their work and ideas. I love when the value of artists is acknowledged; that to enable artists is to enable the unpicking, communication, understanding, creation, exploration of EVERYTHING.
From our inception, MAIA has been an arts production and development company, committed to supporting artists in becoming sustainable doing what they love. As we have evolved, MAIA has delved deeper into exploring how artists not only develop and work in society, but also how they live and contribute to the world around them. Whether that be through the artist-led hotel we're working on, the artist business workshops we run, the tours/performance nights we produce or the production/audience development contracts we have, everything is about feeding into the ecology that gives space for artists to do their thing.
All of this started to become clearer with The Scratch Night back in 2014. We wanted to create a space for artists to test their ideas and have a dialogue with an audience, free from expectation, imposed ideals and the pressure of perfection. From The Scratch Night, we built a truly supportive and attentive community, from Ort Gallery, to Centrala, the former Drum and the BBC.
But we always knew the platform would eventually have to grow beyond this, in order to adapt and support artists in the ways they require. It also became clear, both in my own experience as an artist and that of my peers, there was limited dialogue specifically about how to build effective project proposals or tips for how to communicate work. It has always been a learn-on-the-go affair. What would it look like if we were to give this stage some attention; if we could come together to equip each other with the tools and resources needed to move projects forward?
In wanting to expand on The Scratch Night's communal work-in-progress platform, we're excited to work with Grand Union on this next phase.
The PROPOSAL, Weds 5 July 2017
6-8pm, @ Grand Union, 19 Minerva Works, 158 Fazeley Street, B5 5RS
Inspired by iluvlive's talent showcase and voting process, Birmingham Soup's democratic crowdfunding nature and the work-in-progress installation in Switzerland, The PROPOSAL brings together a community of arts supporters who collectively crowdfund and crowdsource support for the prototypes, ideas and plans of artists/producers working locally. The PROPOSAL is the first of a number of experiments we'll be trialling to see how we might find ways of supporting artists that aren't already sustainable in their practice. We're super excited to see what comes of this inaugural event and to collaboratively shape what happens next.
Recently, a number of arts organisations in the Midlands were awarded Arts Council's National Portfolio Organisation status, meaning they will receive large sums of strategic funding for the next 4 years. This has the potential to be amazing for the region, particularly where emphasis has been placed on the diversification of these organisations and their output. But the work and accountability starts now and it'll be interesting to see how independent artists, collectives and micro-organisations fare over the next four years.
Starting where we are, doing what we can, lets hope this is the start of good things to come.