For 5 years, we've survived on commissions, earned income, partnerships, resource-sharing & the occasional small project grant. All thanks to the support of a powerful community. Not having core/long-term funding has never affected our ambition, activism or pragmatism. And it’s not about to start.
MAIA began as MAIA Creatives in 2013, as an artist and business development organisation. We wanted to see a sustainable creative economy. Back then, we thought that equipping creatives with business skills and then connecting businesses and brands with artists was the way to go. It worked for a little while. We did all sorts. From developing business clubs for emerging artists, we designed and delivered creative enterprise modules at universities, created platforms for sharing work and building links, connected large institutions with talent, we produced and curated stuff for artists and cultural organisations, set up an agency representing designers and so on. We’ve had ideas and work shared, stolen, replicated and championed (neither of which took us off mission). But it wasn’t enough.
Over the years, it became increasingly clear, that in order to see a creative ecology, we really needed to step back and analyse the systemic issues at play. Lots of questioning ensued, largely unpicking the factors that affect how people live, work and contribute – in creative and civic capacities – in cities like Birmingham.
2018 marks a crucial turning point for us (the joy of being a small, artist-led company means we can adapt easily to cater to the needs of those we serve). With new core projects, we're researching and designing practical solutions for some of the challenges faced by the creative community in the West Midlands. We want to see a healthy, equitable ecosystem in which artists and citizens have an active role in shaping. Hope to connect with you along the way.
P.O.C: a network for media, events and arts producers/organisers of colour. Through this forum, we’ll activate a policy and advocacy strand, a Fellowship for producers of colour and learning spaces for intergenerational, cross-disciplinary exchange.
Art Hotel: developing a new public space housing creatives ‘on the road’ and those wanting to experience Birmingham through a new lens. Fuelled by a programme of activity, Art Hotel will be artist-led and community-driven, combining accommodation, project spaces, a community hub, garden and library. Using a multi-access commercial business model, we aim to support young people and the local community with resources, skills development and equitable employment opportunities, while catering to the varied needs of the local and visiting creative community.
PROTOTYPE: (formerly The PROPOSAL) provides seed funding and peer support for the early stage projects and art works of local artists. In partnership with Grand Union, 5 artists present ‘prototypes’ of a new idea and the audience pools its resources to support them in happening.
Alternative Civics: an initiative to explore the ways creative practice can produce tangible change for the practical concerns of people. Through open forums, research, peer-learning and workshops, we can interrogate the possibility of developing new systems, definitions, models and infrastructures relevant to contemporary culture and citizenship. #altcivics launches with The New Artist Economy, February 28th 2018.