The Anonymous Artist

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I am going to post some heartfelt words written by an artist I know. The words will be posted by me in order for them to remain anonymous.
They are a personal expression of how it is for this person to work in this industry.
In discussing whether or not to post them, we talked about how important it was to not ‘just moan’ and how we ought to look for suggestions or positive actions. But that is difficult, as the answers are elusive, the situation is complex and there are no bad guys here.
We then considered not posting them. But that doesn’t feel right either, because being an artist is about sharing experiences, and not doing so means we are complicit in censorship and maintaining the status quo.
So, we will post them as an offering. If positive actions could come from them that would be fantastic. If learning comes, great. If it’s just empathy, well that’s important too.
And if you’d like to respond or share your own experiences or ideas, in this format or one of your own, please please do.
To remain anonymous, just make sure you are signed up to The Red Line (in your name), but don’t include your name in the title or text of your post. Only The Red Line administrator will have access to this info.
Thanks
Lou Cope

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1 comment
  • LouCope
    REPLY

    HOW AN ARTIST IS FELLED

    How an Artist is felled. ?

    – … … …
    – Artistic director of venue X offers Artist residency with in-kind support for space and £500 of match funding for running workshops.
    – Artist runs workshops and invoices £300 for the 2 workshops.
    – Artist asks about the rest of the match funding as workshop fees do not cover the total of the match funding agreed .
    – Artistic director never replies.
    – Artist is a chicken so he uses his own fees to balance the budget.

    – Assistant producer of organisation Y emails asking Artist to change the pre-agreed length of presentation or else, Artist will be removed from programmationprogramme.
    – Artist is scared, wonders why no effort to discuss this was made before sending email. Artist calls assistant producer. A compromised is reached.

    – Assistant producer asks for list of technical requirement twice.
    – Artist sends tech requirement twice

    – Assistant producer tells Artist that tech will take place on such date, one day before showing.
    – Artist books accommodation.
    – On said date, Artist is told by email (which he gets to after having driven 55 miles) that tech will not take place on said date but will take place prior to the showing the following day. No explanatioon is given.
    – On showing day, Artist gets 20mn tech before performing. No apologyies is given

    – Artist emails to ask assistant producer if all is fine with technical requirements.
    – Assistant producer says all is fine
    – On day of showing, assistant producer says that he hasn’t got some of the technical requirement. No explanation is given
    – Artist wants to ask assistant producer why no mention of this was made when asked specifically
    about technical requirement was made, but Artist is a chicken and does not say anything for fear of
    embarrassing assistant producer in front of everyone else which could have repercussions for future conversation with organisation Y.

    – Artist agrees to meet freelance producer for a second day of advice but realises that producer has
    nothing more to offer and tells Artist “i dont know what your practice is about”.
    – Artist starts to doubt
    – Producer offers to invoice half day for meeting

    – Artistic director of organisation Y sends very supportive email to Artist adding that producer will be in touch
    – One month later, Artist has still not heard from producer. Artist contacts producer.
    – Artist meets producer.
    – Artist would like to ask why technical requirement had not been provided but does not want to
    appear difficult in for fear of risking future relationship so says nothing and pays £2000 for production fee.

    – From april to nov, Artist researches, prepares and writes 14 proposals and applications to secure match funding
    – Artist gets 12 rejections,
    – Artist gets one £500 seed commission.
    – Artist gets £30,000 of in-kind support.
    – Artist makes <£15.000 funding application to national funding body.
    – Artist receives small envelope from national funding body.
    – Artist feels incompetent

    – from april to june, Artist contacts producers/programmers to get advice on the project. Artist
    travels to meet with 3 of those.
    – Artist thinks he's getting somewhere.

    – Artist contacts new Artistic programmer from organisation T, which supported the R&D.
    – Artistic programmer emails saying he is happy to be part of the conversation to support the
    production of new work and offers to meet.
    – Artist replies offering dates and locations to meet.
    – Artistic programmer does not reply.
    – Artist calls and emails a couple of times.
    – Artistic programmer never replies.

    – Producer tells Artist that organisation Y cannot provide any match funding for the production of new work, but can provide in-kind rehearsal space.
    – Artist is very grateful.

    – Producer of venue D arranges residency with local organisation on behalf of Artist.
    – Artist meets curator of local organisation to arrange details of residency.
    – Artist emails curator to hear of decision about residency.
    – Curator wants to meet Artist again.
    – Artist meets curator to be told no decision has been taken.

    – Artist worries about finance: funding for new work and income not covering expenses from
    meetings and living costs.
    – number one fan tells Artist that he would not be able to support Artist for much longer.
    – Artist looks for foundations and trusts.
    – Artist is not a charity so Artist cannot apply to foundations and trusts.

    – Producer of venue D offers to support Artist's application to a foundation.
    – Artist writes application and producer sends application.

    – Artist asks curator if local organisation could support Artist's application to another foundation.
    – Curator says they have limited resources.
    – Artist offers to write application and spends 1 day and a half making a draft that Artist sends to
    curator.
    – Artist told that local organisation does not think application would be successful and told again
    that they have limited resources and cannot afford for curator to make application.

    – Artist feels more and more incompetent as finance dwindles, as his 2 zero hour jobs do not have
    many shifts on offer during quiet season.
    – Artist starts to use saving to pay for car insurance and taxes.

    – Producer of venue D invites Artist to present extract of new work at a day festival.
    – Artist is excited and happy to go back to making again.
    – Artist goes to venue every day and takes as many shifts from zero hours jobs as he can

    – Artist gets distracted during rehearsals by recurring feelings of incompetence linked with sourcing funding for new work.
    – Artist feels he's going backward, is making no progression.
    – Artist feels that it is his lack of strategic thinking that stops him.
    – Artist is a chicken and pushes away the thoughts that it is because he is not good enough, which would explain why organisations who supported the R&D have dropped the project (him)
    – Artist makes an 18 months plan of development.
    – Artist feels he's going somewhere.

    – Artist searches for freelance producer and prepares a call out that he sends out to get advice.
    – Artist hears back from freelance producer who expresses interest with working with Artist
    – Artist is chuffed.

    – Artist reworks funding application to national funding body.
    – Artist asks potential freelance producer whose role will be paid for if funding is successful to read-check new application. Artist offers a small fee of £50 for this.
    – Potential new producer emails Artist saying he has not got the time to read a whole application but sends a list of questions to help Artist.
    – Artist understands yet feels ashamed and wished that he could have offered more.

    – Artist gets selected for a professional development program, where Artist meets the artistic
    director of organisation W.
    – Artistic director invites Artist to send information about work and to meet up in London.
    – Artist sends info and potential dates to meet.
    – Artistic director never replies.
    – Artist passes information via a common colleague to Artistic director, still never hears back.

    – Producer from venue D offers to read application and advise to apply for a < £15,000 scheme.
    – Artist drops the 18 months plan, reworks application for only the development of new work +
    work with freelance producer.
    – Artist removes all fees for his residency time while developing new work to ensure that the other Artists involved get paid and that budget balances.
    – Producer from venue D is not able to re-read new application after all.
    – Artist sends paragraph concerning producer's role to freelance producer to read-check.
    – Freelance producer gives feedback back.
    – Artist sends application to national funding body.

    – Artist is selected for a scheme to match him with a Dramaturg to help the making of new work.
    – Artist is buzzing after skype chat with Dramaturg.

    – Artist shows number one fan a beginning of an idea explored during rehearsal.
    – Number one fan is dejected, expresses that Artist should have been doing more creation since the last showing, instead of hiding in research, and says he would not be able to support Artist for much longer.
    – Artist realises that he presented his idea too soon, yet the doubts bubble inside.
    – Artist finds it difficult to go to venue rehearsing, but once there, Artist seems to be able to work towards the showing to day festival.
    – Artist enjoys his time at venue D a lot.

    – Day before showing, during tech time, Artist's 10 years old laptop (the most expensive object
    Artist has ever bought) dies.
    – Technician offers his computer. Artist is able to do a run through to Artist director and producer

    – Artist is very excited about how the piece is developing, excited to be open and responsive to how each element 'wants' to fit together.
    – Artist 'trusts the material'. After a few days struggling with a section, that section finally is taken
    out and suddenly elements of it finds place as part of another section and this works beautifully, Artist thinks.

    – Artist presents twice at day festival
    – Artist feels good with his performance, growing in confidence with each presentation. Artist
    finally sees the potential of the work and hears/feels how audience is engaged. And curious.

    – Artist is on his guard, knowing the fall that happens after a showing and is eager to keep the
    momentum.

    – Artist plans residencies for the production that will start in Jan.
    – Artist gets invited to present work-in-progress at university festival in Feb.
    – Artist is very pleased that university festival offers a fee.

    – 2 days before Christmas, Artist receives small envelop from national funding body
    – Artist does not doubt anymore. He is certain of total incompetence and is filled with abject failure.
    – 1 day before Christmas Artist has a leak at his house.

    – Artist emails all Artists and potential freelance producer with the news about the funding
    – Artist receives supportive emails in return
    – Artist decides not to think about it till new year.
    – Artist is surprised that he can enjoy the festive season.

    – Artist emails potential freelance producer who offered to give advice on how to proceed further.
    – Artist stupidly tells potential freelance producer that he failed 14 applications/proposals/calls out prior to the last one.
    – Artist does not hear back from potential freelance producer, ever.

    – Artist decides not to give up and pursue the production of new work by self-funding it with his
    savings (£1800 from income of last funded project and freelance works).
    – Artist starts residency at local organisation 6 days/week and takes all evening shifts offered by
    zero hours jobs.
    – Artist enjoys some of his time there.
    – Artist spends too much times doubting.
    – Number one fan comes one day to help Artist at a low ebb.
    – Artist enjoys best the interaction with visitors.
    – Artist does not like what he makes anymore.
    – Artist uses Dramaturg’s help notes and questions to keep the focus on making.
    – Artist realises that visitors like meeting Artists.
    – Artist spends every drive to and from home rethinking the last 8 months and all the failed attempts at sourcing funding
    – Artist realises that if visitors are asked questions they can start to make sense of what they see for themselves.
    – Artist dissociates.
    – Artist sees a potential for engaging visitors in venues like local organisation.
    – Artist becomes tired and shuts down
    – Artist organises activities for family day at local organisation
    – Artist starts to sabotage his own work
    – Artist has great conversations with staff of local organisation
    – Artist leaves no time to prepare work-in-progress at university festival
    – Artist makes a very poor presentation. Number one fan tells Artist so. Artist feels ashamed.
    – Artist packs installation in his car and stays there unable to move for 2 hours

    – Artist starts new residency.
    – When Artist enters the studio Artist freezes.
    – Artist is unable to think, make, move.
    – Artist is unable to repress the feeling that he is not good enough, to shake the utter sense of failure,
    – Artist has regular noise bleed
    – Artist wakes up in the middle of the night.
    – Artist has heart palpitation
    – Number one fan drives Artist to the studio the next day to help him.
    – Number one fan drives Artist to the studio the following day too to continue to help Artist.
    – Artist has panic attacks.
    – One week into the last residency, Artist packs everything in his car and drives home.

    – Artist writes the above months, months, months later.
    – Artist thinks himself lame.
    – Artist thinks that in themselves, those ridiculous situations are insignificant. Yet, when put
    together, they weigh the Artist down until he is felled.
    – Artist knows this happens all the time.
    – Artist reads blogs/newspaper articles/posts about this all the time
    – Artist is embarrassed and ashamed about the whole situation
    – Artist continues to be a chicken
    – Artist realizes that his text offers no solution
    – Artist feels that he should offer a solution
    – Artist has no solution
    – Artist wants to be an ostrich…

    X

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