Guest artist blog – European solidarity on day of the Referendum @ GDIF & Xtrax professional outdoor arts showcase 2016

By 3rd July 2016Uncategorised

James Doyle-Roberts, Co-Artistic Director of Wales based company Citrus Arts, visited the Greenwich & Docklands International Festival and Xtrax Showcase, along with several Wales based artists and arts organisations alongside Articulture. Below is an account of his experience.

Citrus Arts specialises in circus, street theatre, drama, dance, and education projects, working alongside some of Europe’s leading practitioners, in a wide range of contexts and locations. You can find out more about Citrus Arts here – www.citrusarts.squarespace.com

On 24th June I attended the opening events of Greenwich & Docklands International Festival, and the Xtrax networking events for Outdoor Arts colleagues from the UK, Europe and across the world.

It’s impossible not to mention that this was the day that the referendum result was declared! I’d woken early in an inexpensive hotel room to hear the result and with a sinking heart wondering wondering what on earth we are going to do in a society that had narrowly voted to cut-off one of the major sources of funding to tourism and culture in Wales…

At the GDIF Marketplace event where artists meet programmers to sell our shows and forge opportunities for collaboration, the atmosphere was Brexit low. However there was solidarity to be had as I took up opportunities offered to build relationships with fellow artists around Europe and the wider world, and discuss the chance for us to make the best of the funds we could collectively gather between us if we cooperate.

Speakers welled-up as they tried to contextualise why we were all there. Scottish delegates had confidence that they would go their own way, anyway; I felt like apologising for Wales’ strong vote to leave the EU!

As the afternoon went on however, I felt back in a familiar place – catching up with friends & colleagues to hear what they’re doing creatively, and how they’re doing it by forging diverse partnerships to make the small pots of money we can individually access to make the creative whole bigger than the budgetary sum of its parts.

These are the invaluable aspects of going to events like this, and is something I’m extremely glad that Articulture understands and supports.

I came away from the event with several sound leads to follow: The Korean delegation were smitten by pictures of the “Ceirw” characters (commissioned by Articulture Wales); I was pleased to hear that Citrus Arts are becoming well-recognised as freelance creatives and directors of commissioned works; I found potential partners in England for a project we’ve been developing with Arts Council Wales & UK outdoor arts specialists Walk The Plank for 2017; and most rewardingly, had a lightning-strike idea for a project I’m about to embark upon for Arts Council Wales’ innovative Lead Creative Schools programme.

The thing I love most about my job in this sector is that there are organisations like Articulture who understand that Welsh artists are a naturally cooperative bunch, who thrive from being around other artists. It’s always up to us as individuals to push things further creatively and follow-up on the leads, but with this sense of connection to a broader network you really feel driven to step into the shoes of the entrepreneur you need to be.

Thank you Articulture, I now have a lot of exciting homework to do!

 

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