Nurturing arts in public spaces in Wales throughout COVID 19

By 24th May 2020Uncategorised

As a small team of freelancers, Articulture have been listening, supporting and advocating for the outdoor arts movement in Wales during this time of unprecedented crisis and change.

Now into what would have been peak season, we step off the ‘corona-coaster’ for a breather to reflect. Here’s a bit of what we have been up to –

* Facilitating a study group across Wales for online, outdoor arts training ‘Create in Public Space’ with artists and producers.

In April and May eight Wales-based artists and producers and one from Italy joined the Articulture team to develop their skills and understanding of artistic creation in the public space with a free online course ‘Create in Public Space’. This ‘MOOC’ (Massive Open Online Course) was produced by FAI-AR, Europe’s sole higher education training programme on art in public space, in collaboration with the Europe-wide IN SITU platform and the French national organisation Artcena.

The 4-week course is packed with tools and inspiration to help participants understand and play a role in artistic creation in public space. Each week participants undertook a unit independently, then met up on Zoom to talk about their learning, facilitated by Articulture.

In a time of great uncertainty and lockdown the course was a great success, firing new inspiration and bringing a group from across Wales together to connect and support each other. We found the course to be excellent with one participant – Jenny Hall summing it up:

Quality of content, rigour of intellectual framework, fascinating examples of work’.

It was clear from feedback that the course had had immediate impact on generating new ideas, work and partnerships –

It was really such a valuable experience and has since rekindled my creative joie de vivre’ – Marc Rees

I’ve met some amazing people I didn’t know previously, intending to stay in touch for the future’ Iwan Williams

I think everyone in the group was very open and generous and I just really enjoyed the connections we have built’ – Olga Kaleta.

All participants recommended that Articulture run the course again –

It is a great tool and will be invaluable to people making work in Wales as a starting point’ – Gwyn Emberton.

* Holding over twenty one-to-one informal conversations with artists and producers.

Articulture has for many years acted as a cross between a ‘sounding-board’ and an ‘enquiry service’ and in this way the team has been able to offer support of all kinds through signposting, mentoring, site and rehearsal visits and fundraising support.

In the last few months this has continued with informal chats on the phone or zoom as people find their way, seeking financial support and navigating the creation of work in a different world. It’s been humbling, inspiring, worrying and a continuous learning process. This is still on offer – and helps us keep informed – so do get in touch if you think it could be useful to you.

* Participating in over twenty international meetings with leading networks including Outdoor Arts UK, National Association of Street Artists, Circostrada, What’s Next Cymru, representing outdoor arts in Wales and gathering intel and resources.

With the rapid changes of the last few months, it has been critical for Articulture to stay in touch with the outdoor arts networks that we are members of, as well as with other key online discussions. We aim to keep sharing the perspective and news from Wales alongside scanning for opportunities, ideas and resources. Many of these meetings are open – both OAUK and NASA have waived their membership fees during this time, so we have also been promoting the support available to those based in Wales.

* Setting up and participating in a ‘Five Nations’ outdoor arts network group – with other representatives in the UK – to share news and support each other.

One of the positive outcomes of recent times has been the new connections and ways of working we have experienced. The Five Nations outdoor arts network group is one that has been discussed for a while, so it’s great that it has now formed!

A relatively new group, our focus has been on sharing and support so far, but there are plans to start group work around specific tasks, such as the co-creation of resources and mentoring on business planning… watch this space!

* Communicating our observations and recommendations with the Arts Council of Wales.

With the considerable investments that both Articulture and ACW have made in the development of the outdoor arts movement over the last eight years, Articulture are keen for outdoor arts not to be overlooked during this time, with freelancers who make up the majority of the movement supported.  

Through conversations with artists, producers and other networks we have been able to get some snapshots of the Covid 19 impact on those creatives – mostly freelancers – working in outdoor arts and to feed into ACW as their plans to support arts and culture in Wales continue to be formed and delivered.

Looking forward

As lockdown eases, we continue to connect, support, share and plan for the future.

We feel that the communal and inclusive nature of outdoor arts will be crucial to the healing that society will need to rebuild itself after this crisis, and that working outdoors will become an important and practical option for seeing and making work.

Even though the outdoor arts network here is not yet in a position to have anyone regularly employed, we are committed to keep building on the fantastic growth that the movement has seen here in Wales, as a valuable part of our national artistic identity. With ACW stabilisation funding now in place, in June Articulture will be announcing a six-month programme of new opportunities to support the creation of art in public space moving forward.

Image – The Wales ‘Create in Public Space’ MOOC course group, April 2020

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