Across 2014-2015 I’m exploring some key ideas in artistic leadership: those that can foster a confident, ambitious Australian culture with artists at the forefront of our public spaces.
Over two decades, my practice has created provocations and constraints for artists, collaboratives and organisations that stimulate ideas, promote risk-taking and generate innovative work in public spaces. These artistic frameworks have grown in scope from experimental and spatial exploration works, to artworks transforming regional towns. Works of scale both respond to and create their public spaces. They offer artists enormous scope within complex constraints, and importantly, they offer vital opportunities to stimulate advocacy well beyond audience development. This is crucial to Australia’s future as we engage meaningfully with our environmental and economic challenges to develop inspiring, sustainable regional and urban places. With thanks to the support of the Australia Council’s Artistic Leadership fund, I will engage deeply with global artistic leaders, present critical workshops, expose my thinking to rigorous critique, attend seminars and undertake mentorship. My project: Public space, public voice: artistic leadership for impactful projects and advocacy.
My focus is on public space – sited and distributed works of scale – as well as public voice – vocal, articulate and well-distributed arts advocacy. The project includes:
- A brief residency at Grizedale Arts, UK, working with Director, Adam Sutherland. Grizedale Arts has a long-term program on an extensive site, yet aims to distribute artistic thinking beyond its region. There, I will participate in a roundtable on regional artistic frameworks with dozens of leading practitioners and representatives from Arts Council England. I will meet artists, engage in observation and critique, and be an active member of village life, immersing in the complexities of the rural situation, which is the Grizedale philosophy. As we go, Adam and I will discuss and critique facilitation, negotiation and deep engagement for sited and distributed works;
- Interviewing some of the UK’s most impactful public space practitioners (e.g. Greyworld, one of the world’s most significant public space practitioners working largely in the urban space with a focus on play, whose Clockwork Forest is in Grizedale), developing a case study approach to artistic, financial and operational negotiations and risks for works of scale;
- A brief stay in the Swiss canton of Valais, working closely with Jean Maurice Varone, Director, Air & Art Foundation. Together, we will workshop in detail the next iteration of his whole-of-village artwork series in Vercorin, which had been an inspiration for my framing of Regional Arts Victoria’s Small Town Transformations. I will attend the latest édition Vercorin, Arrêt sur Images, and develop some thinking together with Jean Maurice for the next édition. We will continue to unpack «la médiation culturelle» which describes the relationship between the public and the artistic project, and create a mentorship plan around creative entrepreneurship at large scale;
- Meetings, site visits or researches with leading European public artists working at audacious scale (e.g. Les Frères Chapuisat, Felice Varini) at Bex&Arts 2014 triennial Émergences, building my case study approach;
- Attending and presenting at the world’s most targeted focus on arts advocacy, the Americans for the Arts annual convention, to be held in Chicago in 2015. There, I will meet a thousand passionate arts people, as well as meeting CEO Robert Lynch, with whom I will already have engaged in critique of my Distributed Advocacy project;
- Correspondences and hopefully travels to Japan to attend the Echigo-Tsumari Triennial, one of the world’s largest distributed public art events held over hundreds of square kilometres, and comprising of works on sites negotiated through extended negotiations with hundreds of private property owners;
- Plenty of writing, mind-mapping and drawing, both here on my blog and privately, as I continue to articulate the convergences and divergences among my artistic passions, coming to new understandings on what constitutes (my) artistic leadership;
- Public implementation of my learnings through up to three presentations across Australia, including at Arts & Edges, the 2014 Regional Arts Australia Summit in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
As an artistic as well as a professional development, the scope of this project is both public and private. I’ll be using the ARTISTIC LEADERSHIP category on this blog to document my trajectory, recording and reflecting on new questions and new approaches.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.
IMAGE: My floor plan of the Regional Arts Victoria office, front section, during an afternoon’s free reflection activity as part of our ongoing commitment to supporting individual creative and professional development.