Convener: Rose English
Participants: Margaret Sheehy, Mark Mulqueen, Rose English, Bill gee, Lucia Smith, Jill Shellly, Kat Joyce, Violaime Bailleul and Lina Jungergard.
Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:
What is World Class? Is it International? Are the facilities world class? Is it the funding or the expectation around the produced work?
What are the exisiting creation spaces in London? An individual artist’s home studio is often a creative centre to develop ideas, but needs actual space and infrastructural support to realise practically the ideas conceived in private space.
The National Theatre Studio allows work to happen without any expectation of what that work is!
If the expectation is that work created is world class automatically puts pressure on artists and reduces risk taking?
Is London a ‘Creation Centre’ already? One big centre with lots of little centres! Is it a network of creation centres (studios, minds, buildings)and if so is this question less about where a centre would be physically located and more about how the centres get linked together?
A future culture of greater interdisciplinarity could harness existing creative structures to realise ambitious interdisciplinary ideas.
Key difficulty is that organisations have focussed on delivering their own vision and do not have space for interdisciplinary/organisational work!
Discussion about the pressure of artists run spaces – viable for some years, but onerous in the long term. Example: Area 10 Creation Centre houses artists from many disciplines.
A list was made of existing creation spaces across artforms and scales (see below). How are they used by artists and do they interconnect?
Are empty buildings or buildings that could be used, such as Stratford Town Hall etc or all town halls possible creation spaces?
These are usually for hire – around £2,000 a day 0- so are off budget for most artists.
But the same is true of many spaces that purport to be for artists, but where is reality few artists are able to work.
Discussion about the economics of running a building and the management infrastructures to keep them open often marginalises the use of the building by artists and instead prioritises management and administration facilities.
It’s important that we look at the culture of the space not just the space being physically possible. The space has to be held so that what is latent and emergent can bear fruit as a creation centre.
There are two levels: bricks and mortar and the creative thing within it.
Rose talked about organisations lashing themselves together to weather economic storms which can result in an unwieldy megastructure that can verge on the point of collapse.
Work which is marginalised, smaller work from the existing creative institutions?
Where do people make work of some scale?
Bill said Emergency Exit Arts dedicated Carnival Space
- Vary outside London with no ?distractions
- access to buildings like Trinity Buoy Wharf works because Eric Reynolds is interested in the arts although it is a commercially-run enterprise with an Art element: interested in Bill’s work in shipping containers specifically.
- Does outside work require a volume of space that’s covered eg procession for Manchester Festival. Carnival uses dedicated volumes of space,
Logistics are important on the large scale. A great deal of energy and creativity goes into logistics. Often have to work in shitty spaces and be creative around finding spaces. Need to be able to work at height with cranes, need a space with the right temperature and the right conditions. Network is brought up again.
Is the work we make constrained by the spaces we have to use? Does our work expand to fit the space we have (eg Rio Sambadrome)
In the creation space artists learn from each other and develop ideas through one another. This network is central to the idea of a creation space.
The work we create is of the scale of the spaces we have.
On e can long for an infrastructure and seek it elsewhere – the work made can then be difficult to present in London
Animatronics: how the animatronics field developed out of a group of disparate creatives and Jim Henson factory was discussed.
Networks were discussed as ‘Creation Centres’ in themselves. – do some building already have a network?
The place needs to be a ‘home for the family of outdoor arts makers to use. It’s the spirit of the building that’s essential.
Buildings are only as good as the infrastructures and management that run the, .
There’s grave doubt about the value of buildings as solutions following the haemorrages of money that went into buildings during the Lottery heyday.
There was a discussion about the difficulty of artist-run buildings; buildings are demanding and artist time gets used up by logistics and admin.
How do we ensure that a Creative Centre is primarily for artists and creatives rather than buildings that purport to be for artists but are often empty of artists because of the raft of admin and management.
Shunt were discussed – they’ve learned a huge amount of building management experience running the Vaults which has been a huge learning curve which shouldn’t be lost. But it should have been made easier for them!
Proposed that it would be helpful to write up a list of existing networks and buildings to see what exists currently and where the gaps are. Sometimes these overlap.
This included broader types of networks: venue networks, companies/collectives, projects, festivals, academic networks, artists and their collaborators – as well as specific networks: ISAN, D+D, Arts Admin, Without Walls, Resonance FM, Young Vic Young Directors, Artist company Development centre, National Dance Network, Live Art Development Agency, Spread the Word, ACE, Stratford cultural forum, Shooting People, London Musicians Collective.
It was suggested that certain themes are developing in relation to the idea of a cultural centre:
Phelim brought up the example of the Dome, starting out as a place to exhibit the best of creative work, but it got bent out of shape in the execution.
The effect of the demand of the Dome show turning Circus space from a creative institution to an educational one – plus and minuses for this change were felt.
What was the legacy of the Dome on those 150 performers – it would be really interesting in ten years to look at what happened to all the graduates of Circus Space who went into the Dome show.
Discussion of legacies - legacies are beautiful things but funding shouldn’t rely on being able to plan them before the project has even begun.
There was a discussion of the consultations about a Creative Centre over the past 10 years, encompassing Hastings, Medway, Chatham, 3 Mills, University of Kent, Thurrock (ROH) – the feeling was that despite multiple planned starts, none of these will happen because the money is not available.
Discussions were had about the political culture that supports the French system – effective and fruitful but heavily subsidised.
French system works because artists are paid to rehearse – when govt. attempted to change this, artists went on strike and festivals were cancelled, with huge consequence to related tourism industry, and govt relented.
‘Intermittente’ system – different to UK
Also in France there was a deliberate de-centrification of Creative Centres.
The UK’s National Dance agency was proposed as perhaps being an equivalent system?
Did the culture of indigenous street arts in the UK get dissipated and marginalised during the Industrial revolution?
There was a general discussion about the differences in power structures in France before we broke for lunch.
LIST OF GENERAL, NOT NECESSARILY IDEAL, CREATION CENTRES IN LONDON:
Trinity Buoy Wharf;
Artists own and home studios
Jacksons Lane (mulitifunctional)
Police St, Deptford
Kings Place + University of the Arts
Siobhan Davies Studios
Limehouse Town Hall
Stratford Town Hall??
Blackheath Concert Halls + Trinity School of Music
Southbank Centre? – Artists in residences
Dedicated Carnival Spaces
Theatre Royal Stratford East
Quens Theatre, Hornchurch
Chisenhale Dance Space
People Show Studios
Young Vic Young Directors
Artist & Company Deel (?) Centre
National Dance Network
Live Art Development Agency
Spread the Word
ACE (Arts Jobs)
Stratford Cultural Forum
London Musicians Collective
Companies and Collectives
Projects like Big Dance
Artist and their collaborators
Circus Development Agency