We’re asking artists to stretch their practice and do something different, so it’s hardly surprising if they have a wobble. The wobbles are as varied as the artists and encompass everything from idea generation to how to actually start a conversation with communities.

Written by – Jo McLean, The Touring Network June 2018

BRAW is, by its nature, about stretch and taking people out of their comfort zones in order to make change. Stepping out of our comfort zone is something we are often asked to do in order to continue developing. I’ve noticed that we’re quite good at talking about it, but often less good at actually doing it.  

The milestone meeting in June (2018) was a chance for the entire team to reconvene, reconnect and share experiences to date.  The discussion was authentic, heartfelt and at times provocative. The 3 artists taking part are very different in terms of their starting positions, points of reference, and thought processes. But despite the respectful and sometimes ‘fluffy’ arts context, none were not afraid to give opinions or explore difficult territory.  

BRAW is difficult.

The process of being open and collaborative with people you neither know, choose or perhaps even like requires a belief and trust in your own practice. But we’re asking artists to stretch their practice and do something different. So it’s hardly surprising if they have a wobble.  The wobbles are as varied as the artists and encompass anything from idea generation, to how to actually start a conversation with communities. Despite the programme’s openness, it requires a firm structure. And, as with most free flowing things, a solid container is essential to avoid spillage and leakage. Providing this container is our job. This is a learning experience for me to. How do I provide the safe container?  At times it feels more like a wobbly pot on the potters wheel.  

Throughout the process to date, I have found myself feeling anxious and uncomfortable as I see artists and promoters grappling to hold this project and understand the concept and outcomes.  

We are pretty much always outcome led. We feel safe when we understand what we’re aiming for

So I begin to question myself when I’m unable to give answers to the questions asked of me. What are the outcomes? What are we trying to prove? Well the answer is, we’re not trying to prove anything, but we are questioning whether deeper, more meaningful artistic experiences are created through relationships and co-creation.  

There are no target audience numbers. No specific marketing strategies. 

But we will be building relationships and understanding.  And we will be asking artists to write an intentionality statement about their work. Not an academic blurb about process; a human piece of writing about what they intend the audience to think and feel.  

How does artistic vibrancy become tangible?  

The answer is with the audiences. 

Photo taken by Lisa Baxter at Cove Park Jan 2018

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