Currently I have acrylic on canvas artwork exhibiting across London. For fifteen months one piece has been on loan via agencies at the Eastern Village in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. I made enquiries about its return and the possibility that more money should come my way as the 15 month contract expires. I received no answers or replies from the irresponsible agencies responsible for my lent art. After many frustrations I finally spoke to someone and after a week received an email from an intern saying I should sign the agreement that my art be part of the arrangement to extend its display without my having a clue as to the amount of rent I’d receive. Strange that. No chance. Show me the money.
Meanwhile heads up to the Claremont Project in Islington and The Mill in E17 who will and do make a call-out for community artists to take up display exhibition opportunities sometimes for a fee and then actually hang up the work and do all the curating. Makes a difference. The Olympic lot pay proper technicians to install any art in those posh flats because Jill Public, her ilk and her hammer and pins are not welcome. Otherwise, community art? DIY art. There are venues where you take along your work and get on with it yourself. I was told at one place to ” Bring a hammer”. You know, you either want community artists sharing their creativity or you don’t. You are a community hub or you are not. The number of times I have stood in front of library assistants while they refused to take their arrogant eyes off their PC screens is disgraceful when I am the artist, the guest in their house just wanting help. I.e “Where are the keys please for the display boards?”
One place in Walthamstow has provision for community artists other than those winning commissions from the council who then get lights and internal walls and flyers. What’s offered is nonsense. It’s an ancient external wall, interior through clever renovation, which is too fragile for sellotape let alone nails. Rather than beat my brains working out how to hang and relying on no-one it was easier to say thanks but no thanks. I did just that and not one employee tried to dissuade me let alone offer commiserations. Eeh, social engagement, community engagement out of the window. Some stuff can sap your energy and screw your positive vibe.
It would be interesting to know there’s a community artist union where isolated creatives can draw strength from each other’s principles. Why would an artist sign a loan agreement without clarity about fees? Stoooopid. I have no fear of being the one artist turfed out because I insist on t&c’s and reasonable money up front. Art is business. And there is no union because community artists do not blow each other’s trumpets…..because art is business. If artists had an eye out for each
other agents representing International Women’s Day (remember that?) would not have harped on about the fact that women artists are invisible. Tell that to women artists who could have changed that years ago.
I support outwardly artists in my community but I am not feeling the love. I promote them so that they are approachable as representatives of a world not familiar to many who still have to engage with elite lauded establishment art. Don’t judge me: it works.
‘Bread and circuses” it is.