When I applied for Navigating the Now I was excited to meet other individuals who were passionate about working with and creating for young people. But to be honest when the initial email came out I felt terrified and intimidated to be included on a list with some of these artists. I know that I am seen within the sector as first and foremost a producer. And the skills I have in being a producer are ones I’m very proud of – my time management, ability to problem solve and love of Excel are all things that have made me able to do various jobs over the years! But when I’m asked to define myself creatively I usually start to mumble and look down which is why looking at my name on a list of creators across Scotland that I admire was a tad terrifying. Did I even count as an artist? Would I be able to reflect on my practice? Is my work with communities as valued as other forms of performance? But as soon as Luke’s set of postcards came through my door I relaxed instantly. These cards took me through ways of thinking about myself and my practice that I’d never had time to do before. And by being in the comfort of my own home office (well…living room corner!) I could stick up a question for a few days on the whiteboard above my desk to ponder. And most importantly I could come to answer: Yes I am an artist. Yes I do have a practice to reflect on. And Yes art with communities is just as important as any other.
One of the prompts in this pack of cards that has stuck with me was about defining our passions and things that perplexed us. I was interested particularly where these things interlinked. One of which was ‘connecting without competition’. It is something I feel strongly about and think collaborative working is key but am also highly aware of competition for funding, time, space etc that come with working in the arts. It is something I managed to speak about with my small group and through that discussion I managed to come up with some key learnings that I will take forward to try and make this passion a reality:
Application Processes – Making sure I create an environment that others want to be a part of, keep applications simple, offer support without it being complicated or stigmatised.
Function & Care - Making sure that meetings (especially online ones) aren't just functional for the purposes of the project but have an element of caretaking within them both for myself and other collaborators.
The Words I Use - Do they always say what I mean or am I just using words that were on a funding application or that sound good? Get words from the people involved. And if I've said something will be 'socially engaged' or based on 'community' unpack HOW and WHY and for WHOSE BENEFIT.
But our conversations went beyond our work and our interests in art to include political experiences, grief, changes in living situations or families and more. This to me not only led to me questioning how I work with others to offer things such as childcare or support artists of colour but also heightened to me the importance of connection with other artists in the field on a personally as well as a professional level.
I was also able to speak to my group about this imposter syndrome feeling that I experience and it was reassuring to hear that others experience the same emotions. It made me consider when will I think I have ‘Made It’ or ‘Successful’ and perhaps there is never an end goal – I am now trying to live in a state of adapting and creating and reflecting rather than striving for something out with myself.