On Thursday 25th January I attended For Love And Money (FLAM) 2018 - a new conference created to enable artists and organisations to fund their projects and build stronger and more resilient networks.
The event was presented by Live Art Local at Ashcroft Arts Centre, supported by Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy and a-n, Be Smart About Art, VASW & Making Space were the creative partners. For more information about the event click here.
The day long event was split into 4 parts and we heard from a range of speakers:
1. Introduction to current networks
Chris Cudlip (Artists' Union England), Gordon Dalton (VASW), Oliver Sumner (CVAN South East), Dan Thompson (A-N) & Susan Mumford (Be Smart About Art).
2. Growing Networks, Growing Communities
James Gough (Culture Southampton), Lynne Dick (Making Space) & Mike Hoskin (The Arts Development Company).
3. Money, Money, Money
Chris Buckingham (a crowdfunding expert and author), Sandie Davis (SSE Hampshire), James Shea (Arts Consultant) & Clare Titley (Director of Philanthropy at ACE).
4. Social Media / Telling Your Story / Public Speaking
Dan White (Department of Ability) / Debs Carter (Creator of Touch Network) / Solent Speakers.
Key pointers / quotes I took away from the event
Susan from Be Smart About Art told us to "Participate, Connect, Grow" and "build trusting relationships". She encouraged us to continue to grow and participate in more events like the one we were at.
Dan from A-N told us to "invest in our own professional development".
Oliver from CVAN South East told us to collaborate with organisations we may think be our competition. He told us to "give give give", "give information" and "promote other organisations".
James Gough from Cultural Southampton told us that "being a connector is part of our creativity".
Lynne from Making Space told us to review our networks and question them. "Are they useful? Are they inclusive?" Lynne rightly reminded the FLAM audience that if you are constantly working within the same bubble than there really isn't any point to it. And I'm so glad she said it. We need to continually review the circles we are working with and continually question and challenge them. All too often, in my opinion, does the art scene become cliquey, elitist and inaccessible.
2. Growing Networks, Growing Communities
How do you successfully grow a support network? What works? What doesn't?
Mike from The Arts Development Company (TADC) talked about a network TADC have formed over the years called DAT (Dorset Arts Together). DAT isn't a constituted network or organisation, it works completely on a voluntary basis and the organisations that are a part of DAT meet quarterly. Mike used his 10 minutes to share with us the lessons he's learnt from DAT.
These are the lessons that stood out to me:
You must immediately establish some ground rules
You must let the participants know the reason for being there and how much time and capacity the meetings will take. Transparency is key.
Important traits for collaborations are: patience, humility & curiosity
You must be active
The participating organisations must be active. There must be active meetings. You must actively listen. You must actively work together. For any collaboration to work each party must be an active cog in a collective wheel.
Don't decide the outcome before a meeting has begun
Generate a collaborative workspace within your network / organisation / team
Mike spoke about how TADC is an employee led organisation. This means each member of the team has their own currency within the organisation and is able to suggest and come up with creative ideas.
Meet face to face
"You cannot collaborate digitally. You cannot collaborate from sending an email". Mike stressed that people need to talk to each other in a space together to generate good ideas.
Mike closed his presentation by saying "We need to be people focussed organisations". And to that I wholeheartedly agree. I clapped and felt like he deserved a standing ovation. I didn't give him one.
I took the Q&A time to question Mike:
How does TADC account for / overcome individuals / organisations lack of time, capacity and money when working with / creating an informal voluntary network?
He replied with "ACE funded organisations need to take leadership. They need to take responsibility and lead these meetings". Again I agreed. But perhaps more so our bridge organisations rather than any ACE funded organisation. I tried to imagine local NPO's taking on this task... But capacity, even within local NPO's is very tight. Perhaps ACE needs to include a strand of funds for our NPO's to run artist networks?
We heard from a whole range of speakers. All of them telling us to connect, to grow, to participate, to integrate, to travel, to attend etc. And to do these things means to volunteer our time. To create sustainable relationships, partnerships and connections we must volunteer our time.
It seems to be a constant balancing act. And the question I asked Mike seems to stick to me. How do we overcome that? How can we overcome lack of time, capacity and money?
How can we sustain ourselves when half our job is voluntary? To make valuable connections and artworks takes time. To create quality outputs we must volunteer our time to make it so. Will the arts sector always be this way? Is it the same in other sectors?
“We’re creative people so we have a lot of hats. We do a lot of things - it’s natural. It’s not only because it’s natural it’s also because it’s necessary” - Susan Mumford, Be Smart About Art.
As artists / producers / creatives we take on multiple roles. We do this so our work is sustainable. So we can make a living. We do our jobs for the love and have to take on more work for the money. How can we factor in time to create quality connections? I'm not sure I found the answer at this event.
The things I did learn were inspiring and helpful. But they are things that will take up time, time that isn't paid. But we're doing it for the love, right? Not the money.