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Supercritical Mass – International Residencies and innovation in the arts

5 Aug

Following our own positive experiences of residencies at the end of 2011 we started experimenting with a view to developing a Curated Place residency programme for artists wanting to work in the UK. Developing relationships with both venue and creative partners in Manchester we sought to introduce international talents to the North of England to both contribute to and learn from the strong arts sector here.

The Supercritical Mass projects of Australian artists Luke Jaaniste and Julian Day was a real highlight. Developed over two residency periods we initially hosted SuperCritical Mass for a mini-residency in November 2011. Working closely with the music department at the University of Salford and with the artists communities in Islington Mill we delivered a masterclass and artists talk to students before devising and delivering two performances in the University and in the nearby Peel Park.

This short 5 day residency was inspired by innovation development models of quick hit, low cost, managed risk projects and intended as a proof of concept performance. We very deliberately developed the format to develop the profile of the project for participants and funders alike. It worked.

Creating high quality documentation of the pilot which we could distribute widely and being able to very clearly state how we would scale the project up we received significant funding from Sound and Music to develop the second phase of the residency programme – hosting the artists for two weeks as part of the FutureEverything festival 2012 to deliver one of the most ambitious Supercritical Mass projects to date – a vocal performance at Manchester Cathedral.

A huge success for artists, participants and audiences alike we were able to learn a lot about how high-quality residency programmes can be delivered in the UK and we’re now in a position to expand our own residency programme to become a more formal international artist exchange – but with a twist. Rather than simply inviting artists to work in a creative vacuum we’ll be insisting that visiting artists work in collaboration with local participants who will then make a reciprocal residency visit to our international partners to develop the projects on an international platform.

Tomorrow we’ll be formally launching the new Curated Place site which will outline the programme and how it will work. If you’re a mid-career artist, with experience of exhibitions and commissions in the UK and interested in participating sign up to our Facebook and Twitter feeds for the latest and for ways to apply when we launch.

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British Council Cultural Leadership International Programme – building international links and inspiring a new Curated Place residency programme

2 Aug

In October 2011 I was lucky enough to be taken to Istanbul by the British Council as part of their CLI programme.  From over 180 applications seven of us from the UK were taken to Turkey with the aim “to engage the new generation of cultural leaders around the world in the discussion and development of common strategies to tackle global cultural issues”.

The seven of us taken from the UK were Haidee Bell, Innovation Programmes Manager, Creative Economy, NESTADaniel Gorman, Director, Firefly InternationalRohan Gunatillake, Lead Producer, Edinburgh Festivals Innovation Lab, (now Sync) ; Karena Johnson, CEO/Artistic Director, The BroadwayLaura McDermott, Joint Artistic Director, Fierce FestivalElhum Shakerifar,  Creative Producer, Postcode Films; and me

The programme revolved around two key areas: management and leadership development. On the one hand the programme focussed on developing core cultural management skills of participants, through quite traditional seminars and workshops. However, where most people found most benefit was through the chance to get to know their peers – all emerging cultural leaders looking to develop their international exposure and experience.

Alongside my participation in the programme Curated Place also sent out a documentation crew to capture the ideas behind the events.  Again we sought not simply to capture digital footage that was relevant only to people around the immediate time of the events but to interrogate the experience and knowledge of those involved in the programme – both presenters and the remarkable CLI participants.

By filming more intimate discussions with interviewees, instead of simply capturing raw footage of scripted conference presentations, we wanted to get a personal insight into the professional worlds of those in and around the CLI programme – creating a resource that would give longer term insight into what connections could be made from the programme across international arts communities rather than just those within the room.  By ensuring these videos and that knowledge was available to anyone with an internet connection we aimed to dramatically increase the impact of the programme and the longevity of the investment made over the week of the programme.

Later this year as part of the programme I’ll be travelling to the middle east to establish new reciprocal residency programmes for UK artists and curators to develop collaborative projects with local artists at a similar point in their career – seeking to extend their creative horizons out of the regional and national to an international programme.  All of it building on the insight and relationships started by CLI in Istanbul.  More on this next week…but if you’re desperate to know follow us on Facebook and Twitter to hear the latest.

From Counting Sheep to Finnegan’s Wake: The Dawn Of Digital Thinking – micro documentary and live events

1 Aug


Something a bit more digital from the Curated Place archive – a piece we developed off the back of our work on the 2011 Future Everything festival.

Wanting to get away from dry documentation of events that so often ends up as digital landfill, lacking impact after the event, we developed an idea for series of films taking highlights of the festival into an abstract micro-documentary format that would prime our audiences for the next festival.

Giving a teasing insight into the artwork showcased at the preceding festival and synopsising the ideas that were discussed, we developed a format for a marketing campaign that was built around a series of five short interlinked films – each of a duration that responded to how people actually digest digital media.  By building a story about the broader impact and concept of the festival we aimed to create a sense of anticipation around 2012 using more than just advertising budget alone.  Simultaneously we wanted to create a more usable resource from the footage captured in previous incarnations of the conference by giving some order and rationale to the archive and presenting a way in to the often jargon-filled world of digital culture.

The first film featured highlights from interviews carried out with Chris Speed and Bill Thompson exploring the dawn of digital thinking and the impacts for society as a whole. Far from just been about the technology it shows how the digital revolution changes how we think, act and relate to one another. Although abstract the teaser film was linked to the source interviews – all carried out with a clear vision and purpose as part of a medium-term strategic plan to develop the documentation and distribution of the festival’s resources – along with a curated digital resource pack.

Although only ever rolled out as a pilot/proof of concept at Future Everything we’ve now developed a solid format for for turning the documentation of one-off events into a resource that reaches beyond established audiences and will be something you’ll be able to see us extend on the new Curated Place site (from Monday) around our work on this year’s Liverpool Biennial.


An example of the source footage from Chris Speed where he expands his ideas outlined in the micro-doc. We wanted to hook people in with a brief film then give them access to more in-depth content.

Gary Thompson – A Celebration of his Work

19 Dec

Naomi Kendrick remembers Gary Thompson who tragically passed away last week.

Dead rabbit – a blog: Gary Thompson – A Celebration of his Work.

Link

Andrew Brooks prints available for Christmas

12 Dec

Last couple of days for UK orders of Andrew Brooks prints if you would like them before Christmas, all the images are available in Andrew Brooks’ Shop.

Show & Tell November 2011 | Cornerhouse

24 Nov

This Saturday head down to Cornerhouse from 4pm to 6pm to get  a taste of what’s happening in the minds of some of the city’s best leftfield innovators.

Bringing together Manchester’s visual arts community and the thriving digital design sector in a playful and informal setting Show and Tell invites ten artists and designers to make lightning-quick presentations about a current project, experiment or source of inspiration. The only rule – it mustn’t be something from the day job.

This time around our speakers are a mix of invited people, nominations from previous speakers and open spots that you can offer to fill.

The line-up includes:

Cherry Tenneson ‘Artist-informant-cartographer’ of redundant objects and information. Often seen documenting crumbs and plastic at an everyday desk top.

Michael Trainor founder of Pop Empires, Art makers and commissioners of art and events.

Richard Schofield from weareboy, 3D guys in Manchester serving the creative industries with still and animated 3D CGI, video, and all things ‘motionified’.

Mark Jermyn and Sally Gilford from one69a, a creative collective who specialise in screen printing, run educational workshops and run live screen printing sessions at events.

Mishka Henner Belgian born photographer whose recent work included No Man’s Land and recipient of the world’s smallest photography award! which seeks to emphasise the importance of coincidence, grace and humility in photography.

Amanda Bellantara from Kinokokophone, an artist collective that collects and composes sounds, stories and imagery from around the world.

Filmmaker, creator and compere extraordinaire Maria Ruban.

Plus more to be announced – including YOU!

The ideal way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Following the first event we’ve responded to your requests to include open spots and there will be two available at this event for anyone who wants to present a cool, interesting project they are working on if you’re a designer please remember to focus on personal projects rather than pitching company work.

A collaboration between Cornerhouse and FutureEverything

via Show & Tell November 2011 | Cornerhouse.

Just back from British Council CLI Programme in Istanbul

30 Oct

Lost in Istanbul
The last week has been a real eye-opener.  Even with everything Curated Place taking off in the last year (hence the quietness of the blog) getting out of the UK to meet with cultural leaders from around the world has truly been a career highlight.

Over 5 days an incredible group of 47 participants selected by the British Council from 18 countries discussed the power and worth of cultural policy, the impact of culture on society and the opportunities afforded to cultural practices by digital technologies.  I was one of the participants but I also worked with the superb filmmaker Maria Gabriella of LittleStar and social media expert Jenny Jones to document the whole programme in a format developed by Curated Place and LittleStar that we’ll be rolling out across the arts and cultural world later this year (get in touch for more details if you’re doing an event and want it professionally covered with more panache than a corporate sales pitch).

Some on-the-fly films and audio are already available but we’ll be producing more lyrical mood pieces over the next two weeks that completes the package as a useable resource post-event.  Here’s a link to Audioboos with participants, and you can see some of the films here. Should give a hint at where we’re going with it.

Josephine Burns, BOP Consulting at Cultural Leadership International, Istanbul from British Council Arts on Vimeo.

The full list of CLI participants is on the British Council website and it makes for impressive reading but meeting these impressive people in the flesh exceeded my already sky-high expectations.  With a professional development programme to implement over the next year I’m extremely excited to capitalise on the networks created and the friendships started in Istanbul.  My head is still spinning from the whole experience but somehow I’ve got back to the UK with a remarkable clarity about the possibilities and the priorities I need to focus on over the next 12 months.

Thanks to all CLI participants.  2012 is going to be incredible.

Tamara Takishvili at Cultural Leadership International, Istanbul from British Council Arts on Vimeo.

Salwa Mikdadi, Head of Arts and Culture Program at Emirates Foundation from British Council Arts on Vimeo.

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