Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Poetopoly IV

What sort of countywide arts project says it wants to bring every practitioner of the artform in, and make a great big map and heritage/arts trail (50,000 hard copies thereof) linking past, present and commissioning some future artists...and then has a call for entries on a single website, (and briefly on a single Facebook page)...saying we're putting out this call to 'ensure no one is left out' and pastes up the notification on say the 26th of January...with a closing date of the 5th of February...?

With the project starting in June and the 'public' part of the project (?!?) starting summer of the YEAR AFTER! - and all to make a map and build a network, issue some podcasts and 'new writing', a few workshops in schools, do some recordings and readings ...which could all have been done over Facebook and with the aid of organizations like Daisi or Villages in Action...or is already done by Poetcasting or the hundreds of readings organized by groups all over the county... What IS the £50,000 of funding they've netted going to be spent on, one wonders?

Friday, 5 March 2010

Poetopoly/Artsopoly III

Oh it's enough to make anyone cynical. You ring up festivals and they say yeah sounds fine, but sorry we only go through big promoters like.... one who shall remain nameless. (This isn't Private Eye after all.......yet.) And yet the promoter in question is a charity and claims not to be a promoter - in fact they claim to be an arts development agency, and not a booking agent...Do they not realise that they've sewn up many events so that they can no longer be approached by independent smaller organizations and loose confederations of artists? Forget individual artists altogether.
And for all you folks who hope that small zines to big zines to small press chapbooks to poetry publisher spined book is so long and hard that it's better to go for the performance route instead, then well - it's easier in some ways and tougher in others. Certainly applause is easier to come by than payment from zines, and open mikes are all over the place. Some paying gigs (but not anything to write home about) there are too. But of the big festivals, the online application forms are a job in themselves ('be good at admin' is a law of existing in the arts), then there's the big ones you can work your way into by offering them something quirky or something they needed done cheaper and you offered it cheaper...or if you're good at networking (even more important than admin!) getting to hear about who to contact, a name that isn't on the website in question often, lateral searches to find out the buried staff page they don't really want you to find... Some will give in. Some will even make you feel it was all worth it. But don't expect to be paid on time - most think free tickets should easily be enough. Two festivals from last year still owe our group (both of which I also won't name) promised expenses. Then there's the big guns, and if you get a recommendation from someone else, that will help. But some of them - without an agency like Better Chemistry or Plush Entertainment or whoever - and it'll be harder than you imagine.
Even if you do get the gig you were after, don't expect the promoter/festival organizer to turn up and see your shows, they'll be rushed off their feet. And don't expect any thanks unless you're a famous author (lit fests), a well known band (music and mostly-music mixed arts fests), with a well known publishing house/performance agency (poetry fests), or the head of a large company of warriors or soldiers (re-enactment events)...unless you've got to know whoever booked you in the meantime.

Some experiences have been good - of course they have, or I/we wouldn't keep going to stuff each summer/autumn and keep sending out our publicity and info.. But this time of year is when to bother the May to Octobers, just as September is the time to bother the March to June bunch, and I always find it soul-destroying...

We are always angriest on other's behalves - perhaps because we see our own troubles reflected in their own, with pity thrown in. But today I found the website of the artist who first inspired me and made me know for certain what it was I wanted to do (though it took me long enough to figure out how). And he still says that he is waiting to make money. For all that he has given to the many that have seen his shows, that man deserves to live in comfort on his own land for good. And he works harder than I or most artists do, simply because his art involves so many other artforms and hard graft with mechanical engineering.
Life in the arts? Don't even think about it unless you can do no other.