“We’re constantly trying to bite off something bigger than we can chew,” said Bruce Goodwin, the Artistic Director of Australia’s Back to Back Theatre, in Wellington to perform in the New Zealand Festival.

Bruce Goodwin and Richard BengeThis week, Bruce and actor Simon Laherty were in an Artist Talk session, chaired by theatre practitioner Jo Randerson.

Bruce said that devising and creating a work went from being a journey of terror (“It’s way too ambitious”) to a journey of curiosity. “In the end, you have to have faith that what you’re doing has some value to society.”

Allowing time for professional development

Working in the not-for-profit sector, it’s easy to bite off more than you can chew and not allow time for long-term planning and professional development. Last week, Arts Access Aotearoa staff attended Exult’s excellent self-management workshop. Led by Kerri Tilby-Price, it provided much useful advice about self-care; managing your workload; setting boundaries; and overcoming procrastination.

Creative Spaces 2020 logoKerri lives and breathes community. I’m pleased she’ll be running two workshops at Arts Access Aotearoa’s national conference, Creative Spaces 2020: building a strong future for the sector.  The first workshop is on sustainable funding, the second on sponsorship and how to partner with businesses.

Kerri joins a great line-up of speakers, workshops and discussions at the conference, to be held from 26 to 28 April. In addition, I’ll be reporting back on a professional development trip to the United States, which I’m undertaking next week. The main reason for the visit is to participate in a five-day immersive residency with artists and managers at AS220, an artist-led creative space in downtown Providence, Rhode Island.

Exploring a social enterprise model

How did a group of artists put down $800 to rent an illegal loft space and end up owning four buildings in Providence, representing an investment of more than $25 million? How do you sustain and grow such a place for more than 30 years?  I’m particularly interested to explore this social enterprise model, which means the organisation can provide free or low-cost programmes and performance spaces for artists and people in the community.

Creative Growth Center in OaklandI also plan to visit the Creative Growth Center in Oakland, California. It’s the world’s oldest and largest art centre for artists with developmental, physical and intellectual disabilities, led by Tom di Maria. A feature of the centre is its collaborations with the professional arts sector, which is in part responsible for the increased market for the artists’ works.

One of the stories in this month’s In Touch is about the Many Hats Theatre Company. The company includes seven performers who attend SkillWise, a Christchurch organisation providing learning opportunities for adults with intellectual disabilities. 

Performing and touring to generate income

The seven actors rehearse every Friday morning at SkillWise with tutor Paul McCaffrey and other professional actors, musicians and theatre technicians. Many Hats is funded through grants but in the future, Paul says he would like to set up the company as a social enterprise, performing and touring to generate income.

There’s just one month to go to get your nominations in for the Arts Access Awards 2016. There are six award categories and I encourage you to make your nominations – whether it’s for an individual artist, a creative space, a community partnership, the Arts Access Creative New Zealand Arts For All Award, or leadership in arts in Corrections.

For more information and nomination forms, visit the website  or contact Claire Noble at Arts Access Aotearoa (T: 04 802 4349 E: claire.noble@artsaccess.org.nz). The deadline for nominations is Monday 11 April.

Biting off more than we can chew


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