Friday, July 1, 2016

New Artists Networks

A look in the mirror!

Our culture and arts industry is constantly evolving. By enlarge our sector is dependent on government investment. The amount in the kitty is never secure and changes with the government agenda. At present the arts industry is suitably unfashionable. To depend solely on arts funding for income if foolish, and no way to found a reliable arts base business.

As artists and arts workers we need a reality check. We can whinge to the cows come home about unfair pay rates, unpaid hours and lack of opportunities or take positive steps to address the gaps in the industry and local community. Inactivity and game blaming isn't, going to put food on our tables.

Luckily for me, I am not the only one in Ipswich who shares this views. . . Opportunities do not just present themselves, we create them. Very rarely does someone knock on the door and offer a job to a stranger.  Yet, as artists sometimes that is way we behave.

Sometimes I just want to get paid for my work.

As being self-employed, which most artist are we forget the first rule of business. "Investment", into the business, very few of friends who own small businesses do not draw a wage in their first year of operation and most of their savings went in to purchasing the business, not only are they not drawing a wage their repaying a loan.  So our first step is to stop thinking we're hard down by due to the industry we chose to work in.

We can do one of two things, continue to fight over every last dollar, or work together so we all earn something.  We need to accept art will not be our sole income.

In Ipswich a few splinter groups, including ArtISability are starting to grumble about establishing better networks and working together to pool resources to market the arts community as a whole. Its a model that works very successfully in other industry, putting us behind the eight ball, but at least we're joining the game.

We at ArtISability see value in working with existing networks as we have in the past with disability sector.  We partnered with ALARA Queensland for  three years and the Ipswich City Council.  Now we want a change in direction so we are seen  purely for our creative abilities.  To do that we need to be part of the arts community. Rather than seeking support from the sidelines.

Thus we are moving from a workshop based program to an arts community who support each other to achieve our own goals through collective marketing and advertising.  This will allow me to offer something I've wanted to do but haven't achieve, give artists the power to chose the skills and art forms they want to participate in.

The network will match artists with tutors and mentors who can best enable them to achieve their nominated goals.  Thus in many ways we are a referral service.  However a network structure allows other artists networks to access our services.

We are a meeting place for those who potentially want to work together.  The good news is individual tutors may chose to run workshops through our service, by access of database for direct marketing.

To ensure the skill base of our artists are growing we will be seeking artists working at national and international level to provide our scholarship mentorships.  This type of opportunities are lacking in the area and not everyone with disabilities can travel as much as I do for training.

So there my (manager's) reasoning behind our rethink and restructure.  We hope to start recruiting in September.

Changing Tides and the NDIS

From July 1, the way we think about supporting people with disabilities and their families change. The National Disability Insurance Scheme is about providing opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in the life of the community. Support or care moves away from a medical model which focuses on the impairments, to a system that supports them to achieve their dreams and aspirations.

People will now have a say in how they are supported and the activities they chose to participate in.  The NDIS is geared towards employment (paid or unpaid) and learning and training.

While respite will continue the way it is funded will look very different.  The way to address aging carers issues is to assist people to be more independent and independently living options as a long term goal. The NDIS will be looking at the most cost effective means to support people to achieve their goals.

Many artists I have worked with over the last three years have a goal to establish their own art practise and sell their work.  Sadly in Ipswich we have thus far fail to promote these artists as 'artists' the drive towards therapy art is strong.

ArtISability has always had a vision to build a social inclusive community through engaging in community classes, workshops and retreats. This is the main reason I am relucent to hire our own space.

Thus we as an arts based program, primarily funded by arts funding is viewed as a disability support provider or a stem of ALARA Queensland.  The fact we are artists in our own right evades all.

The NDIS presents new opportunities and new way of doing things. I get that this is scary . . . But the unknown provokes fear.  If we don't try we have failed before we begin. July 1, presents the prefect opportunity to 'change our strips', and cut tides with 'ability' or 'disability' tags.

To quote one of our ArtISability tutors,

" Once my artwork is hanging on a gallery wall. my disability becomes invisible."

Judith Baker (2014)
Ipswich Poet, Author and Artists

Labels only service to undermine this extremely powerful statement by Judy. Our work at ArtISability has nothing to do with abilities or disabilities. Our work is to work together in the mainstream to build inclusion.

Our new look network system is run for the arts community and our rates will be consistent across the board.  I want to send a clear message to the public - we are artist working together.

Primarily this will not involve workshops, we will act as an agency who supports assists to find the resources the need.  This individual approach is consistent with the mainstream art world and the changing land scrape under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

We're reaching for the stars