Takeover post from: Bryony Gillard
Over the past few years, I’ve started to think differently about the shape of my ‘career’ and where I want to be/who I want to work with and I really believe that DIY activity is the future of the visual arts sector. The energy at Jamboree gave me more faith in the potential of artist-led activity and that artists don’t need institutions and cultural gatekeepers.
Because of everything that’s unfolded in 2020 I am somewhere between silently terrified and quietly optimistic about the future of our sector. For real change to happen I acknowledge there has to be massive shifts at a structural, institutional level. However, there have been amazing moments of hope for me this year, in terms of the power and solidarity in artist-led activity, such as the solidarity syndicates initiated by artists to support each other to apply for & (re)distribute the Arts Council Emergency Fund (an initiative started by Keep it Complex @keepitcomplex). I was part of a syndicate and there was a real moment of clarity in realising how we can employ simple strategies like this to support and share opportunities and funding more equally within our communities.
My most positive experiences of presenting work or making projects have been within artist-led frameworks (in terms of supporting my practice, having meaningful collaborations and interactions). I think it’s vital that we invest time in thinking through how we can develop more peer-led frameworks for showing, making, thinking about work, consider different types of economy in order to make these happen and how, as artists, we can support each other better.
Artist-led activity allows us to take control of how/if our work is presented and the circuits of distribution it enters, it allows us to re-think the archaic and dysfunctional structures that are often at play within institutions, to make our own rules and potentially (if we’re being really utopian here) our own value systems.