Thursday, 11 April 2013

Critical Meeting Space

Meeting, listening, talking - first steps in critical thinking
So what do you mean by critical?  A question artists generally spend a minute or two considering when they meet up - critical we work together, critical of 'art' and what it achieves, and critical that you make these kind of meetings - Birmingham Critical Spaces met for first time (after pilot) on Wednesday 10 April, 2pm to 4.30pm at Ort Cafe.  I'm sure there's a few other criticals - please forward if you have a minute.

This was a first meeting, so not surprising we started with basics, but pretty quickly we were into interesting territory.  Matt 'opened up a can of worms' starting with the New Library of Birmingham and recent project work related to the week long opening festival controversially replacing 'Artsfest' this year.  Is it meeting the needs of Communities?  Where is engagement outside of city centre?  Where is engagement outside the Custard Factory?  How are community libraries involved?  Some of the many questions raised.  Also how many Artists have had meetings with Brian Gambles in the last couple of weeks?

Does money change our language - is there an art to the application form, and how can we present our ideas and meet the needs of 'communities' more accurately?  Tom Jones, Brum's own Community Arts Champion questioned whether it was really possible to separate art from life, the danger of working within institutions, and the risk art supported by institutions of all kinds can become self-(institutionally speaking)-serving.

How can we wrestle significant public spaces from the architects, and their take on 'public art?  Is it the community artists' lot to transform derelict spaces ready for re-development?  We heard from Ort cafe Josie about how the Ort mission has successfully created a vibrant community arts venue and achieved sustainability.

Then there's the big question of artists successfully collaborating rather than competing, of sharing information, issues of open access and trust.  Here's hoping Critical Space - Locally-national network approach will succeed in developing some interesting partnerships.  In Birmingham, it already has.

For more info see

Next meeting Wednesday 5th June 2:00-4:00 location to be confirmed, but if you're missing meeting local artists, check out your local art forum.

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