Friday 08 February 2019 – Tuesday 31 December 2019
Image credit: FLAM 2018 graphic recording drawn by Emma Paxton
The first For Love and Money (FLAM) Conference for creatives was held at Ashcroft Arts Centre in Fareham, Hampshire on Thursday 25 January 2018. Karen Howse and Vicky Jones report...
After a car, train and foot trek across the country to the FLAM conference, I was given a whistle stop tour of the arts landscape of the area. The FLAM organisers did a great job in gathering key makers and shakers of networking and fundraising. Susan Mumford, director of ‘Be Smart About Art’ standing out as someone with a sound, upbeat perspective on arts funding. Other luminaries included Gordon Dalton from VASW, Claire Tilley, Director of Philanthropy at Arts Council England, crowdfunding expert Chris Buckingham and James Gough from Culture Southampton, with representatives from Artists Newsletter, Artist’s Union England, School for Social Entrepreneurs, CVAN South East and many more.
There was a speed networking feel to the day which kept the pace up, but after my 5am start to get the train from Cornwall, I began to flag by mid afternoon and would have welcomed listening to a speaker with visuals and time for an in-depth discussion. This was my only criticism of the day; the speakers were of such quality that fewer speakers talking for longer may have been a better use of their skills.
The breakout session in the afternoon was rushed but interesting. I took part in the ‘Telling Your Story Workshop’ with Debs Carter of Touch Network. It gave me a chance to talk to some of the other delegates, get to know them and find out why they were there. We actively listened to each other’s stories and filled in a form with headings like, ‘the people who benefit from my work are...’ and ‘the message I want the listener to go away with is...’ I found this a surprisingly useful exercise and met a reverse glass artist, a muralist and a craftivist.
Graphic recorder Emma Paxton drawing key ideas in the lecture theatre throughout, was a nice touch. Strangely for an arts event, there was little other visual content. Business cards were swapped and collected, until I had run out of mine and began sharing other people’s! One highlight in the last 10 minutes, was having a glass of wine with a lovely group of artists from the South East. One ceramicist hosts a land art event at her woodland. Another artist runs walking/drawing events in the South East. Her practice had so much in common with my own that we are determined to meet up and explore the possibility of collaborating.
So I have realised Networking doesn’t have to be difficult, you just need the right conditions. In order to build a sustainable art practice, we need networks: the ability to ‘ask for help with gratitude’ (Amanda Palmer) has never been more necessary. Dan Thompson from A-N was distributing the excellent ‘Paying Artists Manifesto’ with the slogan ‘Artists working together make the world around them better.’ I need conferences like FLAM to remind me of this as I continue to practise art myself and encourage others to do so in this uncertain world. We are indeed stronger together.
Karen Howse, Artist Explorer
FLAM proved the ambitious vision and commitment for creative and collaborative projects among arts organisations and networks. The line-up of speakers was a great representation of the initiatives and support in project and business development in the arts, providing valuable insight and inspiration. The conference with its specialists, partners and participants created a sense of positive energy and informed direction for attendants. This was important to independent artists and museum professionals like myself, offering reassurance of a network of likeminded creatives, of future potential and of approaches to unleashing aspiring projects.
It was helpful to gain more of an understanding of what aspects might need strengthening, whether public promotion, funding, campaigning, social media, online presence or planning and collaboration. The expert speakers and breakout sessions provided useful information and boosted our confidence. Ideas and uncertainties were addressed, identifying steps of action towards realising conceived projects. The conference gave the opportunity to share experiences and objectives, galvanising the support for the arts.
As an independent, self-taught and early career artist and arts educator, this conference was a unique opportunity to learn from others’ expertise and experiences. It was an inspiring chance to hear ideas, gain feedback, make speculative proposals and investigate collaborative possibilities.
FLAM, CiC and VASW are laudable proponents of the creative environment in England and I hope they continue to offer initiatives and networks for artists, arts organisations and practitioners in the region. I know I’m not the only one who is most grateful!
Friday 08 February 2019 – Tuesday 31 December 2019
Stonehenge Visitor Centre, Amesbury, Wiltshire SP4 7DE
Friday 24 May 2019 – Sunday 24 November 2019
Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Queen Street, Exeter, Devon, EX4 3RX
Tuesday 18 June 2019 – Sunday 15 March 2020
Working towards a South West where talented artists thrive, and a resilient and connected visual arts ecology that inspires more engaged and diverse audiences to value and advocate for its work.
Part of the Contemporary Visual Arts Network