A Diverse Artist Network Agency has now been established in Bristol. The focus will primarily be on the wellbeing of artists. The network aims to connect and engage collaboration between artists of the city.
Bristol is renowned as an eclectic, culturally diverse and musical city, full of artistic talent from all walks of life. Officially, 92 languages are spoken in Bristol – a huge amount. This is apt, as Bristol itself means ‘meeting place at the bridge’. The city is therefore a true metropolis; this does, however, create sustainability challenges in the arts world. This is where the DA Network hopes to make a meaningful contribution, in working alongside artists to create employment opportunities and explore creative collaborations, while keeping an updated artists registry.
On 4 May 2017, a well-attended meeting was held at the Trinity Centre, which was the third gathering of this kind. There was much excitement as people explored and shared ideas. The intention was to establish if this is what artists needed and wanted, to explore the options available and establish an artist network, agency or both. The process has been guided by the Tribe of Doris collective and supported by community interest companies and arts collectives from all over Bristol.
Some of the artist and industry professionals had extremely positive comments to make.
Richie Bryan said: “We saw a gap in the rich community of artists that live in Bristol. We knew it would be a good idea to connect the different arts professionals. Artists today need to know that they are valued as individuals and encouraged to share and support each other. Sometimes we can work in isolation for the money, yet gatherings like this can remind us why we do what we do. It’s about building and finding a community.”
Kirsten Cree and Clare Karslake of Arnolfini stated: “There’s a recognised lack of representation in mainstream art and media. We are here to connect to more people as an organization. People know and understand what they need and we want to understand what role Arnolfini can play.”
Latisha Cesar, Artist said: “Today matters – it is giving visibility to artists who might not be visible. We can build a platform for ourselves now, which once seemed so difficult. It feels like a family. Collaboration helps improve one’s craft – I hope we will have more days like today.”
However, despite this positive movement, the socioeconomic landscape keeps changing. Funding toward the arts is not prioritized. Many creative enterprises, arts businesses, community centres and schools are impacted by austerity, which means ever-shrinking work opportunities for artists. The importance of such an institution cannot be underestimated, as many artists have a desire to share their gifts. Artists are the life breath of this city, crucial in sustaining morale.
Appreciation was expressed towards the Watershed, Arnolfini and Trinity Centre, who provided their spaces for free to host the development of this cultural initiative.
To get involved, visit http://www.tribeofdoris.co.uk/diverse-artist-network/