May Update: Conversations with Aldershot

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In the last post I started to think about what I have learnt so far. In several of the conversations I have been having with local organisations I had to start being clear with myself about what the project aims are. A tricky task when you are researching and developing just that!

So where do I fit in, in Rushmoor? Where can Statements in Semaphore fit into all this?

1: DO NOT JUST REPLICATE WHAT IS ALREADY THERE.

I don’t want or need to create a project to do what is already happening. This project has not developed to become another support group or an add on arts activity that may replace something already in existence. It should support or work with what exists already or do something new.

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2: WORK WHERE THERE IS A NEED/WANT

What we have done over the past two years has worked and is important to reiterate. We worked WITH organisations who wanted us! Who had a NEED. Who did not have access to an artist or to creative input.  We provided workshops or sessions for these organisations, not for THERAPY but to support individuals, groups or staff members to increase self esteem, to have time to talk about issues that come up whilst being creative/learning new skills or simply have time for themselves. The sessions were a SAFE FREE SPACE. Free financially but also with regard to what happens. A space that allowed no outcomes, no agenda, other than having space to be quiet, try something new or refresh previous creativity, have access to materials or ideas that may be new or that people may not have the time, money or resources for. Sometimes just a place for a cup of tea.

The events we then put on were in direct response to the conversations and time spent with the organisations, their staff and the people who benefit from the service. These again created conversation spaces, time to talk about campaigns, debate and discuss potential changes and encourage dialogue.

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Three Impromptu Exhibitions in Aldershot 2017, Susan Merrick

3: SUPPORT ARTISTIC PRACTICE LOCALLY

The project is also for ARTISTS. Local and National Artists to work in Rushmoor. It is vital for me that the project encourages Artistic practice. Where Artists are creating their own art work, artistic responses and research, not just delivering workshops. This is not simply about providing workshops for local people. It is also about providing and supporting artist’s practice by supporting them to instigate work that focuses on local social issues. By recruiting Artists who want to develop their practice in a social research base and through working with local organisations who want to utilise having a professional Artist working with them, we can create more fulfilling working relationships. We can support local organisational need, create opportunities for local participants, create and support local artistic practice and research and create a focus on local social issues – which can then potentially benefit the local community in general.

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4: COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

The project for me must have a community engagement element. It needs to in some way interact with the wider local community either in the process or via events of some kind. These may be exhibitions, they may be talks, they may be by using public spaces or buildings within the community that are open to the public. A space or event to discuss or raise awareness of the issues that come up, that are dealt with by the people we work with, by the organisations we work with and then by the artists. A space where the wider community can join in the conversations, where others can have a say, make their mark, join in.

 

 

 

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