Sunday, 24 November 2013

Art Party Conference, Scarborough

The Spa, Scarborough, a glorious venue, I'd never been there before.

I nearly didn't go - I was feeling very tired after a busy week with the builders and re-painting furniture.

But I did go, along with Pete, (I've not seen him much over the past month or so, I bought him a ticket; how could he refuse?)  We were accompanied by Yvette Turnbull, Creative Economies Officer, RDC and made a merry trio.

I am glad I did go: it was really fab!  Apart from missing the talk with Jeremy Deller and Cornelia Parker, we were running very late for making this and then we got stuck in the lift.  How many men does it take to find the key to a lift?  Answers via the comments box please!  

Opening the conference; the Mayor of Scarborough, left; Bob and Roberta Smith, centre and Stewart of Crescent Arts, right.

Bob and Roberta's opening, the reading of his letter to Michael Gove set the political tone for the afternoon; Art must not be marginalised or excluded from our education curricula; it is as important as any other subject and sidelining/deleting it will lead to a decline of creative individuals and industries in this country.  

For details of the progamme, speakers etc use this link:  and for a brief report on the conference:

Aside from being stuck in the lift, another cause for excitement and slightly overawed giggling happened when Cornelia Parker suddenly sat next to Yvette during the talk we attended about the importance of Art! Our favourite speaker on the panel for this talk was Sam West, actor; he put into words with passion the importance of the subject so succinctly that he has become one of my new favourite people in the world.

I have amassed a goodly collection of posters, fliers and info regarding arts groups, projects etc.  There was cake too!  The stands were manned by people eager to impart information about their projects/organisations, there were many, many regular short speeches about the importance of Art in education, in society, in life.  In fact there was so much to see, listen to, contribute to, it was all a bit of a blur!  

One of my favourite stalls was the one run by Nailwraps: Influences, an Artsadmin commission for the Art Party Conference.  This project is the work of Phoebe Davies, who, working in collaboration with groups of women, has been exploring current attitudes to geder equality, feminism, female expectations and aspirations.  Working with nail wraps and young women, they are making a real difference to their lives. The nail wraps available on the stand were all women working in some form of the arts or youth projects.  I chose Ana Laura Lopez de la Torre, b. 1969, a Uraguayan artist, activist lecturer and writer. (See pic above).   Ana's practice is community based and concerned with collaboration, exchange, self directed learning and pooling knowledge.  From 1995 - 2012 she worked continually on the long term project the artist as a neighbour, working locally as an artist and as a community organiser around her home in South London.  (Info taken from their leaflet at the stand).

Congratulations to Crescent Arts and Bob and Roberta Smith for organising this conference, which I believe is the first of its kind.  I hope there will be more.  After all, if artists do not agitate for their subject and careers, who will?

Bob and Roberta Smith's web site contains his letter to Michael Gove:

For information about Crescent Arts:

And here, Susan Jones argues that new measures are needed to support artists financially:


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