Monday, 30 November 2009

The common perception of rural arts

When I was growing up in Somerset and up until the age of 21 the visual arts that I was aware of in the county were all craft based. Where was all the conceptual, contemporary practice? Was there any happening?

At the age of 21 I started working at The Brewhouse theatre and arts centre and submerged myself in Somerset Arts. Was it now because I was working within the industry that I became aware of the activity in the county? Yes I believe it was. I also believe that I wasn't going out of my way to find those activities and opportunities when I didn't have to. I'm aware that this is not uncommon within rural communities. Why do  rural communities know more about what's happening in urban settings than the local professional arts venue to where they live?

One factor that exists is marketing. For venues and arts organisations it's key to not only market the product but the brand to reassure audiences that high quality programming and supportable programming to their tastes exits. It is an element of trust along with costumer service in welcoming devise audiences into spaces. Yes you need a large marketing budget to feature in the Guardian every week but word of mouth is free and above all the best form of marketing. Therefore what comes first, the activity or the audience? In some circumstances one can determine the other.

If the arts activity is supported and regarded highly by artists and arts advocates within the region does the general publics' opinion then follow?

I believe that by offering a consistent programme of high quality activity and welcoming the general public to engage with the activity good sustainable reputations are forged. I plan on doing this within my project by selecting high quality artists to work with, by creating a professional brand for my activity and forming relationships with the communities in which I plan on working with - for example artists based in Somerset, arts advocates and organisations and the audiences that see the work.  

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