This was a comment from one of yesterday’s participants. I thought it completely summed up the experience of WCR’s first day in operation.
As with any experiment, you never quite know how it is going to go. What happens when you bring strangers together to work in a new space and have a chat? If yesterday is any indication, the answer is: a lot.
In addition to putting our noses to the grindstone on our individual work, we engaged in dialogue covering: digital knitting machines, laser cutters, citizen science, portable cinemas, friends’ new babies, psychogeography, amazing and fanciful journal article titles, upcoming opportunities to check out, art-science explorations in the North East, science fiction, the use of organisation’s space. These insights into our personal and professional interests shed light on the breadth of experience and passions we have to share.
This all seemed quite timely as the beginning of this project coincided with an email I received from an artist concerned about artists working for free and wanting more transparency with how projects are financed. The culture industry is so vast and complex, that I don’t think any one way of producing or exchanging could possibly apply to the sector at large. Some questions I am hoping to raise through the Working Culture Residency project delve into how the culture industry operates, and what drives those of us working within it. The project specifically casts a wide net, inviting members from all different aspects of the region’s culture sector. Rather than focusing on recruiting participants from the visual arts, WCR aims to bring the visual arts together with writers, funders, translators, opera producers, citizen scientists, etc. In doing so, the project investigates the many and complex ways in which individuals contribute to cultural production, how we value our contributions, and what our responsibilities are to the sector. What are the alternative exchange systems within the culture sector that exist outside the traditional economy? How can these systems serve as models for other sectors? How can other disciplines’ systems serve as models for the culture sector?
These are certainly big questions, but the only way I can see to begin chipping away at them is by inviting people to join me in doing our work around the repurposed glass door table in my studio space, having a coffee and a chat.