This week I met with the Art Development and events officer for Watford Council to discuss my idea for working on a funded project and also ways that I might be able to gain support. This was extremely valuable as I was able to gain a number of insights into the kind of projects that Watford funds and also consider ways to strengthen my own application.
With the aim of working on a community themed project, which aligns with my research project goals, my idea is to work with students that attend the college that I work at and work with them to create a picture on the impact that recent current events is having on their generation (Fig: 1). The idea has been well received by people that I have shared it with, artist’s Jennifer Essex and Harry Mann noting that there are opportunities for a range of community engagement with such an idea (Fig: 2). That said, they suggested that I might consider widening my scope to include other institutions and also I should aim to take my time to develop a really strong application to the Arts Council.
The Art Development officer was also very positive about my idea for the project and also made some suggestions to strengthen my approach. Chiefly, my application would need to demonstrate the following:
- Education: This is an area that I had in mind for the project as I am keen to apply my teaching experience to create a more socially engaged approach. Potentially, I would include a number of workshops that could initially include photography and talks to work with the young people and give them the tools to create their own stories.
- Collaboration: Very much linking to the above. My aim is to work with the people I want to photograph and also give them the opportunity to shape the direction of the work. Their contribution will be incredibly valuable to the process.
- Sound Budget: Something that I am currently working on. I think value is at the heart of what I am aiming to achieve here so my budget will need to reflect this. I am keen to create the work on film as it lends a tangibility to the project that the 16 -19 age group may not have experienced so will need to justify this additional cost of production.
Additionally, he also mentioned the following, which would really help support my application and getting the project off the ground:
- My idea was inspired by the idea that the demographic of an FE college has one of the worst levels of social mobility, coupled with the ongoing economic impact of current events and the way that FE was essentially forgotten about during the summer exams issues, with some of the student still awaiting outcomes for their exams and qualifications. I am keen to showcase this age group and highlight some of the challenges faced by them. The Arts Officer was keen on this aspect of the idea and although he suggested that this shouldn’t be overtly political, it is something that exists and should be part of the application and project.
- Watford was due to be Herts city of culture. Postponed due to Covid. However, there is potential to put something together for this ready for next year when this is planned to go ahead.
- There have been relatively few applications to the Arts council from this area and they are keen to see some happening. This is particularly positive as I was concerned that the south east would be an area of high competition and it would be a challenge to cut through. Not to be complacent however, I intent to work on a robust application and ensure that it can be a success.
As a result of this meeting, I will be developing my draft proposal to share with Watford Council and consider the ways in which it can be supported. The Officer mentioned that there are also a number of other funding options available that my idea might suit, which provides additional potential to have my project funded.