…or why having artists take the lead in cultural organisations is vital.
In 2006, I launched the new digital media department for South Hill Park Arts Centre in Berkshire. Starting from an empty room, I set up the first desks, became admin for a small network of Macs, designed the programme and recruited the most talented artists I could find to deliver it.
After 8 years of developing the programme, bringing artists and innovative producers to the venue, creating projects, conferences, festivals and partnerships to reach out to new audiences, I left with a great archive of photos, videos and audio as a document, and a tonne of valuable experiences.
For the most part, venue staff were bemused by the early days of their digital arts department. Marketing staff were reserved about assisting with promotion because they “didn’t know anything about this digital stuff“. Arts funding bodies could see something interesting was going on, but didn’t have the vocabulary to assess what the activity was delivering. Film funding organisations, bound by their own bureaucracy refused to help, as the moving image work was led by “artists” not “film makers“.
These days, the funding organisations have largely caught up, and are readily supporting culture organisations who are leading innovation in digital.