Above: To travel some distance with concrete: a short story by visiting artist Priscilla Beck, who showed in July-August at Watch This Space on Gap Road. Photo by Mimi Catterns.
After 25 years Watch This Space, Alice Springs’s ARI – Artist Run Initiative, as such spaces are called around the country – is going to be able to pay artists to show their work, instead of artists paying them.
Coordinator (and artist) Zoya Godoroja-Prieckaerts made the announcement this week, following the success of a grant application to the Australia Council to “Support Artists and National Conversations”.
“We’ve been working solidly for about a year (and I suppose the last 25 years) to achieve this goal,” she said. “It’s been a lot of work, a lot stress, a lot of rejections.”
Then the good news.
“What does this mean? It means in 2019 and 2020 we will not only cover gallery hire fees so exhibitions are free, but pay artists an exhibition fee of $1000 for eight exhibitions a year, make our Travelling Artist Residency free and have a small yearly budget for travel funds to support visiting artists coming here and local artists going elsewhere.
Left: Building Walls by Zoya Godoroja-Prieckaerts, which showed at Watch This Space in August-September. Photo by Mimi Catterns.
“This is huge. By alleviating financial risk, we will be providing artists the capacity and freedom to focus on experimentation and risk-taking in their practices rather than evolving tentatively, worrying about the financial impact of this process.
“WTS believes it is important that we, the Arts Community, uphold a high standard Code of Practice. Artists enrich our lives and this service deserves to be recognised through monetary payment as almost all other services are.
“As an arts organisation, and particularly as an Artist Run Initiative – a model that is quite often degraded for its grassroots methodologies – we feel it’s so important to be contributors to this movement of valuing artists in order for it to become the standard. If we, that little ARI in the middle of the desert, can manage to pay our artists and show respect through reparations, then maybe the big dogs will follow.
“As for the Residency program and travel fund, these are about National Conversations. We believe it’s so important to include interstate and international artists in our program – no matter what anyone says – it‘s always to the benefit of both local and visiting artists.
“Local artists’ works are seen by interstate and international eyes.
“We’re aligning both regional and metropolitan artists in one space, showing everyone that regional does not mean lesser.
“We’re generating the possibility for new collaborations, partnerships, skills-sharing, development and most importantly the really big and important conversations that happen between these two people / artists /groups. There’s so much to gain from those conversations on a creative, professional and personal level.”
The funding announcement comes as Watch This Space celebrates its longevity with its program over six months, Still Alive After 25 .
A whirlwind of stuff
Flair, imagination, vitality: Watch This Space in 2017