The opening of Proof went swimmingly. The event was well attended and overall comments were very positive. For me, having an exhibition of new work by technically gifted artists was enough justification to programme the event. The ethos I have tried to install at Arena is to show or commission new work and in doing so, offer the artists (who would not normally be Liverpool regulars) a more fruitful experience. The relationship between the gallery and the artist has to be more developed than dropping work off to exhibit (something that we did during A Degree of Uncertainty, Sep 09, Arena Gallery) and picking it up at the end.
The latest TAXED event took place 48 hours later in A Foundation. Based loosely on Hannah Hurtzig’s Mobile Academy, Blackmarket…series, the event backed by AN magazine, would offer a ‘skillmarket’ swap environment for artists to share and exchange their knowledge. I found it incredibly disappointing that attendance for the event was low. Half of the participants who had signed up to offer their skills did not attend. Now this paints a negative picture of the event which is not the case. There was interesting dialogue between attendees and I personally was involved in reciprocal transfer of knowledge (citing my experience in running smaller arts organisations). Hard work by Emily Speed, Sacha Waldron and Clare Warren ensured that the event actually happened.
Liverpool is not rich in events of this nature. Critical discourse/debate is reserved between peers and over a pint in the pub. Skillsmarket whilst utterly worthwhile, would have been a key success if the illusive half of the sign ups decided not to bother instead. The arts scene in Liverpool disappointed me on Saturday. I wonder what will change this, but it must start with people wanting to engage and are willing to put themselves in positions that challenge them and that aren’t offered on a plate by the larger institutions.