Dear friends, colleagues, and strangers,
Live art is mostly shit, isn’t it? Not that I am or should be the final arbiter of such things, but the point is there are arbiters of these things and there’s literally nothing I want to see right now or in the near future that those arbiters approve of. I know I’m not the only one. For the past two or three years I’ve been trying to get some new live projects launched but despite lots of meetings and being on various shortlists, very little has come of it. I know many other artists for whom this is true as well. So a while ago I just thought “Fine then, fuck it. I’ll do it myself.”
YES I’M BITTER, but out of that bitterness has come a beautifully sweet idea. I’m determined to find new ways of sharing live art that matter to normal people, outside of theatres, arts centres and galleries. Time to re-route around the blockages. Time for artists to support each other and seek their validation and their connections without the stuck-in-their-ways places and the no-sayers who work at them getting between us and the audience.
I don’t know what this thing will be, but it won’t exactly be an organisation or a commissioner. It definitely won’t be an attempt at a permanent space or venue; there are far too many of those being dragged along as dead weight in the arts funding net already. It might be a business of some sort, or a cooperative. It will certainly be shaped by the outsiders I want to find and help and show. You. I want you to tell me about your live art and why it isn’t getting the money and eyeballs it deserves. There’s a contact form you can use at the bottom of this page.
What will happen if I sign up?
This isn’t even a project yet, it’s a large but vague cloud of ideas for a project. For the time being you won’t be asked to do anything except be your very special self and not let the bastards grind you down before I can get it together. I will collate the names and contact details of all the people who get in touch with me over the next few months. I’ll keep you in the loop about any significant developments or opportunities that arise from my research and development process. The people who make themselves known to me and the things they want to do will obviously play a large part in how whatever-this-thing-is develops. There’s no money, performance opportunities or jobs going at the moment so don’t ask, but see What will happen later? below.
One favour you can do me, though, is to please share, forward and retweet links to this page as widely and as often as you can… within reason. You’re a live artist. You should be good at choosing your place and your moment.
What will happen later?
From the autumn of 2016 I will start working towards finding money, space and time for a first event or intervention or festival or mortal rupture to the British live art scene’s comfy conformity. Neither the project as a whole nor any individual event will ever go ahead unless it’s financially sustainable, a good and positive experience for everyone involved, and everybody is being paid fairly. As they should be for all performers and artists, the twin mantras for STA are:
- Professionally made, professionally paid. (Nod to Equity.)
- No day rate? No me, mate.
NB There may be more mantras later.
Who is it for? Two nos, many yeses.
Your work has to require your bodily presence in an actual place in real time; could be minutes, months, anything. You need to be permanently based in the UK because that’s where I am and I can’t take on the whole world.
Not to downplay, dis or dismiss their craft but I’m not looking for musicians, DJs, VJs or technologists unless there’s a unique, unavoidable and holistic liveness to what they do beyond playing or mixing a track, running code or telling a machine to do its thing. There are numerous commissioners, venues and festivals for these artists and forms already. But if your digital or technological work truly interacts with and acts upon people or places in real time and you need to be present to make it happen, get in touch. Performance lectures are my thing and I’d love to see more of them, but I’m not looking for playwrights, playwright-performers, standups, cabaret acts or conventional linear dramas that could be, would be or should be staged in a theatre.
I’m not really interested in artists working through their body issues or with their body fluids, or in drag acts with or without pretensions because
a) I’m just so incredibly bored by them all, and personally I think the majority of conventional drag and LGBT-centric work is incredibly basic (and base), with misogynistic, cruel, divisive and/or racist undertones that I don’t want to support.
but mainly because
b) I think this kind of live art is supported very well– if not excessively so in some cases– by the existing venues, opportunities and organisations. Drag and body horror are MASSIVE clichés of live and performance art, i.e. once they were fresh and interesting but now nobody really even thinks them through. And I don’t believe anybody is clamouring for more of this stuff, except apparently the agencies and venues who commission it all the time, and a small group of their friends and supporters. Let’s aim bigger and better than just preaching to the choir.
As with my previous no, there will be exceptions. If (for example) your gender-based performance transcends camp and all the isms, if your body-conscious or body horror show is genuinely like nothing else you or I have ever seen, if you feel like an outlier or an outsider even to the supposedly inclusive LGBT venues and networks, or your drag show makes other queens confused, I’d like to know about you.
People from groups under represented in live arts, and all of the arts– those with disabilities or mental health problems (NB: being an arsehole doesn’t count, there’s loads of them working in the arts already), the self-taught or retrained, people from working class or low income backgrounds, artists interested in all the subjects this planet has to offer and not just in themselves and their own angst, too young [sic], too old [sic], unfashionable, rural or suburban– are not only very, very welcome but exactly who I’m looking for. People to whom none of these things apply may also make themselves known, of course. We’re making a new thing that includes, not just yet another bloody thing that excludes. Apart from cutters, shitters and other people of their ilk who act out self-harm and debase themselves for other peoples’ enjoyment. They’re not in our gang and probably wouldn’t want to be.
Live artists who’ve lapsed or dropped out because you were demoralised or had other priorities or the money just wasn’t there should also join the list. Let’s try to get it right for you (and all of us) this time.
Work that’s funny or serious or frightening or comforting or sublimely stupid or too clever for most people or almost Lovecraftianly indescribable and no venue or commissioner will touch it? You’re the one for me, arty.
Please contact me if you’re at all interested in any of this, and share widely. That is all for now, carry on.