We’ve been doing this for almost 25 years, and are always keen to help out other artists (and anyone else) with the benefit of our experience. Just over 10 years ago, alongside Birmingham Artists and Seeing the Light, we founded West Midlands Creative Alliance. Over two years we worked with over 400 artists from all disciplines on three-month development courses, ending in a group exhibition. Seventy percent of the artists attending reported an increase in their income by forty percent or more as a result. The most important outcome for us is that many of those artists continue practicing 10 years later, when there is usually a huge drop in artists continuing to practice, a couple of years after graduating from college.
We are currently working with our Artists on the Edge group – a cohort of 10 interdisciplinary and intergenerational artists who have been working together for almost a year. Through weekly group meetings, a series of workshops and one to one mentoring we have been helping them to develop their practice, alongside their business. We helped them with a successful bid to Arts Council England for a group exhibition in the Summer, and they are currently partnering with the Centre for Fine Art Research on producing a publication examining the difficulties in leaving ’emerging artist’ status – and what it is to be ‘post-emerging’.
Members of the group have had some great personal successes. One participant moved from a job they didn’t enjoy into an entirely new sector, in a relatively high level role. Others have moved from delivering on other people’s projects to initiating and running their own. The group also continue to collaborate on regular monthly events for Digbeth First Friday and it is testament to the strength of the group that they continue to work together regularly, a year after they met.