Unexpected Effects and Benefits

Each time I get some funding from Arts Council England (or elsewhere) I find something odd happens to my attitude towards the work, and myself as an artist, that each time is unexpected, but I have noticed a pattern now…

I do feel an obligation, as I have said in previous posts, to deliver, as it is public money. A responsibility to make sure I spend the money well.

But it is more than that. Making sure I spend the money well isn’t the only thing. I feel the need to spend the time well. I feel the need to “get somewhere” to prove to myself that it was worth all the effort!

If I potter on by myself, in unfunded periods, that is what I do, I potter about. (There is huge value in periods of pottering too, but that’s for another post.) But having a budget, a time plan, and a list of people to work with and so on, gives a purpose and direction to a project. For the worlds biggest procrastinator, this is actually hugely valuable. Running in my head is a sort of script that goes “By the end of this project I want to be/ to have done/ to have worked with/ to have seen/ to have made/ to have met/ to have been to…blah blah…

This ensures that by the end, I DO feel I have accomplished something that wouldn’t have been done otherwise. I’m not just talking about doing the project, yes of course I want to have successfully achieved what I have said I will do, but there are extra things. I want to have worked in different ways, with different people, expanded the audience, shown work in different galleries and non-galleries maybe. I have in the past increased my online stats… that seems to be happening this time too. A gently, but undeniable growth of people that are interested in the work I’m doing.

Having funding undeniably gives you access to things and people you wouldn’t otherwise have. Not just the money in itself, but the fact that ACE have deemed you worthy of it seems to be like a rubber stamp to get you through to the VIP tent… well… maybe to the place where you can see the door to the VIP tent…

The growth isn’t just about the places I can get to and the people I can meet and the “stuff” I can buy. It is that almost imperceptible shift in my sense of self. My path to being an artist and feeling like an artist over the last ten to fifteen years has been a bumpy road, and I often fall down potholes. But I am undeniably an artist. I don’t do anything else now. 

Fifteen years ago I was calling myself all sorts of things to skirt round the fact I didn’t feel worthy of the word. Artist seemed such a HUGE word. I felt almost embarrassed using it. What the fuck was that all about eh? But I can remember the feelings… I can feel that growth in my bones.

So… I’m about half way through this project. I’ve done a lot of drawings, they’ve changed a bit. I’ve written and recorded a few songs – remotely – haven’t got myself in the studio with my co-producer and co-writer yet… but the dates are in the diary. I have learned a lot from the process.I have met new people and I have shown in new spaces, real and virtual. I’ve worked with new people… I’m getting there. It feels like a gentle upward spiral. I can now look back and see the point I started at, and I can see progress. All is good.

In June I will have been blogging for ten years. I started on a-n.co.uk/blogs and more recently this has featured on my website too. When I look back down the spiral that far, I hardly recognise myself…

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