Together with Dorset artist collective Force 8 and the Mothership, Culture+ held a free event for artists, curators, designers, critics and producers at Hooke Park . The event on November 17, explored the alignment between artistic engagement and financial sustainability in a rural community. From an artist performance to an inspirational speaker followed by small group discussions we looked at:

  • How to invest in our practices to generate finance, develop entrepreneurial business models and secure sustainability
  • Building and enhancing our networks to develop collaborations and sustain forward thinking, innovative, contemporary arts practice in rural Dorset
  • Enriching the local cultural infrastructure within a tourist destination

This was an ambitious goal which began the conversation amongst 30 artists and creatives towards enhancing Dorset’s rural arts ecology.

Pine Beech Pine Performance

Based at the picturesque site of Hooke Park,  Dorset based performance artist Helen Robertson started the afternoon with Pine Beech Pine. It was a circular forest walk punctuated by event intervals. The walk led the group through a tall pine wood, a beech wood and a low dark pine wood. At particular locations in each wood a cane structure had been built like the outline of an exterior room with trees growing through it. At each of these locations a live improvised spatial choreography took place in relation to the site, the trees, the exterior room and the collective gathering.

Helen Roberston Hooke Park Helen Roberston Hooke Park Helen Roberston Hooke Park

C-A-S-T – Teresa Gleadowe

Once we had settled back into the venue Teresa Gleadowe shared the story of C-A-S-T and Groundworks in Cornwall.

Teresa spoke to highlight the need of a space for artists and creatives to grow and network. Her work with C-A-S-T also points out the importance of bringing international and national renowned artists to rural areas.  Encouraging the discussion and exploration with artists from outside a specific area will:

  • expand horizons
  • burst the area local arts bubble
  • help in making the sector more interesting

Teresa Gleadowe - CAST and Groundwork

The exploratory discussion

We broke into groups to explore challenges that the rural arts sector in Dorset is facing and found common strands of development needs:

  • Training

    • Understanding how to respond to commission call outs and briefs
    • Fundraising and where to apply for funding creative projects
    • Being more entrepreneurial
    • Marketing skills on website and social media development
    • Audience development  – how to attract visitors to rural areas
  • Spaces

    • Development of affordable and accessible spaces and studios
  • Network and collaboration

    • Link up venues, galleries, studios and resources to artists and creative practitioner
    • Build up partnership with rural organisations such as parish councils, farms councils and Area of Natural Beauty Association
    • Development of a creative club – a network building and collaboration group that runs social events
    • Exchanges and visits with national and international organisations that runs inspiring places such as Clay Arts Bridgwater,  , Old Knows Birmingham , Cockpit Arts , Hauser & Wirth Somerset.
  • Culture and tourism 

    • Investment into larger rural cultural venues that have national appeal
    • Selling artist residencies to a wider network and developing a collective offer

What’s next?

Culture+ will continue to work with Force8 and Mothership to support Dorset’s rural arts ecology

Training and networking in Dorset

Culture+ will be delivering a series of training, courses and workshop to address Dorset arts sector need in the next few years. If you are interested and want to find out more about these courses follow this link.

With the sector we are also looking into providing more networking and collaboration space in Dorset. If you were not in the event and would like to join the network and interested in collaboration, please email Rosie Russell with your interest.

Working with national and international organisations and artists

We started discussions with Littoral Arts Trust, a national arts and environment organisation who will be developing a New Creative Rural Economies initiative (and a conference proposed for 2018). The initiative outlines a wider strategic role for art, architecture, digital design and the cultural sector in support of rural regeneration and the Government’s (post-Brexit) Industrial Strategy. Read more on their recent Hyper Rural symposium that discussed arts in rural communities here.

If you were unable to attend the Dorset’s Rural Arts Ecology event but have some input and suggestions based on the topics covered, we would love to hear from you either via email or in the comments box below.