FIELD is a conversational residency for creatives, designed to create space to talk, reflect, listen and be listened to. It is artist-led and part of our ongoing conversational practice.
Participants are drawn from across performance-related arts practices, the geography of the north, lived experience and heritage. We come together in a spirit of curiosity and discovery, to forge ideas for creative futures, with care and kindness.
At the heart of FIELD is uncertainty: the desire to explore emerging ideas and thoughts through the act of conversation with one another.
Each residency has resulted in a publication with contributions from each of the participants and some of the guests.
The first FIELD was in 2020, as part of our response to the pandemic. In a moment when everything we knew as 'normal' had come to a stop, it was a chance to reconsider what might be possible.
Participants in the first residency were: Lisette Auton, Umar Butt, Brendan Curtis, Emma Geraghty, Adam York Gregory, Ellie Harrison, Lady Kitt, Krissi Musiol, Toni-Dee Paul, Chloe Smith, Hannah Sullivan, and Ben Wright. We were joined by Stuart Allen (Derby Theatre), Emma Beverley (East St Arts), Kate Craddock (GIFT), Katie Hickman (Baltic), Kevin Jamieson (HOME), Daniel Mitchelson (ARC), Jo Verrent (Unlimited), Rachael Walton (Third Angel), and Rich Warburton (Theatre in the Mill).
In 2021, we were focused on value. We ran two FIELD residencies on the topic. Between them, we hosted a session as part of GIFT 2021, offering participants from rural Northumberland to the centre of Tehran a taste of what FIELD is like.
The first residency was in spring, with artists from across Scotland. The artists taking part were Jenna Watt, Emily Nicholl, Raman Mundair, Sanjay Lago, Katharine Williams, Jassy Earl, Alice Allen, Heather Fulton, Jessica Raam, Leonor Estrada Francke, Heather Marshall and Ellen Renton. On occasions, we were joined by Julie Ellen (Macrobert), LJ Findlay Walsh (Tramway), Dominic Hill (Citz Theatre), Sara Johnstone (Workroom), Lucy McGlennon (Eden Court), Fiona Ferguson (Imaginate), Ruth McEwan and Gareth Nicholls (Traverse Theatre), Karl Jay Lewin (Dance North), Liam Sinclair, Andrew Panton and Jess Thorpe (Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre), Mhari Robinson (Independent Arts Projects), Vanessa Boyd (Creative Scotland) and Gill Robertson (Catherine Wheels)
The second residency, in the north of England, was the first time we were able to bring some participants into a physical space to be with one another (it was hybrid, so others took part online). We came together at East St Arts in Leeds. The artist participants were Afidi Nomo, Dan Goodman, Dawn Woolley, Hannah Butterfield, Humira Imtiaz, Jennifer McMillan, Laura Lulika, Lora Krasteva, Luke Beech, Lydia Catterall and Rachel Krische. Joining us were Ingrid Banerjee Marvin (East St Arts), Kate Craddock (GIFT), Phil Douglas (Dance City), Ali Dunican (Quarantine), Jyothi Giles (Theatre in the Mill), Robin Hawkes (Leeds Playhouse), Alan Lane (Slung Low), Max May (Rural Arts), Ian Morley (The Civic, Barnsley), Karen Watson (East St Arts), Kate West (East St Arts) and Martha Wilson (Leeds 2023).
FIELD has been wide-ranging, with thinking informed by ideas from a variety of writers and makers, but some of the topics investigated by participants include:
Rest, Recovery, Self-care, Wellbeing: burn-out; time to recover, rest, a culture of care and wellbeing; the value of reflection; artistic familiarity with loss, grief, renewal, recycling, trying again, precarity; resilience; working patterns; bodies, body cycles; 'broken bodies'
Belonging: our place in the ecology; finding your buzz; hive identity/ies; creative community/ies; place; being identified by one's practice; sustaining the people in your collaborative networks; responsibility
The Value of Culture: what is the value of culture? Interrogating 'value'; economic and civic benefit; who values the arts and how; believing in the value of culture; differing values (institutions, ourselves, viewers); what is value (and who for)?; what do we mean by culture?
Money and capitalism: the culture of under-earning; we need more voices, we need more money; sustaining artist-led activity in a hostile economic climate; the gig economy; avoiding instrumentalisation; creativity and neoliberal ideologies; capitalism, landlords, value; generating money in and for the arts; marketing work (and self) without feeding capitalism; social media
System change - centring the margins: our responsibility as artists; how we navigate institutions; power dynamics; crip-time; sick time; marketisation of art and artists; maintaining integrity; acknowledging difference; agency and voice; anger and loss as productive forces; restraint and resilience; who benefits; economies of personal interactions
The Body: embodied knowledge as embodied wealth; the relationship between self, body and work; performing in your work; valuing the body; valuing instinct over rationality
Hierarchies of Class & Art: Class as embodied memory/history; the value of humour; mainstream culture and contemporary art; who values what; art hierarchies; what does working-class performance artist mean?
Liveness: the value of artistic encounters: physical, digital, bodily, personal; mediated liveness captured for later consumption; documentation; accessible performance art beyond the pandemic; digital forms; digital vs. embodied liveness?; live and recorded performance; sensory deprivation
Validation: ethical, moral and financial validation; does the cultural sector embody its values? Self-esteem: valuing ourselves
Money: rewarding kindness; financial turnover; day rates; how to value energy of self and others; careers and career paths
Our environment & ecology: environmental catastrophe; the planet is burning; relations of subject and form; priorities
The language and practice of inclusion - elitism - access: elitism in the arts; cultural translation and global inequality; tick-box diversification; code switching; prioritising access
Who We Need To Be: imagining futures; taking time to ask different questions of ourselves; not what we need to do; how to change the world through the art we make; how to stand in your truth
Power, leadership, institutions & structures: how long people stay in positions of power; institutional structures; personal/artistic (in)visibility; engaging with political structures; the third sector
Facilitating change - making change - supporting change: burning the arts down and starting again; the art of ephemeral communities; cooperation not competition; stepping into power and dialogue; activism; collective action
Products - outputs - ethics - art: the intrinsic value of art; process over product; measuring and valuing output; ethics and outputs; populism; sustainability; rest
At the end of the first FIELD, we held a session to imagine possible futures ... these excerpts offer a glimpse of the participants' thinking in spring 2020.