Monday, 8 February 2010

Days Out of Time

Just returned from Bath and Bristol, and a packed weekend. Not long after a brilliant warm-up night at the Storyclub, on Wednesday, on the Sunday, we storytellers were performing as part of Awen Publications' and Icepax Productions' Garden of Awen cabaret night at the Chapel Arts Centre in Bath. The event was beautifully decorated and the venue a really nice one. Unlike many religious buildings converted to other uses, it had intimacy and wasn't draughty. The stage area was quite high, and a nice size. Black and a few white circular bistro tables with upholstered chairs filled the rest of the space, with a bar at the back. Candles were lit on the tables which made play of the mirror-like surfaces, and the house lights were globes on the walls above, shedding a soft indirect glow.
The stage was a vision in red panels which glowed with the lighting rig changes, adorned in red roses for the love theme, with bird cages like Cocteau-style aerial scribbles, all surreal and hanging at different heights behind which were remarkably effective. The evening was excellent with a good turn out, great turns from the likes of Kevan Manwaring (of Awen) who was launching his latest book of poetry, and Saravian a very fine singer/songwriter who sang hauntingly of the theme. The lighting turned the backdrop from crimson to magenta, darkened the background to make everything vivid... Our own couple of sets seemed to go down well, and we had brought plenty of red fabric and pink organza for the theme!
By 2am, I was ready to collapse, having caught up with the ever-hospitable Kevan, renewed contact with two other members of Fire Springs storytellers who I had not seen in too long, had a quick look round beautiful Bath, lugged prop and book boxes to and from town and van, and all in suspense (more of that in a moment). The next day, up early and onward to Bristol, to meet a philosopher friend in the Arnolfini - the perfect place for it, and much catching up was also done! Before finally returning to base, tired but full of good coffee, and a succession of images and conversations...
I had hardly put down the boxes, when I got a call. I had applied, not without concerns as to how possible it would be with 3 jobs, one of which being Spoken/Written with all its attendant commitments, plus another two newsletters to research! - for the post of Apples & Snakes S.W. co-ordinator. The interview had been before the weekend, involving a panel of questioners and a presentation. The decision was to come on the Monday, and so while I was equally divided about concerns for giving the fullest attention to this or that role at any one time, the news came. In a way the best of all outcomes - Spoken/Written and my own role in the scene, the work that it and I as editor do were called 'inspiring' but I was not going to be called on to attempt to juggle four roles, and possibly (and agonizingly) pass on the editorship (of Spoken/Written), even temporarily to another, nor to leave key administrative tasks for the Collective to the others (who had expressed mixed emotions about possible changes).
I felt that perhaps an opportunity of another kind had opened up - a mental space to take with even more seriousness the three tasks which are already mine. And it had clarified the areas on which I (as many artists) need to expand and work to better hone - those of marketing, fundraising, and turning key relationships with the likes of promoters to better account.
I had already learnt so much just from the process of writing such an application, a presentation, answering key questions put by those involved in a large arts organization, perhaps most rewardingly, calling on those I admire or have worked with to give testimonials in favour of the skills I offered...and debriefing with another artist who had applied for the same post. So the whole thing felt worth having done.
And after a weekend of architecture, events and catching up with friends to take my mind from the suspense or uncertainty, it was ended. Another extraordinary weekend. Big thanks must go to Kevan, fellow performers, Will, and Chris, Jon, Dave, and Clive of the Storyclub, Kirsty and Anthony, all those who have made Spoken/Written what it is from readers, subscribers, donors or the Arts Council, and finally to A&S for a most interesting experience.

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