New Year, New Opportunities

Flikr user cedwardmoran via Creative Commons
Flikr user cedwardmoran via Creative Commons

What are the key opportunities Clara Giraud, Assistant Producer, thinks we should be particularly aware of at the start of this new year?

As the new year kicks in, and we shake off the dust from last year’s projects, and freelancers are hurriedly handing in their tax returns, there’s space for new ambitions.

Sometimes the passing of the new year reminds us to make the breathing space we often take for granted. For independent practitioners this is a luxury that is hard to find, often caught in a system of delivering one project and fundraising for the next all at once. Artsadmin’s Bursary is a rare opportunity for those working in live art and contemporary performance for ten years or less, to receive a no-strings-attached financial and in-kind support. If you’ve got an international itch, Arts Council England’s Artists’ International Development Fund offers small grants up to £5,000 towards early stage development opportunities for individuals to explore the international potential of their practice.

Sometimes, time, encounters and provocations are just what you need to refuel your practice…and to take significant leadership to make things happen. Both the Clore Foundation and Arts Council England have acknowledged the lack of diversity in cultural leadership, recognising the need for further support and encouragement to significantly change this for the better. Clore’s Cultural Leaders Fellowships are open for applications, and encouraging disabled people to apply. Arts Council England’s Change Makers will enable long-term relationships between aspiring leaders and National Portfolio Organisations.

If you have the ambition to get your work out there more, 2016 might be about getting into more showcases and festivals to expand its touring potential. More and more arts organisations are stepping in to support artists to get their work seen in key contexts, recognising the huge financial risk this can be for independent artists, as well as the undeniable potential it has. Stopgap and The Point did just that at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year, and they’re back with the iF Brighton Fringe bursary for disabled artists. Caravan Showcase’s marketplace is still open for applications as well, if you’re looking to introduce your work to international programmers.

In the ever-competitive funding environment, building resilience has to be at the heart of even the wildest ambitions. Much of the frustrations with the arts funding structures in the UK are the difficulties for the very small organisations to access core funding, leaving them in a precarious position of project-by-project funding. Arts Council England’s Elevate programme gives hope for those organisations whose activities contribute to the Creative Case for Diversity to secure some necessary financial support.

Finding the impulse to power ahead and imagine new opportunities for ourselves and our work is at the core of the cultural sector – it is what gives it its energy, and keeps audiences engaged. Good thing, then, that this month is booming with new doors for us to go through and turn those ideas and ambitions into reality.