Who’s who: Kim Simpson, Associate Producer, Tramway

Kim is looking away from the camera and smiling. She has long, brunette hair and is wearing a green and yellow top.
Kim Simpson with Tim Nunn. Unlimited Artists Development Day 2016. Photography by Rachel Cherry.

In the next in our series, Unlimited Trainee Simon talks to Kim Simpson, Associate Producer at Tramway, in the lead up to Tramway’s Unlimited Festival 2016.


 Simon: You have worked on lots of different project across a range of disciplines – what particularly excites you about your current work with Tramway?

Kim: I am producing the engagement programme for Tramway’s Unlimited Festival; I’ve called it Tramways Unlimited Festival: What? and it asks “What is Unlimited?” in a variety of ways. For me, the exciting thing is that the festival represents a moment of convergence in Scotland and Glasgow and the engagement programme really unpicks that and makes it into a catalyst for evolving the discussions around disability and art.

Thanks to rich and nuanced conversations I’ve had with some of our local established artists and champions here in Glasgow, we have identified four themes that run through the Tramway’s Unlimited Festival: What? Programme – Visibility, Intersectionality, Commitment and Evolution. These themes are so intriguing for me, so open to interpretation and yet so essential. I’m really excited to see how people respond to them, what kind of conversations they provoke and what Tramway’s Unlimited Festival might catalyse here.


S: What are you currently involved with in the run up to the festival?


K: The festival intersects with live discussions here about how to support the next generation of disabled artists, in a context of political and economic instability and in light of the fact that our established artists are really, really busy! Whose responsibility is it to ensure pathways for emerging artists into their arts practice, and to enable and support these artists to sustain that practice? It’s a question we’ll be asking at the What Next? Symposium on 21/22 September, which Unlimited Impact are generously supporting. This is a really meaty part of the programme and has taken up a lot of time and attention as it’s vital that it offers a space for emerging artists to articulate what they want and need in a place that feels open but also supported.

I’m also running a dedicated blog called Kim Asks What in the lead-up to and throughout the festival. As well as giving me a place to put my regular rants, I will be asking people involved with Tramway’s Unlimited Festival, and a wider pool of interested people, to contribute content exploring the themes, laying the groundwork for a really exciting festival in September.


S: Do you find you approach your producing practice from a different perspective as a disabled person? Has this had an effect on your collaborations? Do you sometimes have to think creatively about how you approach your work?


K: Absolutely and resoundingly yes. I think I ask better questions and look for clarity much more due to my perspective and experiences. It took me a long time to understand how much my condition affected my work, both generally and as a producer and it felt all bad for a very long time. I am still figuring out ways to approach my work that makes the most of my energy but it’s partly about flexibility in terms of my hours and environment, having tools for producing text (I currently use Google Docs voice recording for long emails) and lots and lots of Skype meetings and by addressing some of these practical things it’s starting to become clear that I have a lot to offer because of and not just in spite of my impairment.

I have had some great and some terrible collaborations and the key take-away is always communication. Unfortunately, when energy and pain are considerations, it can make it difficult to ensure that the communication is always there, especially since I am not always able to actually do the communicating. I definitely also had a denial phase about what my condition meant for me professionally and that really affected my collaborations. Now I have a few strategies – having standard access info to share with new clients and collaborators, using project management tools so I can take a break without worrying about holding up progress, developing a short-hand with colleagues so that I can say I am having a bad day and not have to go into any more detail and never working more than 2-3 hours in a single block!

I would say that I’ve had to be creative and clear in my approach, but also that I have had to learn to set and keep good boundaries, which is a good thing for any project, collaboration or career!


S: I understand that you will be covering the festival in some detail on your blog. Where can people find out more about festival and your other work?

The blog can be found at www.kimaskswhat.online and for information on my other work you can visit www.makeshifthappen.info .


Tramway’s Unlimited Festival runs from the 15th-25th September 2016. Find more information here


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