Artist@Work – Creating demand from the arts through working with local business
Learn how Creative Scene created demand from the arts by working with local businesses in North Kirklees.
Creative Scene aims to make art part of everyday life in North Kirklees, a cluster of former textile towns including Dewsbury and Batley. As people spend most of their time in businesses and public sector organisations, through work or play, we are keen to work with them to find out how we can create an environment where people regularly engage with the arts. Our Artist@Work strand, launched in October 2014, started to explore the possibilities.
To start the process we did an open call for local businesses willing to host an artist in their organisation. Eight came forward - two cafes, a restaurant, a rugby club, a museum, a market, a shopping centre and a biscuit factory. Each had their own reasons for getting involved: to try and engage new customers, to create a positive work environment for their staff or simply to try something new. Together we created briefs for artists to respond to, shortlisted and interviewed.
The resulting projects were wide ranging including:
- A playwright in residence at Batley Bulldogs Rugby Club
- A digital artist working with Fox's employees to share the stories from inside the factory on the exterior of the building
- A faux drag queen taking up residency in Bagshaw Museum
- A musician based in Matthew's Coffee House
Through this process, Creative Scene became the facilitator balancing the needs of both business and artist and enabling them to take risks. Often businesses came to the process with an idea for a set outcome: usually a visual artwork. Working with a Creative Producer they were able to develop a brief that captured the core of the idea for artists to interpret.
Once appointed, artists and businesses came together in a meeting facilitated by Creative Scene to further develop the project. The role for Creative Scene was to ensure that the artist has an understanding of the business' motivation, the business gives artists the space to be creative and that both are focused on finding new ways to engage people in arts activities.
The artist then took up residence in the business, meeting staff, undertaking relevant training and understanding the business' processes. This not only serves to build trust with the business but is also a research exercise for the artist, both to inform their project and to identify other potential opportunities for developing a broader infrastructure. For example, promoting local arts events at Batley Bulldogs games, running trips to events for Fox's staff and linking with groups run by customers of the cafe, extending the network of people we are able to access through the programme.