After the residency was over, although it was never promised, I kind of expected to be invited by someone at Museums Sheffield to give an artist’s talk about my new project Rick’s Fast Art Takeaway, but that was not to be. I have had very few artists’ residencies myself, although I have worked on or witnessed many others and I know the score, but my experience on the Making Ways programme left much to be desired.
Here is an excerpt from my evaluation form: (amendments in square brackets)
Please give any feedback on the support you received for your project and ways in which we did really well, or could improve in the future.
I’m sorry to say that the professional support and marketing was sparce and seemingly quite reluctant. I only saw [Making Ways Programme Co-ordinator] once in 21 days on-site and the only other person that visited (to my knowledge) that was in any way professionally connected with the residencies or the Culture Consortium was [name redacted]. I wrote both press releases and attracted all the press myself. The pizza box costume was an excellent idea but I was left to design it, arrange to have it printed, collect it and assemble it. I was even expected to recruit people to wear it.
I got a message asking to confirm the opening times for the Making Ways website a week after I had started, and the plastic-mounted posters arrived two weeks into the residency. These were printed from a design that I made and that was done well before the residency [began]. I enquired about distributing flyers but nothing happened and I was left with hundreds of flyers that it seems I was expected to distribute myself.
It seemed clear on the first weekend that support was going to be minimal. Despite it being the start of my residency, no-one professionally involved came to visit to see if everything was okay. [Other artist-in-residence] told me that [Making Ways Manager] didn’t visit him once in his residency.
I made it very clear to [Making Ways Programme Co-ordinator] and [chair of Making Ways marketing sub group] that I wanted to broaden the catchment way from the usual suspects in the art world, and that the project was designed that way, but I was left to do it all myself despite being busy being the artist in residence.
On the plus side, it was a unique experience to be offered a city centre retail unit and be given unhindered scope in the space.
I could have said more, but I didn’t want to lay it on too thick. This is the email reply that I received from the Making Ways Programme Co-ordinator.
Thank you for your evaluation on the residency at Orchard Square. I am sorry that you don’t feel that you were supported enough on this – other artist’s evaluation reads very differently. I guess everyone has different expectations and are at various places in their career, which effect their expectations and requirements. Its good to have this, if we are looking to run a similar programme in the future.
Your final payment for Orchard Square should go through at the end of April.
In other words: fuck you.
Not one hint of apology for the lack of support or marketing.
This is my reply:
Thank you for your patronising and dismissive non-reply. I guess other artists had a different experience.
In other words: fuck you.
However, the greatest failure was that, despite it being part of my original application, the residency was intended to raise awareness (and funds) for the Cathedral Archer Project, a charity supporting homeless and vulnerable people in Sheffield, and the lack of promotion had a direct effect on the funds and awareness raised.
I would not want to discourage any other artists from applying to the Making Ways programme, but you might be advised to get a clear understanding about the level of support that you will receive (if any).