I’m kinda lost right now – where do we go from here?

I’m a volunteer at the Cathedral Archer Project in Sheffield. I work in the kitchen, washing up, not because that’s a special talent that I have, but because it saves the more experienced workers and volunteers from doing a shitty and time-consuming job.

Although it might seem like moral-signaling, I really can’t take any credit for what I do now because, for most of my life, I have been one of those people who has walked on by, not willing to help, too busy to help, not knowing what to do, not wanting to get involved.
This morning, on my way to do my four-hour, once-a-week shift, I passed a motionless human body sprawled on a section of the grass forming the curtilage of Sheffield Cathedral, just above the Archer Project, just around the corner from the entrance. A young woman, dressed in office-wear and smoking a cigarette was nearby, looking in the direction of the body.

I walked past, and then turned back, and asked the smoking woman if she knew… as it turned outed to be… her. She did not. I went over to the prone woman and tapped her on the shoulder. To my relief, she woke up, a woman in her late twenties (maybe). I apologised for waking her up.

By this time, another young woman dressed in office-wear had joined me and expressed her disgust at other people walking past. The now-woken young women said “I’m just really tired. I just need to get enough money to get a bed.”

I said “Are you a client at the Archer Project? I’m going there now.” She said “I’m not on spice.”, got up and walked away.

I didn’t know what to do next, but I was tempted to give her some money, although we are advised by charities not to give money in the street, and so we let her walk away.

I really don’t know if I could have done any more or that whatever what I did would have been the right thing to do but I know one thing, I’ll remember her face.

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The talk of shame – the artist’s talk after the residency before. #MakingWays #CityOfMakers @MuseumSheffield

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.

Hi Richard

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.

Best wishes

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).

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Rick has left the building – timelapse video #MakingWays #CityOfMakers

Rick’s Fast Art Takeaway at Orchard Square was a strange, complex and taxing experience and I can’t deny being relieved when it was over. I think I over-committed in terms of the number of days and hours on-site and I misjudged the sheer physicality of it.

However, it was also highly rewarding and challenging in the good way. It’s interesting to watch the timelapse video after the event as I had forgotten so much of what happened and how many people came, despite some very quiet days.

Here is a montage of me loading everything out, shot over several days due to the limited hours for vehicle access.

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Rick’s Fast Art Takeaway timelapse video days 18, 19, 20 & 21 #MakingWays #CityOfMakers


Excerpts from the last four days of Rich’s Fast Art Takeaway. The only timelapse left to upload is a summary of the takedown. Despite is being so recent, I forget things so easily and the timelapse reminds me of lots of meetings that I had forgotten. The residency was a dense and enriching experience but also with many disappointments and frustrations. I’ll be writing about this stuff for some time yet.

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What a day! Rick’s Fast Art Takeaway timelapse video day 17 #MakingWays #CityOfMakers

This was day 17, the mega day. I ticked a lot of boxes this day, but not solely down to my efforts. I was assisted by Gary, Catherine & Stella & entertained many guests. There is a lot more to say about the agenda behind Rick’s Fast Art Takeaway and it will be revealed gradually, so stand by. In the meantime, here are some more excerpts from the timelapse video.

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Rick’s Fast Art Takeaway timelapse video days 13, 14, 15 & 16 #MakingWays #CityOfMakers

Day 13 – start

Day 16 – end

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LAST CHANCE! Rick’s Fast Art Pop-Up Café at Cupola Gallery 17th December 12-4pm #MakingWays #CityOfMakers

This Sunday 17th December is the last chance this year to experience Rick’s Fast Art Takeaway. Come along to Cupola Gallery in Hillsborough, have a look around and have a go at a free children’s mini workshop making pizza from waste materials. And/or buy readymade fast-art for that difficult-to-buy-for person who has everything.

All takings donated to the Archer Project & S6 Foodbank.

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