9 October 2015back

Creative Internships Blog Week 1

Clio Ryan, Artes Mundi

“The great aim of education is not knowledge but action” Herbert Spencer, 1820-1903

Leaving third level education and indeed leaving full time education for the first time in my life, I was faced with somewhat of a black hole. Unsure of where my years of studying somewhat diverse subject areas would lead me, the A&B Cymru Creative Internships Programme offered me the chance to follow the advice of Spencer, and begin to put my education towards creating action and actively participate in the world of Arts & Business.

Having only spent one week in the cosy offices of Artes Mundi, tucked away in the High Street Arcade in Cardiff, looking out over the rooftops of the city and further towards the Millennium Stadium, I could not have been made to feel more at home. The small team of staff are all passionate and bursting with infectious enthusiasm for what they do, and I have been made to feel incredibly welcome.

Walking to work in the rain and early morning chill, I began to think about what I could report so far about my internship. After so little time, it’s difficult to truly quantify exactly how much I know about fundraising, but my thoughts began to wander towards my impressions so far.

At the most basic level, I have experienced office life for the first time, sitting at my first ever office desk of my own. I have learnt the symbiosis necessary to run the various projects and tasks undertaken by staff. I have learnt to dress for an office too (maybe?) and the dynamics of how Artes Mundi operates. I have my company email address now and have been inducted into the file sharing system...

In the time leading up towards being offered the internship I had thought that I understood the name of the company ‘Arts & Business Cymru’ but, what I have found in the last week is exactly how perfectly this name expresses the role of a fundraiser or even any member of an arts organisation. I began to ask myself, is it that artistic endeavour requires one to operate in the world of business or is it that businesses are operating in the art world? The fact is that Arts & Business has hit the nail on the head; the two are intrinsically linked and despite my best efforts, I found it impossible to determine between the two.

In the last week I feel I have had my perspective completely shifted. For the past three years I have existed as an artist studying my craft, and looking to institutions such as Artes Mundi as pillars of my own existence; the torch bearers, the infallible gatekeepers to the world of art. This week I have been given the chance to glimpse the view from the opposite direction; seeing the view from inside such an organisation; how do they operate? What is it staff do on a daily basis? How do they find the money to offer artists? What are the kinds of people and organisations that fund the arts? How do you plan and execute a major international art prize and exhibition? What is it that an organisation gains from building a relationship with an artist?

Many suggest that meeting your hero is a bad idea because they can never live up to all that you imagine, and because you will always find that they are simply another person just like anyone else.  I always find the complete opposite of this hypothesis to be true; I find this realisation incredibly inspiring.  That someone can achieve something so impressive while remaining just another human like anyone else leaves everything up for grabs. If someone else can do it, there is absolutely no reason that you can’t do something just as well.

Experiencing Artes Mundi from the inside has had a hugely humbling effect on me; to see how much such a small team of only 8 staff members can achieve has left me feeling that anything is possible and that if you have the drive, you can make something truly exceptional from almost nothing (but time and effort)!

Finally, in terms of fundraising, which is of course the primary focus of my time here, I have found the activities of the past week fascinating. I greatly enjoy researching, learning, and developing an understanding of how aspects of our contemporary society functions. On the hunt to find possible sources of revenue to fund the bold mission that is Artes Mundi, I have been following the interlinking threads and trails of who has funded certain artists and artistic activities in the past. The added excitement of a global project leaves so many avenues open to possibility; it has been like a little a game of ‘Where’s Wally’, finding links and clues to likely funders in tidal wave of information that is the internet. I wonder how this information was circulated without internet access! For now, my journey has just begun and I look forward to learning much more in the coming weeks, I am so glad to have been given the opportunity to actively participate in Artes Mundi!

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