Exploring the role of animateur in the BRAW experiment – what value is added and how does it work?
Written in Jan 2018 by – Kate Wieteska, BRAW Animateur
Our Cove Park residency weekend was in equal part exhilarating and terrifying. The chance to meet everyone who will be taking part in the project was great and to talk openly with them about our intentions and expectations was incredibly useful.
I had many questions before the weekend about how the process might work, a large part in relation to the approach the artists might want to take when interacting with the communities. Through discussions it became clear that it is not necessarily going to be a straight collaboration between audience and artist with regards to creating the work, rather a way of involving audience from the beginning as colleagues in the process. This is an exciting possibility and enabled me to think more about my intention as an activator of the community. I have to think about what my intentions are and how I will contextualise myself in each environment.
I was drawn to the idea that this process might allow for the audience to anticipate the work in a more engaging way. They will meet the artists, they will see them working, they will get to have an input in the creation of the work as it is prototyped. This is interesting because it does not put the spotlight on communities in terms of having work created about them, rather having work created in their space and seeing what that evolves into. I do see this as a process of social engagement, just in a new ways. This is refreshing, as rural communities can get exhaustion from being stereotyped, being commented on and being romanticised.
My intention has shifted slightly as a result of this weekend and has focused in a bit more clearly. I will firstly spend some time getting to know communities and get the word out there about the project – introduce the initial anticipation of start of the artistic process. I will devise different methods of interaction – individual meetings, talking with local businesses, taking part in existing groups and events and possible public facing ideas such as using the Touring Network chairs, rickshaw / bike trailer interactions, putting up a stall, giving out food…
I am aware that promoters are taking a risk being part of this project. These are the communities they live in – they are vulnerable in that sense. My role can really take some of that pressure off, as I can experiment with new routes of interaction that they might feel is too risky for them. I do however need to be mindful that whatever I do will be connected to their work and therefore I want to make sure that we have talked things through before I get going. This is also relevant to the artists as I will be a representative of their work and therefore want to make sure that I have a good understanding of what they are working on and how it is evolving.
I want to find refreshing ways of interacting with these communities as I know from living in a rural context myself that there can be a level of suspicion around new people coming in and ‘doing projects’. Because of this I want to set my intention as finding people to be our colleagues, even in the smallest ways. I want to ask for opinions, I want to ask for help, I want to start conversations that are real. I don’t think it’s going to be easy, but it is going to be an organic, evolving ball of delight and intrigue whatever happens!
Read more from BRAW below