Chorlton Arts Festival (CAF) is one of the country’s leading regional arts festivals, jam packed with over 150 multi-arts events over a ten-day period in the leafy suburbs of Manchester. The festival caters to all ages and tastes with its eclectic mix of live music, opera, poetry performances, comedy, theatre, visual arts exhibitions and many other cross art form experiences to be had. When I moved to Manchester to study on the Arts Management, Policy and Practice MA in August last year I had heard only good things about Chorlton arts festival and its amazing craft market. So, when I saw the opportunity to join the CAF team as part of the ICP placement I immediately went for it! They accepted me into the team to take on the role of Visual Arts Assistant, as I have a background in art history and a keen interest in visual arts.
I was lucky to work closely with both the Director and Producer of the festival and was entrusted with the task of programming the visual arts exhibitions. Artists submitted their works via an open submission. From the outset I was brought into the decision making process. My first meeting with the team involved going through each submission with them and selecting the successful candidates. This type of submissions process, with an emphasis on the ‘unexpected’, attracted a large number of submissions from artists working in a range of different media looking to develop and showcase their talent. Finding locations that suited each of the artists works and the prerequisites of the hosting venues proved to be a difficult but exciting challenge to take on.
Working on a live project of this kind was an invaluable experience that allowed me to put some of the theoretical knowledge we had been learning throughout the MA course into practice. Meeting people in the industry helped me gain an understanding of the roles they played in making the festival a success, giving me an insight into the processes involved in producing and running a festival of this scale. One of the many highlights of my placement with CAF was attending the festival and seeing the results of all the talent and hard work that had been put in by all involved in making the exhibitions happen; artists, venues and the the CAF team. Knowing that I had helped to facilitate the creativity of these artists felt like a great achievement. The brilliant work of the artists exhibiting in the festival can be found at http://www.chorltonartsfestival.com/event-type/art/
The inclusive and community nature of the festival made the experience all that more enjoyable, being part of such an enthusiastic team who were all passionate about their contribution to the festival. The skills I gained in liaising and negotiating with artists and venue managers have already been valuable in other projects I have been involved in.