#18 Bold and ambitious commissions

I was inspired during my time in Adelaide by Vicki Sowry at ANAT (Australia Network for Art and Technology), which supports artists, scientists and technologists to work together on creative research projects, mainly through a scheme called Synapse. Definitely worth having a look at! It’s brilliant to discover an organisation that offers time and space for speculative ideas and risk-taking.

Synapse has funded some tremendous projects, such as this new work by John McCormick, looking at movement tracking, haptic and robotic technologies to make dance performance more accessible to deaf-blind, blind or vision impaired audiences. And Keith Armstrong‘s projects to develop art-science and ecology-based collaborations with scientists, musicians, dancers, critical theorists and performers.

With Vicki, I talked about the parallels between the burgeoning area of arts and science, and that of arts and creative ageing. Both are emerging and experimental practices. For both, the work needs to be is excellent to be taken seriously.

Is there space in the UK for a commissioning organisation like ANAT that supports large-scale, artist-led, research-driven projects looking at ageing, considering older people’s needs and supporting writers working in age care settings?

Another thought: Everyone aspires towards excellence, but everyone brings their own cultural references and ideas to their notion of what’s great. ANAT motivated me to think that I’d like all literary projects with older people to be excellent…and also diverse. It’s better to have many model of good practice. For me, excellence is in variety and difference and pushing at the edges of the artform to make something new.


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