What, Who, When, and How has No Boundaries inspired and provoked? What has been said that has not been said before, and where should the debate go next? A panel of contributors in Bristol and York join together to reflect on what they will be taking away.
Robert Duffton has agreed to chair this session in Bristol, Kully Thiari in York.
Jo Verrent: Last State of The Arts conference, I switched off because I’m hearing impaired – this time, I was invited to be involved. Everyone online can get good access now. We’ve set the bar. It’s not perfect – panelists, if you don’t get your talk in before an event, it can’t be audio-described, so you’re being selfish - but it’s a start. Diversity has been here since the beginning and is right here now. We’ve talked about class, race, pay not play. Collaboration and partnership.
Ann Bonnar: In a way I think of us as a tribe within the subsidized arts and something like this is a ritual, this coming together. We meet our prophets and learn the new language. What I’ve found that’s a compelling vision of the future is that there’s disruptive change going on – in this world, we move forward, and of course art is valued. We don’t want barriers – there are many helpful phrases but – we need to be clear and have a consistent language, focus on making not being advocates for ourselves. The default position to be in isn’t the best one, do we think that just because we’ve talked that then we’ve done it? Will we go back to the status quo?
Kate Yedigaroff: diversity has echoed with me – specifically challenging and daring ourselves to talk to people we don’t know and doing things we don’t know how to – so let’s echo what Nii said. It’s made me want to be brave. I was very inspired by Nii, Jude, Sophie – listening to Sophie, I felt genuinely jealous about not having YouTube when I grew up.
Jim Hollingford: I love the tech, people online got a pretty damn good experience. I quickly learned that the discussion online is just as important – one thing we worried about is that a ‘proper experience’ of discussion is only really available online. What are people sitting elsewhere in the world thinking? What does it mean to them? I don’t think the Internationalism Session would have excited them most. It was the local stories that matter: David Lockwood in Exeter, Kully and Sandra in Doncaster, Joy from Nairobi.
Alan Davey: I’ve come away with a lot of challenges. ‘You’ve got to get to the table or otherwise you’ll be on the menu’ – we need to be brave and get out there, we need to shout about why a creative future is worth fighting for. It’s very clear that the paternal model of funding is past its time – we’ve got all these dilemmas, do we restart to adapt or shrink and preserve? [Referencing Pete Seeger,] we’re in an early morning kind of situation. I take courage from this conference.
Fiona Gaspar: York’s space and informality has worked so well to bring people together. A conference is great in the hands artists. The story that will stay with me is Cast – it connected with George Ferguson saying ‘If they’re not involved, they won’t get it.’ It’s about being part of something and feeling ownership. Live experiences bring people together. I don’t know why diversity is shrinking but I’ll definitely get out of my comfort zone. Sometimes it’s hard to do this but it makes the process much richer and I intend to hold onto that. If we don’t do it, things won’t move on. How do we move away from [audience] relationships just being about a financial transaction? We should also look at what has changed: collaboration is getting better, young people are getting more involved.
Shreela Ghosh: I’ve seen the difference between knowledge and wisdom. There were some absolutely stonking women speakers here so I want to thank the programmers. Yes, I agree that diversity needs vigilance but we must remember that we have come a long way. We have to be mindful of history – I live in Delhi, in Delhi you still feel the partition story – and [colonial] moving of great swathes of people. Internationalism and diversity need to link – we need to make internationalism the new normal. I don’t want to see sessions on internationalism anymore. Let’s bring in other cities and other time zones.