AT BRIGHTON FESTIVAL, A REAL-LIFE EXHIBIT OF THE ART OF COLLABORATIONBy Victoria Bryan
[Third in a series looking at the similarities between Long Beach and Brighton, England. Both are home to many artists, a happy circumstance that Brighton annually leverages into a month of major arts festivals and events that reach into every part of the community. Could Long Beach do the same?]
BRIGHTON, England—Question: What do artists and people working in the nonprofit sector have in common?
Answer: Big dreams and not enough money to realize them.
When I heard about a collaboration involving Australian wearable art produced by both disabled and abled-bodied artists (CasArt), a runway fashion show in one of Brighton’s most sought-after arts venues and a Brighton charity called Spiral that provides opportunities for people with learning disabilities, I marked it on my calendar immediately. As I sat in The Old Market theatre, the experience of waiting for Red Rock to Royal Pavilion to start was like a huge sugar rush as anticipation crackled in the air around the 200 audience members.
Through fundraisers, including an 80-kilometer bike ride, the Australian artists collected money to send a team to the Brighton Fringe Festival, but there wasn’t enough cash to bring the models they needed. Enter the Spiral participants, more than happy to model the work of their Australian colleagues. Brighton’s mayor, Anne Meadows, was on hand to support the Spiral models and the Australian team.
Following the event at The Old Market, the wearable art moved to The Spiral Charity Shop, to be showcased and sold in a gallery above the shop, providing much-needed funding for both organizations.
Simone Guascoine, program coordinator, is looking forward to establishing the CasArt program as a fully independent social enterprise when the group returns home. There is not enough funding in the original organizational structure to grow the program into its mission, so there are plans to build revenue through diverse events and strategies. The lack of grant funding could have curtailed future plans, but Simone believes that “Being unfunded has given our artists the opportunity to take ownership of the program. Following three years of funding their own art program, the CasArt Artists have now created a fashion label and look forward to becoming a self-funded venture.”
This collaborative presentation at the Brighton Fringe Festival is a big step toward building CasArt’s sustainability, and plans now include continued communication with CasArt via Skype and Facebook, as well as joint projects.
The Brighton Festival brings many international artists to the city. While the Australian artists are showing at Spiral, here are some other international programs happening around town:
The Belgian theatre company, The Berlin Theatre Group, presents Land’s End, a production co-commissioned by Brighton Festival.
The Trisha Brown Dance Company of New York will perform four works for the Brighton Festival.
Meanwhile, at the Fringe, Anglo/Iranian creative director, Philippa Vafadari, presents her company Bandbazi in Swimming in the Persian Gulf.
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Blogger Bio: Victoria Bryan is an artist, curator, teacher and has been a Long Beach resident since 1985. Originally from London, Victoria lived in Brighton during school holidays with her grandmother, and later at her parents’ house after they settled there. During the past nine years, Victoria has taught in the Art and Theatre Departments at CSULB, and the Arts Management program at Claremont Graduate University. Currently, she is very pleased to be teaching the Arts Capstone class for future elementary teachers, in the CSULB Liberal Studies Department.