Raising Money for Reading Movement: A Creativity Works Fundraising Success Story
Creativity Works’ volunteer support worker, Camilla Nelson updates us on her thrilling project which she has recently secured funds for, from the Arts Council England, following a Creativity Works fundraising workshop.
Khaled Barghouthi and I are thrilled to have received Arts International Development Funding (AIDF) – a combined fund from Arts Council England and the British Council – to develop our fledgling piece ‘Reading Movement’. The idea for the piece came from an hour’s collaboration initiated as part of the Secret Hotel Creative Summer Lab we attended together in Denmark last summer (August 2015). I felt very lucky to be the only writer among a handful of really talented performers – dancers, dramaturgs, actors, acrobats, drone flyer and even a circus artist. I have been interested in developing my language work in a more embodied way for many years now and am always on the look out for collaborators with whom to explore new approaches and dynamics. This summer lab gave me a chance to explore the physical side of making words in the company of some incredibly talented performers. One of these was Khaled Barghouthi, a Palestinian dancer. I was immediately interested in Khaled’s journey as an artist coming from an area I had heard so much about but never visited. My sister has lived and worked in Gaza and Ramallah so I had heard a lot about it but it was all second hand. Meeting Khaled and seeing him dance these stories – his stories – was really remarkable. I was so moved by Khaled’s performance and impressed by his ability to convey emotion so palpably and engagingly, without the use of words, that I was eager to find a way to work with him the minute we had a few hours free.
A still from the five minute ‘nucleus’ improvisation of Reading Movement. Image: Sohar Villegas
We booked an hour of studio time so that we could work together to see what happened. I was determined to make the most of this time. My aim in entering into this work was to have Khaled move me out of and extend my habitual practices of reading and writing. So, to begin with, I set up my desk in the dance studio as I could normally work: computer, papers, pen, phone, books were all arranged as I would normally work and I began working with them in my habitual way. I asked Khaled to observe me performing these writing and reading activities for 5 minutes before beginning to interrupt and extend these movements. I then asked Khaled to begin dancing and I would try to co-opt his movements into language-making. It was only once Khaled suggested that we try working with reading aloud that things began to come together. After an hour of improvising we developed a 5-minute performance, the starting point for our work-in-progress: “Reading Movement”. In the work-so-far, I begin by sitting on the floor with a pile of movement/text-related books. As I begin to read aloud, Khaled manipulates my body. He moves my body into unfamiliar positions at varying speeds. The reading pace is sustained throughout. In this early improvisation we have begun to explore the disconnect between habitual reading behaviour and its relationship with the body. Our immediate plans for the work is to begin to break down this disconnect so that the movements begin to impact upon the evolution of the text. We are at such an early stage of development and have a lot of exciting work in store. We begin developing the work in earnest this February.
We owe a big thank you to Creativity Works for their support in our application for funding. Prior to attending the Creativity Works Art of Fundraising Workshop I was suffering from funding block. All those familiar negative thoughts – ‘my work isn’t good enough’, ‘why would they pick me?’ etc – were holding me back; unnecessarily as it turns out! I had heard how difficult it was to get Arts Council funding from people whose work I really admired, who had been turned down. If they couldn’t get it, why would I? But you have to be in it to win it. Or, as my mother would say: let them do their own refusing! I went along to The Art of Fundraising workshop curated by Kate O’Malley, as part of the Creativity Works coCreate programme, in early September when my collaboration with Khaled was still fresh in my mind. It was a jam-packed morning that included advice from professional bid writer, Jo Byron, and talks from Peter Salt (B&NES) and Ruth Kapadia (Arts Council). It was a fantastic opportunity to air concerns about applying for funding and to ask advice first hand. The best part of the workshop was the opportunity to make an elevator pitch to the Arts Council and/or B&NES (in the form of Peter and Ruth): 60 seconds to outline your project and ask for the cash. I pitched to Peter and he was incredibly encouraging. Talking to him afterwards made me feel sure that this project had a good chance of securing funds and that I should go for it. The workshop provided us with a veritable bible of relevant funding sources, including some private funds that we may not have been aware of that don’t have emails or websites (you just have to write a letter and send it off)! I had read about the AIDF fund but wasn’t quite sure whether to apply or not. The encouragement and advice I received at this workshop made up my mind and here we are, four moths later, with funding to develop the work – what a result!
We aim to develop a thirty-minute performance with the funds. This will involve an intense period of creative development: 12 days in Brussels (February) & 12 days in England (March). Each fortnight of creative collaboration and development will be supported by 8 hours mentoring with a specially selected professional from each country (TBC in Brussels & Katrina Brown in England). Each fortnight’s work will culminate in a private viewing with relevant professionals, followed by a Q & A session to generate constructive feedback and interest in the work. And we are excited to see where it goes from there. We have already received an invitation from the Palestinian Dance Festival to perform in Ramallah in April – so more funding is now needed! Our creative journey has been somewhat complicated by the travel barriers that Khaled encounters as a Palestinian. We are still waiting for confirmation of his Brussels and UK visa to allow us to develop our project in these countries while he applies to do a Masters degree in dance in the US. Geography is a problem for our work but one that I hope we will be able to overcome and turn into a positive. We hope that we will be touring ‘Reading Movement’ across the UK and the US once this initial period of development is completed, so with any luck ‘Reading Movement’ will be coming to a venue near you very soon! Massive thanks to Kate O’Malley, Ruth Kapadia, Peter Salt and Jo Byron for contributing to such a fantastic workshop – we might not have done it without you.
For more information on Camilla’s work visit: www.singingapplepress.com