Written for the 2013 Independent Street Arts Network conference
The last ISAN Conference I attended was in Derby in 2010 but for me, this year's event had a completely different feel. The sector has developed dramatically over the space of a few years, obviously helped by the effect of London 2012 and the Cultural Olympiad. The delegates also seemed to be a really healthy mix of artists, producers, and promoters, which of course made for good networking between sessions.
Overall I found the speakers engaging, passionate and articulate with a true understanding of the challenging economic climate we are working in. The need to broaden partnership horizons shone through and I feel that the momentum required to capitalise on 2012 is being approached by many in a measured and strategic way. 'Outdoor Arts' means many things to many people, but amongst the ISAN membership there was a definite unified feeling that the art being created was at the heart of the sector's successful development.
Derby Festé was lucky enough to be offered a bursary to attend the ISAN Conference 2013 so thanks very much to the MMOA Team for arranging this – it was greatly appreciated.
Derby Festé is part of the Without Walls Associate Touring Network which has been a fantastic way to enable the producers (Derby LIVE, Déda & QUAD) to develop and secure future funding for the festival.
As in many places, Local Authority funding for culture is under threat in Derby. However, with the Without Walls backing in place, Derby City Council has pledged financial support to Festé for the next five years.
It is hoped that that this will in turn lever in longer term commitment from Arts Council England. It is important to note that the arts infrastructure in Derby is still very much under threat and the thinking that you can have the flower without feeding the roots could be seen as a somewhat short-sighted approach.
We are very proud of the festival that has grown over the past seven years and we have had amazing support along the way from ISAN partners Arts Agenda and Walk The Plank. It feels now that Festé has turned a corner and come of age. We are looking at how we create an organisational structure which is sustainable and economically viable and have had some success in ticketing for particular events within the festival.
The appetite for Festé in the city is significant but the producers must ensure that it works for the benefit of all and does not become just another hungry artistic mouth which needs feeding.
Co-Producer, Derby Festé