‘Let Artists Be Artists’ — 4 artists appointed to experimental employment scheme in Gloucester

Strike A Light
4 min readDec 13, 2023

Gloucester-based arts charity Strike A Light (SAL) has appointed four artists to ‘just be artists’ — working on an employment salary for 2.5 years, with no predetermined outcomes to their activity.

The four artists are Munotida Chinyanga, Viv Gordon, Ed Patrick and Jamaal O’Driscoll.

The 4 ‘LABA’ artists. From left to right: Ed Patrick, Munotida Chinyanga, Viv Gordon, Jamaal O’Driscoll

Munotida is an ‘anti-disciplinary practitioner’, creating work primarily through direction and sound design; Viv is a theatre maker, survivor activist & arts and mental health campaigner; Ed (aka Kid Carpet) is a musician, video and theatre maker who looks to ‘make superheroes out of everyday people and ordinary things’; Jamaal is a professional dancer working across a variety of dance styles, especially breaking.

The scheme the four join, called ‘Let Artists Be Artists’ (LABA), is designed to be an experiment in countering precarity and providing stability for artists.

It’s based on the twin beliefs that ‘arts and cultural activity flourishes most when it’s free from the project treadmill — chasing prescribed targets to find hand-to-mouth funding. And that when arts activity flourishes in our city, people are healthier, happier and have a better quality of life.’ (Strike A Light)

LABA is funded by SAL’s uplift from its most recent grant as one of Arts Council England’s ‘National Portfolio Organisations’ — meaning the money is channelled directly to artists.

The pressure on artists, and the depth of felt need for security and stable income, was clear to see in the application process — with submissions from more than 300 individuals.

In response to their appointment to the scheme, Ed said:

Let Artists Be Artists is a brilliant and revolutionary scheme which recognises and values artists. It begins to normalise the haphazard area where art meets economics and salaries.

Getting appointed to this opportunity/award/scheme/job will enable me to develop my practice, increasing the scale of work that I can offer in primary schools and get some mind-blowing, transformative, co-creative kids projects off the ground.

CAN’T FLIPPIN’ WAIT

Viv said:

I’m really thrilled to be one of the LABA artists — to be able to work alongside an arts organisation for two and a half years, to do some long-term, place-based durational work and see what happens when we get to do that. I really am excited about ‘occupying space’ — I want to take up space, and that’s what I’m gonna do!

Jamaal said:

Super excited to be working in Gloucester, with communities, with existing artists in the city, and kinda seeing what’s gonna happen — we don’t know exactly what the outcomes are but we kinda know what the goal is, and hopefully you’ll be on a journey with us to figure that out. Hopefully we’ll leave some ‘wow moments’ in the city over the next 2.5 years!

Munotida said:

Not only will this allow me to work consistently for the next 2.5 years, I will also have the privilege of trying and failing and playing which will lead to wilder ambition and strong artistic growth as opposed to the last two years of being stuck and weighed down. I’m thrilled to dive into this journey, to collaborate with the communities of Gloucester, and already the support from this incredible team has been both uplifting and inspiring, solidifying my belief in the extraordinary potential this opportunity holds.

Lynette Dakin, Executive Director of Strike A Light, said:

“We are so excited to announce the 4 artists on our Let Artists Be Artists scheme: each of them will bring their unique and brilliant character to Gloucester.

At Strike A Light, we always want to challenge entrenched systems and consider new ways of working. LABA is about rethinking how artists are supported — and, even more broadly, how we can support people without pressure or preconceived outcomes, without hoop-jumping; in ways that make it clear that people’s value is not the same thing as their ‘productivity’.

We are hugely grateful to the Arts Council who awarded us an uplift in our NPO to support this work. The majority of our uplift went directly to the salaries of these artists.

We look forward to sharing the findings of this work with them and the wider sector to support and advocate for a step-change in how artists are supported.”

The artists have started their roles and will be employed for 2.5 years. Strike A Light will be running a free online workshop about the LABA scheme, where people and organisations interested in the model can find out more, in January 2024.

For more information, see strikealight.org.uk

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