Gillian Bates takes a look at the lighter side of life and work as a freelance in the arts.
I have never before exercised my democratic voting rights in my pyjamas, having just finished off the best part of a really good bottle of red wine. But, here in the East Midlands we are part of a new voting system. Gone are the ballot boxes in the Church Hall and those gentle but weary returning officers. Now we must have two envelopes and someone to witness our efforts (while not actually seeing how we vote, which is tricky if you are side by side on the sofa, with half an eye on the telly).
It all contributed to make my vote in the European Elections seem scarcely significant.
The odd thing about this is that, in my region, European funding has had a massive influence on the arts for several years. Indeed, in my two years as a consultant, there have been very few projects I?ve been involved in, which haven?t had a logo saying ?Funded through the European Regional Development Fund? somewhere on the print. However, now that ten more countries have joined the EC, it seems likely that this particular funding stream will move on to pastures new.
Are we ready for this? I think not. In the past, an exit strategy for an EC-funded arts project meant that if you understood the application criteria, you could repackage an existing project as a new one, receive more funding and get on with things. If this funding stream truly dries up, I have an enormous fear that dedicated arts workers will lose jobs, and their projects, which have so enriched the communities they serve, will quietly shrivel and die.
Do we have a proper exit strategy? Do we heck. I fear we are fiddling while Rome burns. Might as well, because in two years? time we won?t be able to afford the matchsticks, let alone the fiddles.
Gillian Bates is a freelance arts marketing consultant.