Happy New Year to all our jelly friends.
2010 is the start of a new decade and also will see a different year for jelly. We will no longer have a town centre home from 1 March and sadly that means that some of the services we provide will no longer be available until we find a new home.
We will still be working to develop the organisation, work with other Reading art groups and individuals and deliver town centre exhibitions and events. We want to thank you for your support over the past 16 years and look forward to it continuing. Watch this space for details of what we are up to – we have a lot planned.
In the meantime, below is a letter sent to the lead arts officers and councilors at the beginning of December 09, asking what was their vision for the future of Reading, please feel free to leave a comment here if you have anything you would like to add. There have been no responses to this email yet.
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This is an end-of-year email to update you on where things currently stand regarding the re-homing Jelly and Open for Art.
Unfortunately, despite all our considerable efforts, as a result of the enforced departure from the space we have been utilising at The Old Town Hall there is no home for Jelly to go to, nor the other organisations that currently work with Jelly in the space – the Voice Studio, hang-on, arjeea21 and The Outcasts. This means that Jelly will no longer be able to offer the current busy and diverse programme of activities in one town centre location, including popular workshops for children and adults and support to up-and-coming young artists.
Since we were given the news in August that we would have to leave, I have been continually looking for a place to re-house Jelly, the work we do and the other organisations we work with. We have a creative community who all value the space and can grow and deliver from it.
The biggest problem we face is finding appropriate space that is affordable, combined with the uncertainty of funding which means that it is difficult for us to be able to plan for the future and work out exactly what programme we can deliver.
The value of what Jelly delivers is undoubtedly more than any oversimplified perception as solely a provider of art workshops. Rather, we have received recognition nationally and internationally, with our heart and soul still embedded in Reading. Jelly is also:
• helping other organisations grow
• running networks (both in the real world and online)
• creating and developing a community through its extensive mailing list of artists and delivering artists’ training
• working with TVU and the University of Reading
• developing new initiatives across the town.
Jelly is passionate about the Arts. We believe that a town with the status and confidence of Reading must have, and actively support, a creative community as part of its soul. However the future for Jelly without a central hub is destabalising, and the outlook for us alongside other vulnerable arts organisations in this town is bleak.
This does not bode well for arts and culture in a town like ours. We are staring in the face a future with no artists’ studios, when the Barracks eventually go, with the loss of the Jelly space no central focus, and no affordable space for artists/groups to emerge and meet. In spite of this feeling of uncertainty, should we just stop now?
Open for Art
In the face of this Jelly has been working on. We have recently collaborated with Reading UK CIC to create Open for Art. You may have already have heard about this via the e-news and hang-on mailing, but as a reminder:
Open for Art is a partnership project between jelly and Reading UK CIC, utilising Reading’s empty shop windows with art from Reading based artists. This follows a successful pilot project in June 2009 creating pop-up galleries in Reading. Working with the landlords and agents of Reading we will be using temporary spaces, creating a visual profile for the arts and showing Reading’s individuality as a town
• There are three more units in the pipeline
• The front window of Friars Walk will be housing final-year student work from the University of Reading Fine Art department
• Higgs Printers shop (as was) on Station Hill will house a piece by a current Open Hand Open Space Studio Member
• Suntan Clinic (as was) on Butter Market will hopefully have work in from January 2010 by artists from Reading Guild of Artists to coincide with their exhibition at the Museum.
• I have also been talking to Sony about showing the films commissioned by the Reading Experimental Film Festival on a loop, they are saying maybe after Christmas.
We have been getting a great response from people and below is a taster of the email feedback I have had received recently.
My question for you all is what is the future for the arts in Reading? And who will provide active support? We need to open up the debate about how arts organisations can emerge and thrive, and how the council and others can support them to enable them to develop and help build Reading’s reputation as a cultural, creative, artistic place.
I sincerely hope that we can begin the new year with renewed vigour, and find ways to work together to make this happen.
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Please feel free to leave your viewpoint in the comments below