TEAM MEMBER BLOG: Karen
I’ve been working with SOLA on and off for nearly 13 years. In that time I’ve learnt loads and been given great opportunities to use and develop my skills in arts project management and workshop delivery. These days Lead Artist Adele brings me in on a freelance basis as needed. In 2018 I worked on some great projects, with loads of fun thrown in...
My year at SOLA began with planning and managing a party in celebration of the organisation and its work in March. We invited participants old and new to lead activity, from crafting to dancing with performances, storytelling, an Ethiopian coffee ceremony and a feast thrown in for good measure...
May saw me travel to Paris with Adele to support her work on the Create project – bringing together art therapists from across Europe to develop new methodologies for working with asylum seeking and refugee communities. I learnt a great new workshop warm up, ‘amoeba’, which came in useful just a week later at a workshop I was leading in Budapest... Ask me to demonstrate if you ever bump into me at an event, it’s crazy but definitely breaks the ice! We did some quality eating and drinking in our private time. Macarons in Montmatre... mmmm!
My most regular work with SOLA over the past few years has been as Creative Producer of FESTIVAL31. I had to take a wee step back last year, and took on the role of Curator instead. With the pressure off I was able to really focus on creating an engaging exhibition experience with provocations by our Artists in Residence at Tate Exchange Liverpool, an exhibition of works submitted through an open call at Unity Theatre, and a night of film including shorts submitted from around the world.
Finally I was offered a new challenge in the autumn of 2018 – designing and delivering a course for artists that explored self employment, commissioning processes and funding. Nicola from SOLA ran complementary sessions on social media and web design. We had a great group of seven experienced and talented local artists who needed a boost in the more practical and boring stuff that artists need to do to make a passion into an earner. The sessions were a success and we hope to run them again... keep your eyes peeled!
SOLA has continued to grow and develop new strands of work for local communities. With new staff members and volunteers coming on board, 2018 was an exciting year to be so involved. The office is buzzing and so warm and welcoming. Do get involved if you see something you fancy, there’s always a warm welcome and a great mix of weird and wonderful people (... not all weird, just some of us ;-) ).
This year will see changes again as I disappear for maternity leave. It’ll be weird watching F31 from the sidelines and being less involved, but I’ll definitely be popping up at some events so do say hello!