My name is Julia Schauerman, and um… I am a musician and I teach and I got involved with Spare Tyre because the music being community musician.
I got into music when I was 17/18, and it got me from being quite shy person to build up confidence. So I just wanted to give other people the opportunity of just finding their musicality.
If I am going into participatory arts projects as the community artist, it’s about me sitting down with people and working with them. I am facilitating it in the sense I am making sure that is a comfortable space that is safe, that people have an idea of what we might be aiming for. But that everyone has the opportunity of contributing in some way, so in terms of the projects we’ve done, with… you know, I’ve done with Spare Tyre is very much about… yeah this, for me participatory is we all gets stuck in, that it’s not prescriptive other than in the sense that if there is an end goal of a performance that everyone has the opportunity of sharing their ideas and listening to one and other. As a facilitator, I will jump in and support if there is a little bit of conflict, or if I feel someone is not being heard, or that maybe they’re not being able to express, and you know, sort of help them and support them to express what it is that they’re wanting to share. But also the way that Spare Tyre work, it is about collaboration. It is not patronising, it is not taking something and dumping it on, it’s working with and giving people of voice. And I mean, I’ve learnt a lot from, I’d like to think that I brought something to Spare Tyre but I’ve learnt so much and I still use that in my own work. In education, I sort of approach education as an artists, in a way, sort of that collaboration, the… and helping people find their voice.
I remember particularly with um… working with Arti, and Jo Paul. We’d sit down… It almost like we’d um… There might be a theme that Arti would bring to the table and say “ok I am thinking of the work of Edward Lear”, which in the end led to ‘Ridiculous Recipes’ you know, the idea of nonsense, and you know, it might bring in this, it might bring in that. So the three of us will make suggestions of where that might go. But it would always be the case then that when we actually took the theme, we wouldn’t be too specific or prescriptive to the um.. student stroke performers. But we’d introduce some ideas but then Arti was always talking about this idea of play, you know, just experimenting. So three or four weeks of just throwing around ideas and seeing what happened and for the student performers to actually start shaping up ideas and then that would inform the devising process which they were as much involved in as we were. And then going to rehearsal and performers, and it was, it was all very very professional in the sense of that everyone worked so hard, everyone was committed to it. So it was a wonderful experience, what was always lovely was that we’d finished up with a piece of work that we wouldn’t have necessarily known how we’d get there. But when we go back to our initial meeting, we can see those threads, but it was very much collaboration rather than us dumping an idea on people so they couldn’t have a sense of ownership. Whatever they have to offer, making sure I tapped into that, so that everyone was part and parcel rather than, you know, someone feeling token within it, but it really all working together. So yeah, for participatory making sure that everyone is involved, everyone feels comfortable with what they are doing. If someone really doesn’t like something, finding, you know, what it is, they do want to do.
Some people come to projects knowing that they got that opportunity to share their concerns, share… you know, so if you are marginalized as people disabilities, older people, women, lesbian and gay, you know, Spare Tyre gives them that opportunity, that platform, so that they can express themselves. Thing that Spare Tyre is about is people bringing them stories into the work. They don’t shy away from things. They don’t patronise, so… giving voice, giving people a platform and challenging, challenging people.
It’s not all sweetness and light, some of the things come up in shows do challenge people, challenge people’s perceptions. Obviously that’s something that performers are wanting to share, that’s something that they’re bringing forward. The company has had a commitment to its performers, so they’ve nurtured people and seen them through to being able to work with other organizations.
People very quickly once they come into contact with it, want to give it their best. There‘s really, there’s good will there, but there is um… there is something that their tap into, there is something very special about Spare Tyre and I think other artists gain a lot from their associations with it
Julia talked to us about her role as a facilitator and the process of devising during a Spare Tyre project.