I did a degree and then a post grad in Arts Management in Cardiff and then I moved to London umm and I just did a job working for umm an advertising agency just for about nine months or so. It was more just to like get the experience of being an administrator actually because that’s what I, the way that I wanted to get into the arts and then I got a job at Spare Tyre after that. It looked like a really funky organisation and so that’s why I applied. I hadn’t before considered the idea of doing umm what’s, you know, what’s often called community arts, a sort of how Spare Tyre expl… how Spare Tyre were referring to themselves at the time. Umm but I just thought it looked really interesting umm and so that’s why I applied and then I got the job from there and that kind of really changed my outlook on what sort of work I wanted to do after that.
It was more about involving communities within the arts and then just being an integral part in creating some art umm which is then just given out as a piece of art to the public. When I joined we were having a lot of conversations about whether umm we should be using the word “community” or not umm and I think, I hope that Arti would agree, but I think (laughs) … my time at Spare Tyre it’s almost like when I first started we we took the word “community” out of the tagline. So it was “Community Theatre without Prejudice” and then it became “Theatre without Prejudice” because it was about promoting the artists as just being artists rather than being communities. So kind of taking that off because I think community often does get seen as just a nice little thing that happens umm to to people but it’s not necessarily “real art”. So I think that at the time that was that was kind of how things were and so we were kind of moving away from it and I feel like Spare Tyre went through a big lot of changes and did slightly different things in their new… in taking community back in again in a slightly different way and in a really positive way in using that word to be more about “yeah art can be from the community” (laughs) so it kind of come full circle really and it’s still can be really good art and I feel like there’s a lot more artists that involved the community in their work now as well.
Some of the projects that I’ve seen recently are much more about getting people really really involved and umm kind of getting them to create work and to develop their artistic umm skills themselves, which is really good. So I think that is a really positive change umm and I think that comes from organisations like Spare Tyre doing it and then… then creating, experimenting, creating really good practice and then that gets kind of gets fed into the bigger sector. So I think that’s a really big thing.
One of the things that umm I felt that I learned from Spare Tyre shows, which was really interesting, was about kind of the audience’s reaction. So we used to ask people to fill in forms and kind of ask, just chat to them as well and get people’s reactions and what they thought of the shows and one of the things that really came up all the time was the word “honest” because I think people felt like it was more honest than anything than other theatre that they had seen before. Umm and I think it’s cos yeah our artists were very very open and really trying to umm have their voice and bring across what they want to say but also just the way that they perform as well. I think it is in an honest way. There’s no pretence over it. They’re just very much full front, you know, let umm showing people who they are and I think that was a really good, that was a really nice thing to hear people saying that I hadn’t really thought about before and I felt like that was a really strong thing and that was a real, that’s a real something that just continued through all of the shows when I was working there.
There’s some people that just the way that our society is set up, they’re not going to be able to do a main, do a job that umm that we’ve set up because they’re just set up in such a way that it’s just not possible, especially people with severe learning disabilities but actually if they can contribute to society in lots of other ways. So… do… you know a piece of art that they’re someone then goes to see in an exhibition and just would never have expected from someone with learning disabilities, or just anyone, then that’s a huge thing to contribute.
One of the first moments where the artists were doing very individual pieces, the artists with learning disabilities had been invited to a kind of come forward with a piece they wanted to develop and so they had to kind of audition for it and Arti chose the ones that she thought were the strongest and had the most that could be developed. It was really brilliant the first time. It was done at the Round House and they kind of performed the pieces with David Munns doing some umm magic and kind of umm sitting in the middle. Umm and it was really incredible to watch because it because it had such a strong title as well about saying kind of “I’m an artist and you have to, you you should see what I’m doing cos I’m and artist just on the same level as everybody else” umm but also it was they’re really interesting pieces and very very personal pieces as well and then umm the second time it it came around I dunno it was, just watching it, it was a level of professionalism that just came out umm it was just really incredible and the artists really stepped up and just had so much confidence and it really felt like that should be you know a mainstream show. It was just really it was really really good. Umm so I think that was probably one of the ones that really stuck in my head cos I did get quite emotional.
If you go and see a show at the you know …(laughs)… the theatre it’s it’s kind of seen as a mainstream show. I don’t think you get that level of honesty because there’s always that kind of “I’m an actor and that’s what I do” rather than it just being like someone giving their story and doing it in a very profound and meaningful way.
Vicky was our General Manager from 2008 – 2015 and is now General Manager at Action Space, a visual arts organisation providing opportunities for learning disabled artists.
Vicky spoke to us about some of the projects she worked on during her time here.