SPIN Intervention for the "Solidarity" Thread of the SOTA Almanac, Fall 2018
SPIN is a support & research platform for artistic practices, run by 3 artists from the performance field since 2011. You can read about what it does here: www.spinspin.be.
Solidarity was a main motivation in gathering together as SPIN. We wanted to counteract a tendency in the performance field that individualised and fragmented artists' trajectories and support - artists usually choosing between project-hopping with short/mid-term support, or competing to become one of those (very few) to build a 'classical' company around their work alone. Instead through SPIN we attempted a practice of 'collective autonomy' in which the collective supports each individual's differing basic needs over the long term. To do this we mutualised our professional financial resources, but also importantly our time, experience, network, content-dialogue, reflection and other kinds of support. We found it important that SPIN be artist-run, so the organisation could adapt itself in direct relation to changes in the artists' practices over time.
Concretely, SPIN receives structural funding so it can give a skeleton of support and administration for the three artists (who are all in different tempos of research and production). With this funding SPIN is able to provide a crucial core of long term development support budget - then each time an artist needs budget for a specific creation or research, SPIN helps them raise this as project funding. This mix of long term and and project funding allows each artist to pursue their own changing tempo and focus, without constantly negotiating within the group for a finite artistic-creation budget.
The shape of SPIN's organisation shifted over the years; at first we 'shared' the skills and time of one fulltime producer who handled all of our practices. This was a juggling act of coordination, and developed into overwork for that central figure. Meanwhile our artistic practices also matured and diverged, so we shifted to a new model in which each artist designs their own trajectory with different development / production teams. This complexified SPIN to involved more collaborators, so the administration core was also strengthened to mediate a greater flow of information and exchanges.
SPIN's second core practice, which runs separately to this artistic support, focuses on knowledge-development in the arts field at large, with peers, colleagues and institutions. This is also financed with the structural funding, and explores solidarity through co-learning, exchange, and collaboration. Some of these initiatives were classical seminar events, but many were more experimental, dreamy or celebratory - lasting a few hours or many months. There were two living-room festivals, a camp-ground, a treasure-hunt, a political choir, a reading club, radio shows, and many co-learning gatherings on the subjects of work, political art, and artistic practice - more than 20 initiatives happened so far, involving the arts field, institutions, public, and people working outside the arts
For us SPIN has been a steep learning curve in the joys and pitfalls of collectivity, as well as the mechanics of shaping an organisation. The three artists are not 'qualified' as managers or directors, so this continues to be an experiment of learning-by-doing - SPIN has territories of great lucidity and efficiency, and some swamps and tangles of ongoing development… Our current questions include: how to 'open' SPIN to support more practices; strategies to maintain an artistic practice at the same time as running an organisation; and recognising the practices of independent 'art-workers' we collaborate with (eg. on production and development) who face the same precarious work conditions as artists.