What is an Artist Run Initiative? An Artist run space or initiative is exactly as the name suggests- a space run by artists. It is a not for profit organisation made up of a collective of artists and other volunteers who may serve as a contributing artist; or independently as an accountant, manager or a host of other positions relevant to the running of the operation. Funding is usually acquired through local or government grants and contributions from the artists themselves who may wish to exhibit there. Donations from the public and philanthropic interests are also important to the running of these initiatives.
There are a number of these initiatives dotted around Australia and the world. To give you an example of just a few that I have frequented… Blindside is in Melbourne’s Nicholson Street Building. A good way to find out more about what the aim of an initiative is to read their mission statement. Blindside supports art practices that are ‘on the periphery, for it is there that creativity thrives and the new is born’. Blindside are also strong advocates of contemporary art practices that ‘actively engages and challenges a diverse audience, creating new dialogues’. The exhibitons that I have seen there have certainly lived up to this statement, especially in relation to the materials, the use of space and the thematic approach to the work.
An example of an outer suburban Artist Run Initative is The Hut Gallery in Ferntree Gully. Seventy Years ago, the Hut Gallery was born-it has a fascinating history. According to Treasurer Dorothy Davies, if you want to have an exhibition at The Hut, a 25% commission is taken which goes back into the general running of the gallery, such as heating, lighting and general maintenance. The gallery committee will hang and organise the show. In 2007 the gallery was fortunate to receive a large grant from the Local Council to refurbish. Often the gallery will run art competitions and exhibitions with prizes sponsored by local businesses.
Colour Box Studio in Footscray has held various pop up shops, workshops and projects which help to keep the space running, establishing strong links with the community.
I have also included a link to a list of ARI’S as a separate page at the top of this blog.