The west of Melbourne is alive with creative talent including arts manager Chantal Wynter who over the last few years, has been working independently to foster and showcase artists and creative spaces through her unique and insightful art tours. Through her small operation, Wynter Projects, she’s hosted a number of tours around Footscray and the Docklands. She’s also initiated the popular West Projections which will be back in 2015.
If there’s one person who knows how to get peeps movin’ – it’s Chantal! If you haven’t been on one of her art tours, you need to go on one: walking + art + creativity + storytelling = creative bliss! And Colour Box Studio is proud to be teaming up with Chantal Wynter to present an exclusive series of art tours in 2015, the first of which, FOOT IT in Footscray, kicks off on 28 March (click here for details). We recently caught up with Chantal (a creative powerhouse!) to ask her about her projects and her arts management creative practice.
Featured image above: West Projections 2014 by Wynter Projects. Photo courtesy of Colour Box Studio.
Can you please provide a brief overview of what you’re doing at the moment?
I am an independent arts manager facilitating Wynter Projects. Wynter Projects about developing and delivering projects, including regular guided art walks, art events and creative collaborations. I’m currently working on an exciting project presented in June at Docklands in collaboration with curator Anabelle Lacroix and artist Deb Bain-King. Instructional Piece 1# will be a program of artists responding to the rich history of Docklands in various venues. My role will be organising guided art walks to each of these unique locations that will include artist talks and performances. I am also preparing for an annual art event I host and curate in Footscray called ‘West Projections’. This is a series of video projections and sound pieces in galleries, bars/restaurants and public spaces in Footscray. This will be complemented by guided walks with artist talks in August. West Projections is a unique way to experience Footscray through projections at night.
What has been your career pathway leading to this work?
I am an artist and have been involved in the arts for over 10 years. Three years ago, l decided to take on a more curatorial role, project managing and facilitating my own creative projects. I believe sustainability and wide accessibility in the Arts can be generated through creative collaboration. My previous experience was in more traditional gallery environments. Through conversation, I found that audiences like to hear and see the processes behind the artists work from the artist themselves, and for a lot of audiences these conversations ultimately created a stronger connection to the work and the arts generally. I began reviewing artists’ exhibitions online and conducting short video interviews. This lead me to study a Graduate Diploma of Arts Management then l went on to complete my Masters of Arts Management. During this time l developed Wynter Projects and began co-facilitating at The Front Gallery in Docklands.
Have you done volunteering, internships or work experience?
As much as it shouldn’t be the case, volunteering and work experience is part of starting out in the Arts industry. You need to gain experience to know your area of interest. Unfortunately, the Arts is underpaid and undervalued, particularly in the current political environment. However, it’s still important to do work experience and volunteering for your own personal growth, but know your limits and be confident in your abilities. Internships are advantageous as they can lead to employment. The Arts is an industry and we, as artists need to accept that and not fall short or undersell our skills and experience. On a positive note, l have met fantastic people and had very enriching experiences through volunteering so l would recommend volunteering to others who are starting out in the Arts industry.
In the beginning what were the challenges in entering the arts management industry?
Building a reputation was a challenge. Part of this included convincing new collaborators that you have the skills to develop and deliver a successful creative project. As l began working independently, l didn’t have the reputation of a small or medium arts organisation behind me. I felt like a one woman show – which can be really daunting. You soon realise that you have a lot of people who want to collaborate. This is where contacts and networks become essential. Introducing yourself, initiating conversation and following up with people is vital. The beauty of the Arts is that people can be generous; they are willing to take chances and offer you opportunities where possible. It’s not easy, but just keep talking and meeting people would be my advice!
What do you find rewarding about working in the Arts Management industry?
The most rewarding aspect has been developing programs to a curious public while offering an alternative platform and exposure to artists. The On Foot art walks that l have developed have been especially satisfying and dear to my heart because ‘On Foot’ was my first independent project. Hearing fantastic artists, curators, directors of galleries and studio participants talking about their work is an inspiring experience. I’m often that annoying person asking lots of questions! Every art walk is different, surprising and enjoyable; it can be like walking with a group of friends enjoying awesome art in a relaxed and intimate environment.
What do you find challenging about working in the arts management industry?
Sustainability. Federal and State Governments are reducing funding in many areas of the Arts. I think cuts will affect the way artists, art organisations and arts festivals develop, deliver and present artwork. This includes spaces such as smaller galleries, performance, rehearsal space and studios. Spaces will be more temporary in nature.
Generally, l believe the future sustainability of the Arts will rely more heavily on philanthropy, business and corporate sponsorship. Although, l believe governments should be largely responsible for funding the Arts, initiating the corporate funding conversation requires questions such as what is the value and worth of the Arts in a commodity-based (Capitalist) society? And most importantly, how do we maintain artistic independence and autonomy? Particularly in light of the artist boycott at the Sydney Biennale in 2014 and comments made by Minister of the Arts George Brandis. This means we in the arts need to be looking at other avenues and approaches of sustainability. I am in the process of researching and developing a more collaborative funding approach – so hope to discuss that in the future!
What would be your top five grant writing tips?
‘Aim’, ‘Motivation’, ‘Need’, ‘Budget’ and to explain all of that with ‘Clarity’, ditch the jargon.
You should be able to explain a project in two sentences. One of the best things l learnt at University was the spiel. Not just to your fellow colleagues but to the general public. At your next family gathering, approach the less interested person in the Arts, corner them and explain your project in two sentences. They are the best barometer of an idea and will force you to answer and articulate your idea. Volunteer to be on an arts panel and see first hand what is involved in the process of a grant or project approval decision-making process. Local and State government often have these opportunities. This experience gives you excellent insight of the grant and funding procedures.
What advice would you give to those wanting to get into Arts Management?
Arts Management is really broad. It’s good to get some practical experience in your field of interest. Don’t underestimate or undervalue your skills, preserver and take risks, as this is essential to know what works and what doesn’t. Add passion, vigour and BOOM you’re an arts manager!
Tell us about your upcoming FOOT IT art tours with Colour Box Studio.
Foot It is a series of guided walking tours of galleries, creative spaces, pop-up performances, public art and backyard studios. Meet the innovative creatives, superbly talented makers and the Avant-garde artists.
For the first evening tour on 28 March 2015, FOOT IT will begin in Footscray from Legendary Trocadero Art Space who are celebrating their ten-year anniversary. A visit within the same building to pioneering. Down the road to newly arrived Metro West Community Arts Hub. Hop it to public artwork with artist talk by Steven Rhall. A visit to the Art Box residents and ending with our friends at Littlefoot Bar.
More information and bookings for FOOT IT in Footscray: CLICK HERE
COLOUR BOX STUDIO CALENDAR
• 28 MARCH: Foot It in Footscray – An exciting art crawl uncovering the best creative spaces and peeps in the West!