Recent research via the Guardian found that £700 million is needed to give northern England (anywhere north of London) the same Arts Council funds and opportunities as those granted to London.
The North South divide lives on but that doesn’t mean that all the work done isn’t impactful, it just means we need more and there’s more to be developed. We need to keep things moving forward by building opportunities and continuing to support poets in a variety of ways in cities all across the country. London you’re alright but the rest of the country is also poppin’ and always has been, it just needs a bit more of a motor to help produce long term careers and not 5 minute success stories. *coughs* infrastructure and eco-systems pls *cough*.
That being said, what are Apples and Snakes Midlands going to do about it?
Well, well, well. There are many plans and things that can happen in the future but my main focus is on artistic development for the region. Workshops, masterclasses, courses, critique, critique, critique, all constructive of course and more performance opportunities/amplifying our poets nationally.
The lack of development opportunities for Midlands artists of all ages is astounding and due to the lack of funding over the years, the region is behind approximately 7-10 years. Any funders looking to change this holla innit.
Don’t get me wrong, lots of incredible work and poets have come from/are coming from the region but there is definitely more space for careers and opportunities to be developed outside of the open mic circuit. What comes after a couple of headline gigs for Midlands artists? How do we become poets with a national presence?
I believe there is space for poets to be integrated into general arts practice, to collaborate across artform, bridge into digital domains, take up space in galleries, theatres and law firms. There is also space for poets to be proactive and travel outside of their region for opportunities. Arrange meetings and ask for residencies if you feel like that would be helpful. The more we all push, the further we can all go.
In terms of my plans for the Midlands expect poetry slams, residencies, the return of masterclasses, festival programming, new development programmes bridging music, poetry and theatre as well as linking poets with people and organisations that could work well together. So keep an eye on things and stay in the loop *cough sign up to the artist opportunities mailing list*.
All of theses plans have been informed by the series of Research and Development days I undertook throughout Sept-Nov 2017. I spoke to poets, organisers, venues and partners in Nottingham, Birmingham, Leicester, Derby, Lincoln. In these sessions everyone echoed the need for artistic development and regional and national touring, it has all been noted and is essentially my Apples and Snakes Bible/Quran/Torah/Warsan Shire collection.
I’m available for poet meetings, you can drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about your work or where you are career wise if that helps.
On that note, I’m going to get back to organising these plans, but stay tuned and don’t be a stranger.
Take care and live your best life,
Aliyah Hasinah xx
First published December 2017