Our Young Producers visited In Between Time and Residence in Bristol, here's want they discovered…
Last week the Compass Young Producers popped down to Bristol for the day to eat grapes, drink coffee and talk to some very inspiring people.
The lovely folk at Residence, an artist collective set up in an ‘disused’ property in Bristol, spoke to us about the journey they had been on whilst developing their unique community. It was refreshing to meet a group of artists who seemingly “answered to no one” but who consistently questioned their approach and reflected on their impact on the scene. Similarly it was exciting to see a leaderless democracy, in which participants only got out what they put in, that actually worked. Two words kept cropping up in the meeting and are scattered across my notes, ‘Generosity’ and ‘Support’. These words appear to encapsulate the key to Residents success. Oh and their amazing office bar might also have something to do with it.
After a quick drink in the warm Bristol sun, we climbed the stairs to the In Between Time HQ. IBT is a pretty amazing production company who also churn out a biannual performance festival. We sat down with Helen Cole and her senior producer Lynn to discuss their backgrounds and “kicking the shit” out of the things in your way. I would like to point out here how engaging both these woman are, we could have sat and debated for days. Helen also talked us through the concept for her installation We See Fireworks which will be at Compass Festival this year. The main thing I took from our time with Helen and Lynn was that genuine self belief is very powerful – if you want to make something happen, you can. Despite sounding like an inspirational poster from the 90’s the proof of this is found in the success of In Between Time.
On our way back to Leeds we discussed all moving to Bristol after such a good day, but ultimately decided we would miss the cold.
Five Things Found in Bristol – Joely Fielding
1. There’s strength in numbers
In the first part of our trip to Bristol, we visited The Milk Bar, home of Residence – a community of artists working within live art, theatre and performance. We heard from a number of the members about (amongst other things) the history of the community, its day to day functioning, and the differing producing cultures of Bristol and Leeds. Throughout the stories and contributions, it seemed there was a shared notion that there is strength in numbers.
It was clear that each member of Residence is, and has been, much stronger for being a part of that community. Whether it’s creating a supportive atmosphere to work in, providing critical feedback at sharing’s, or chatting over (very wonderfully baked) cakes and drinks (see point 5), Residence members are invaluable to one another as resource.
Considering the supportive atmosphere of Residence, I was reminded of the value of the Young Producers Team – not only as a group sharing this experience together, but as a community of recent graduates, specialising in a range of areas and with differing aspirations, giving one another a leg up here and there, now, and hopefully in the future after our time on the Young Producers Scheme concludes.
2. Hearing someone tell you about a performance that they’ve seen can be wonderful way of understanding their own work
In the second half of our day in Bristol we visited the In Between Time office for a chat with Artistic Director Helen Cole, and Senior Producer Lynn Goh. We heard about Helen’s early career and the growth of In Between Time, whilst Lynn spoke about her professional development that has led her to her current position as Senior Producer.
It was wonderful to hear of all the colour, challenges, and changes of direction in the paths that Helen and Lynn, and In Between Time have taken.
When explaining how she first became interested in live work, Lynn told us a story from her time working at the ICA. This is the moment from our trip to Bristol that I keep returning to. I couldn’t tell the full story, as I’m sure it would do an injustice to the life and energy that Lynn brings to it when she tells it in person. Hearing Lynn’s tale of the old punk, the dog called Porgy, and the huge elephant, I felt we were given a meaningful understanding of not just what she does, but why she does it *.
3. The importance of having space to work
An office/a studio/a basement/on top of a hill – at Residence we were all in agreement of the importance of finding a space to work in that isn’t your bedroom.
4. Thinkers can be Drinkers (as stated on the Residence bookshelf cocktail bar)
5. It’s not essential to have a strategy to be successful
Particularly since graduating, I’ve felt a certain pressure, as have a lot of my peers, to have a plan, or a strategy. Largely due to financial and/or social pressure, I think it’s easy to buy into the misconception that we need to see the path that we are going to take before embarking on it.
I found it refreshing to hear about the journeys of Lynn, Helen, and Residence; they served as a slap on the wrist to remind us that when working in the arts, rigid strategies can often even be a hindrance.I remembered the importance of moving with, rather than ahead of yourself, being responsive and ready to accept happy coincidences, struggles, or complete U-turns.
*This also made me very excited to hear other stories of performance in Helen Cole’s We See Fireworks, presented as part of Compass Festival at Gallery Munro House from 14-23rd of November!