(Slow) Marathon: riveting + inspirational!
Thanks to everyone who came along and contributed to the Alternative Art Education (Slow) Marathon! We launched URgh!#1, amplified the movement, opened up the discussion on some of the more esoteric aspects of self-organised art education, demonstrated the possibilities of online education and had a lot of fun!
To view and download the saved chat session from the event please click here. For a list of links to recordings from the event please visit the DOCUMENTATION section below. This page will be updated with links to additional recordings when they become available.
Thanks to all the facilitators for putting so much excitement and care into their workshops. Thanks to Lu Williams and Bella Street Fenn from TOMA for their excellent and beautifully structured Imagined Futures zine workshop, everyone got really inspired from the get go! Thanks to Genetic Moo for running Microworld @HOME, a workshop that was both relaxed and crammed with information, delicious visuals, challenges and fun.
Thanks to Ellie Armstrong and Stephen Bennett for putting together the Art and/or Science Reading Group, we received excellent feedback and the participants were brimming when they flooded back from the breakout room. Thanks to Nick Kaplony and Chloe Cooper for organising the Artquest Z-Crit, everyone enjoyed the excellent artist presentations in the first part, and the artists appeared to have much to think about when they got back from the private feedback session in the second part.
Thanks to all the event coordinators and chairs for preparing the presentations and discussions. Thanks to Emma Edmondson (TOMA) for coordinating the Jamboree, preparing the Open Discussion and inviting all the amazing guest speakers! A big thank you to all the alt art school reps for talking to us about their schools and groups. It was interesting to see both the similarities and the differences between the groups, their organisational methods and priorities. Elle Reynolds observed that alternative art schools are brought together in one of two dynamic formats or “methodologies”, horizontal collectives and groups that coalesce around the practice of one “pluridisciplinary” artist.
Thanks to Emma Edmondson (TOMA), Catherine Harrington (AltMFA), Sophie Chapman, Jessica El Mal and Sam Lanchin (Into the Wild) for chairing the Open Discussion. Although 20 minutes was just about enough time to broach each of these topics, the discussions raised many crucial questions about alternative art education that are rarely discussed, with a lot of information on inspirational countervailing practices. Many thanks to the guest speakers for sharing their experiences and bringing new dimensions to the discussion. This session brought so many topics into play and I’m really looking forward to view the recording of the discussion, but a couple of ideas I came away with concerning cooperation is the importance of communication and the necessity for a collective agreement on how the group will communicate with a statement on the group’s purpose and the members’ expectations.
Thanks to Nicola Schauerman (Genetic Moo) and Darshana Vora (RPG) for putting together the films that kept everyone glued even during the breaks. Many thanks to all the schools and groups for contributing their work to the Alternative Art School Film Compilation.
Huge thanks to Milky Genes for capturing the mood and winding down all this excitement with a perfectly-tuned DJ set!
A very very special thanks to Jeff Davy from Conway Hall and Anna B. Sexton for planning and coordinating the technical resources that came together so efficiently. They worked tirelessly in the background to keep the event running smoothly, responding to requests, resolving hitches and supporting everyone. Many thanks Darshana Vora for stepping in to cover for them during breaks. For some notes on scaling up online events please scroll to the end.
The event was perfectly timed and organised thanks to the sheer amount of preparation, skill and inspiration that everyone contributed. We received glowing feedback all round from “truly inspirational” to “highlight of lockdown”. From the stimulating events and exciting work to the spontaneous cooperation and self-organisation the event was absolutely riveting and inspirational. Looking forward to meet again at the Festival of Alternative Art Education at Conway Hall in 2021!
Credit to Models and Constructs for all the beautiful design work.
|Saved Zoom chat session from the event
|Alternative art school + peer-support group Jamboree (coming soon)
|Discussion: online education, labour + cooperation (coming soon)
|Alternative Art School Film Compilation (complied and edited by Nicola Schauerman with contributions from alternative art schools and collectives)
|Microworld @HOME workshop with Genetic Moo
|lostandfound by Darshana Vora (2020)
|Milky Genes (non) art school disco (coming soon)
Some thoughts on organising large-scale online events
It was a really inspiring event that exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations and then some! It exceeded our expectations of what an online event could be, with many excellent ideas on how online events can transcend the limitations for the screen. We were worried that it would wear people out because it was too lengthy and we had packed too much in. But everyone said that it hardly felt like a whopping 7+ hours of non-stop interactive content! This was due to the diversity of the thoughtfully prepared events, the innovative combination of technology with analog improvisation and the positive energy that the facilitators and guest speakers brought with them. We were concerned about giving everyone the opportunity to get involved, about the tech holding up, and whether we had had prepared for any eventuality.
In preparation for the event we had several online meetings and we collaborated via online documents to develop and coordinate the programme. Jeff Davy and Anna B. Sexton put together a spreadsheet for the running order, timings and various roles for the day. They also signed all the event facilitators and the support team to Whatsapp group. This gave us an alternative way to communicate during the event and proved to be indispensable. We had a mic check / dress rehearsal a few days before the event, which indicated some of the creases that we needed to iron out and gave us a better sense of how the tech would work and how the activities would fit together.
An event like this requires a great deal of support back stage as well as on webcam. Our MC’s Chloe Cooper and Zoe Toolan really carried the event forward, introducing the events and facilitators, providing information and entertainment, and improvising wherever necessary! Backstage Jeff Davy and Anna B. Sexton undertook the role of Zoom “host” for most of the day, and Darshana Vora took over during one of the sessions. The hosts were also tending to technical problems, participants’ requests, while they coordinated communications between the team and participants, preparing to switch Zoom “co-host” privileges, “spotlighting” speakers and adding participants to breakout rooms. We had one moderator tending to the chat and additional requests from facilitators and attendees during the day. This would have been more efficiently shared between two or more people. The saved chat session provides a very useful record of the ideas, references and links shared during the day. We also recorded the session and hope to make the video of the discussion available. It might also have been useful to have a note-taker and/or team of social media admins to document and communicate the event on social media, with screen shots, updates, information and links.
In terms of scaling up a Zoom event from 20 to 100 participants, we noticed that with more participants it becomes increasingly tricky to keep track of them and identify the speaker. If your internet connection cannot handle the “gallery view” of multiple participants then you have to scroll through endlessly to find the active speaker. This can be unsettling when you’re facilitating an event, because on the one hand you naturally want to make eye contact with the person who is speaking and on the other there are a number of things to attend to apart from the topic at hand. These include maintaining an overview of the event and the structure you have prepared, introducing and addressing other contributors, sharing media, time-keeping, keeping an eye on the chat, responding to questions, liaising with the support team, and so on.