P2P with Anykščiai art incubator
While our previous P2P creative hubs exchange was focused around the space itself, this one was about building, managing and supporting artists’ communities. So this time CHC co-founder and curator Jasmina Šarić and artist Andrea Resner participated in the exchange with Anykščiai Menu Inkubatorius.
Anykščiai menų inkubatorus (AMI) was founded in 2008, by Anykščiai municipality, thus as a public institution. The hub is located in a reconstructed cultural heritage building, in the project the extension to the building was built, and AMI opened on April 10th, 2014. AMI’s main activities are promotion of creativity, creative business and ecosystems, mobilization of different types of art makers and people developing art, research on various levels about the complex interactions between local society and artists and creation of a commercial system. They also organize annual events, such as Creative industries festivals devoted to wool, glass, ceramics, metal or graphic art; Christmas fairs in December; concerts of jazz, classic and alternative music; exhibitions of modern art; and creative workshops for community. The also act as an educational centre developing creative and cultural education focusing on the social inclusion.
Our host was Irmantas Rimkus, who was also a former resident of AMI, but later became included in the administrative support and now works as a project manager at the Incubator. Currently, they have 5 employees. Around 20% of their budget is publicly financed, and the rest comes mostly from the projects, rent (of halls, studios and equipment), shop and virtual reality experience. Due to the current crisis, the lack of events decreased their rent income. The shop at AMI sells different products made by their residents. Currently they have 17 residents, mainly artists and artisans, but other businesses are also welcome. However, the priority is still given to the artists, up to 35 years old. The rent is affordable – 1.5 euros per square meter. Equipment is not included, but can be cheaply rented. This is something commonly used by people who are not residents, who, for example, work at home, but need special equipment to finish their production (for example, in ceramics – a recently growing demand also in Croatia).
For our first meeting, Irmantas took us on a virtual tour around the Inkubator, during which we had a chance to meet and talk to some of the residents: Lina Timukaitė working with ceramics, Ugnė Morkūnienė who was just preparing her gifts of bee products, Elvyra Stankevičienė – a knitter, Rasa Strumilienė working with paper, Marius Paulauskas working in advertising and a film director Linas Mikuta, who was also involved in our final event a week later. What inspired us most was the support given to the artists, provided by the Incubator, and completely tailored to their needs. One of the residents we had a chance to speak to, and who, along with her mom and sisters runs a family business says it helped them a lot. There are different types of support provided, on the topics of marketing, setting up the business model…for which they usually engage external trainers. They also emphasized the importance of collaborations that happen between their residents.
We were lucky enough to have a chance to (at least virtually) visit an exhibition currently displayed on the windows of the Inkubator which was a great way to have an ongoing programming even in these challenging times and partial lockdown. The exhibition “ŠILUMA” satirically represent the vacationing images of Lithuania, made by Žilvinas Jagėla, an illustrator and musician living in Vilnius.
During the second session, we presented the organizational structure of CHC, vision and mission, our ways of working, some of our projects with the emphasis on creating a community and strategies we employ. All three of our co-founders and Andrea as a community member were present.
Our third session was devoted to planning and discussing the possible future partner projects. We decided to collaborate on a joint project proposal, which we plan to submit for the next Erasmus+ call. We showcased some of our previous experiences with Erasmus projects which was quite useful to get an idea of the topics we are interested in. AMI is working on the idea for a project involving creativity as response to the psychological issues, and has already included partners from Finland. In the upcoming months we will be further preparing this application.
We also met Daiva Perevičienė, director of AMI, who shared with us her experience as a hub manager, but we also tackled some current issues regarding the creative sector and the current crisis, situations in our countries and our respective government’s responses. Although founded on different basis, we discovered some similar goals: not to rely only on the finances provided by government, but to create various sources of financing ourselves. Their aim at the moment is to concentrate on the EU projects, a source that we also rely a lot at the moment. However, thinking of innovative ways of self-financing, through service provision for example, is something we aim to further work on.
Regarding the resident structure, AMI’s goal now is to attract more professionals from different fields. They were also involved as a strategic partner in the development of cultural strategy, with the cultural council established by the Ministry of culture of Lithuania, which have provided the financing for three years. It was interesting to learn more about the concept of hubs in Lithuania. Currently, there are 12 „inkubators“ in that country, out of which only five are outside of the cities (AMI being one of them). During this session, we also made preparations for our final event which was focused on artistic production and its situation in the current crisis. The online event was open not just for our communities, but to everyone who wanted to participate.
On Wednesday, December 2nd, our final event started with the screening of film “Dead Ears” by AMI’s resident and community member, film director Linas Mikuta who announced the film. The screening of the film “The Rhymes of the White Crow” by Andrea Resner was also shown. After each screening there was a talk with the artists, followed by a general discussion on their work conditions, current situation and ways and means of production. While addressing the current, new problems in the artistic production, we tried to focus on possibilities and opportunities these new challenges have imposed upon us.
The Creative FLIP P2P exchange program is aimed at engaging leading, established, and innovative creative hubs with peers from emerging creative hubs across Europe, as well as with relevant educational institutions. The idea of the exchanges is to seek new formats of cross-sectorial cooperation between creative hubs and the educational sector, initiate projects of co-creation or collaborative plans, as well as to share knowledge and expertise across Europe through public and/or community events.
European Creative Hubs Network is the implementing partner for the P2P exchange within the Creative FLIP and us as members had the opportunity to apply and were selected for the second round of exchanges. The project is co-financed by European Commission.