Making Use of Meanwhile Spaces

Visionary UK property developers and investors u+i have supported a community arts space called Platform at Waterloo, London, enabling collaboration and creation between and with artists and larger organisations. Check out this video…

Communication Strategies for Project #52 Unsettled

Rana Haddad (an architect and Assistant Professor at the American University of Beirut) and Pascal Hachem (a Beirut artist) were invited to New Zealand in April and May 2017 to participate in a project made possible through Wellington based public art programme, Letting Space. The Urban Dream Brokerage (UBD) was part of a medium-term project, run by Letting Space, to access spaces on a temporary basis for artists to work (and be visible) in the city and environs. A similar idea is currently being explored for Nelson.

Unsettled was the first international residency for Letting Space and UBD. It was performed in the streets at various locations around Wellington with a long assemblage of assorted fabrics made from used clothing – tracing missing flows of streams and histories buried under the city.

Communication Strategies:The Urban Dream Brokerage Website (in conjunction with the Letting Space website) is the foundation of the marketing mix for Unsettled and other projects under its umbrella. There is a Blog section, containing self-generated material. A Press area, containing links to newspaper articles and free to air TV news items, as well as audio interviews for public radio and news website video items. This appears to be a highly successful strategy for getting stories out, although the UBD is advantaged by having a wide variety of material to publicise. Under a Conversations tab, a series of podcasts are posted (through Sound Cloud), covering issues connected to the arts and art spaces.

Different target audiences have been well catered for in this website construction. There is information for Property Owners about the benefits of becoming involved in such a scheme and a tab for artists under Got an Idea, explaining how the arts scheme works and what is required for projects to be considered. Other digital strategies include a Facebook page (1,004 people like this), Twitter (273 Followers) and Instagram (not currently used, but many photographs that might have appeared on this channel could well be copied on the website within each project’s space).

The websites, Facebook and Twitter channels are used to publicise not just what is going on in the art projects themselves, but upcoming interactive events and public talks, both of which Unsettled became involved in.

Signage in the form of posters was also created for the Unsettled project informing casual passers-by about times and locations of the free public talks.

The associated Letting Space website is ongoing and also has a twitter account (at the time of writing it has 980 followers) and its Facebook has 1,272 members. Sponsorship Partners (Wellington Airport, Wellington City Council and Dunedin City Council) have a role to play in these events. Their social media networks create further opportunities for promotional channels. 

While I was unable to find statistics for attendances for the Unsettled project in particular, the comprehensive social and mainstream (print, audio and video) media strategies employed by UBD and Letting Space, as well as the more traditional poster and person to person connections created by Haddad and Hachem, ensure there were the best chances possible created for a high level of awareness of, and engagement in, this project.

Connections and Collaborations

Artist Kathaleen Bartha and architect Richard Sellars have begun a collaborative enterprise, RSKB Studio, combining art and architecture to produce (in the first instance) an exhibition called “Line by Line” at the Quiet Dog Gallery in Nelson. The exhibition is a beautifully curated selection of work and well worth a visit – it runs until the 18th of May.

Some works were created by Richard and Kathaleen separately. Others, such as “The Bridge Triptych” (above), are collaborative. Richard explains that on this drypoint etched aluminium piece, they worked side by side, from either end, to meet in middle. They were able to give each other feedback as they worked.

There is an intriguing idea that sits behind this exhibition.  It is the possibility of integrating this work into larger architectural projects. Kathaleen and Richard say they imagine works being incorporated into glass doors, or other building materials.

They are also aiming to reach further into the Nelson environs by working with other artists, designers and architects to fill some of Nelson’s empty shop fronts and use these as temporary exhibition spaces. This has exciting potential to enliven parts of the central city and further promote Nelson’s creative identity which I am very keen to play a role in, in the near future.