Despite the close link between art and the current digital landscape, it can still feel difficult to keep track of events and opportunities happening all over the UK. Fortunately, CuratorSpace is here to help. The result of a Leeds-based collaboration between artist Louise Atkinson and web developer Philip Bennison, the project combines both an easy to use and intuitive website with in-depth knowledge about the tools needed to create successful artistic events.
The online resource enables people to set up and manage opportunities for exhibitions, residencies, commissions and collaborations, as well as giving them the tools to share the details with artists and other contributors. CuratorSpace also deals with the increasing problem of a digitised artistic landscape – too much information from too many sources. Events may be set up on a number of different social media channels, making updating them, or even just keeping track of them, near impossible. With the site, events and opportunities are on one, easily manageable platform, allowing you to post to multiple social media channels.
CuratorSpace’s Louise identifies this as a key thought behind the initiative, stating, “I’ve been working as an artist and organising exhibitions for about 15 years. Initially Facebook groups made organising shows easier, but soon opportunities were being shared on different networks, with responses coming back through email, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook etc. making it very difficult to manage, especially if I was organising more than one event at once.” Louise’s perspective as an artist shows in the project’s commitment to helping people simply and effectively organise opportunities in ways simply not offered by sites founded without this cultural slant.
The site’s design means that the legwork of setting up events – usually a process involving tedious administration and database utilisation – is dealt with in an efficient manner, and that important or sensitive information is stored and secured easily and effectively. “After a conversation with web developer Philip Bennison about how we could create simple tools to help people organising exhibitions to manage submissions from artists, CuratorSpace was born.” The site is above all easy to use, both when browsing submissions and when uploading your own. Tabs clearly indicate what is needed and who can apply, and deadlines and payments are immediately visible (no crossed wires here!).
This clear and efficient method of organising opportunities has already attracted some high-profile artistic institutions, with the world-renowned East Street Arts using it to manage their events. As their Project Co-ordinator Lydia Catterall notes, “because applications remain outside individual email inboxes there’s no risk of losing anything or missing anyone’s application. Everything is ordered, tidy and in the same format, and our staff can get access anytime they need. What’s more, CuratorSpace is flexible enough to meet our changing needs as we add new spaces, events and projects locally and nationally.” Not wanting to be outdone, Saltaire Inspire also use the service to organise their complex multi-site events schedule, stating that managing has “never been easier” than when using the service.
Another high profile user is Bradford’s National Media Museum, which has utilised CuratorSpace to commission an artist in residence for The Season of Light 2015, a series of installations and exhibitions celebrating the UNESCO International Year of Light and Light Based Technologies. Demonstrating the flexibility of the system outside of traditional art spaces and events, B-side Festival in Dorset have begun to use the site to organise their commissions, and have been able to create a separate application form in French for French artists, creating the intriguing prospect of an international CuratorSpace platform that could bring together opportunities the world over.
As for the future? Louise and Philip are always developing the site and extending its capabilities, saying that they are “delighted that the project is being used by bigger organisations as well as independent curators and artists – it is what the site was designed for”.