Conny Art Festival was a month long contemporary art festival I co-directed and curated. It was based in Consett in County Durham.
We used spaces available at our local YMCA, utilising class rooms, the sports hall and function rooms for exhibitions and workshops.
Conny exhibited 34 artists ranging in age from 18 - 70 in a programme of workshops, exhibitions, events and film screenings. We wanted to create a platform for local talent while inviting people to the area from across the wider UK. The area's recently seen a surge in local heritage art which was exciting incorporate in a way which sees it in conversation directly alongside local art students. This facilitated inter-generational and interdisciplinary conversations about people's perceptions on not just art but Consett and wider North East’s identity.
We wanted to explore the importance of access to 'creative spaces. We hoped Conny would encourage young people to take their creativity seriously offering support and advice to young artists who were exhibiting for the first time.
Conny looks at the potential of space post industrial towns like Consett have to offer, challenging city centralised arts funding and facilities.
If a gym can exhibit a monumental installation, and a bar a painting show than what other spaces in towns such as Consett has the potential for inventive multi-use, development and investment? Whose potential is being overlooked because of lack of creative space and how does this impact the art world in terms of who’s voice is encouraged to contribute to it?