If you ever had an idea for a public art project, have you wondered how it could come to life? I hope this article can be of some use to somebody thinking of applying for funding, or even inspire them to try!
in 2019 my partner Paulie and I submitted an application to Creative Commissions, a grant funded by Adur & Worthing Trust for new projects within this area. It was successful, and I'm delighted to have been invited to join the judging panel this year. Reading about our experience could be helpful if you are considering applying this year, and perhaps haven't yet taken the plunge.
Our idea sprang up on a hot June day in 2018, when I was painting the floor of our understairs cupboard. With all the junk cleared out of there and with a nice coat of paint, I thought what an overlooked space this was, and joked with Paulie about what we could do with it. We happened to have an old cinema seat from a local cinema's refurb, that had been cluttering up the house for two years. And you know how people turn their understairs cupboards into toilets? Well, putting the cinema chair in there instead and making the tiniest cinema would a) give the chair a use and b) be really fun.
It was coming up to our 5th year of participating in Worthing Artists Open Houses as 'Ashdown Road Artists', and we've always tried to create a welcoming environment for visitors. It's quite a big step for people to go into a stranger's house on an art trail, and the event can end up being a little exclusive. The pressure to buy something can put anyone off! And we don't want people to worry about talking to us, or feel like this event isn't for them.
This slightly ridiculous cinema idea could be just the thing to offer as a fun and free activity for all ages and backgrounds, as well as being a great talking point to engage people with. If we could make our Open House more inclusive, it could be one tiny step towards shaking off the homogenous image of the typical 'art-trail visitor'.
The name came from trying to think of a gender-neutral version of a one-man cinema... And as far as we can imagine, we all have a bum, and need to use it for sitting on the seat, so One Bum Cinema Club was born! The name made us smile, and was totally inclusive, so we knew it was right.
We are lucky enough to have local friends who are artists, illustrators and animators, who were willing to collaborate and bring the idea to life. My personal involvement didn't go far beyond the idea, the name and the funding application, because Paulie, not normally involved in the creative side, took this on as his project with our fantastic gadget-man friend Matt Simkins. Taking short, funny animations as the focus, our friends from Persistent Peril created a showreel of shorts by them and Laurie Rowan. And hello DODO created the brilliant logo.
The funding application was instrumental in getting the idea off the ground, because not only did it give our idea focus, it gave it accountability for being more than just our personal whim. When writing the application I explained how we would use this project to reach out to a new audience, attract people from outside the area to the town, and how it would provide a service to the community. After making these pledges, our humble little chair-under-the-stairs had to be good, and we also had to work hard to publicise it and get real visitors into our