Back in 2020, Abingdon Studios received some research investment to explore the idea of a new artist and curators network with a focus on seaside and coastal terrain where artists reside. This peripherality and living and working on the edge and or cusp of something is a pertinent topic for many artists and the cultural sector.
Blackpool-based artist and curator Garth Gratrix initiated the idea with investment received from LeftCoast CPP, Grundy Art Gallery NPO and East Street Arts SSO as part of the GUILD programme. It forms part of ABS ask to Arts Council England to help expand the research into a pilot network; whereby we will be able to announce a number of coastal bursaries and commissions through our upcoming a-n assembly conference in Blackpool September 2021.
The purpose of the network is to explore future commissions and touring of coastally based contemporary artists nationally inc Blackpool, Brighton, Margate, Scarborough, Grimsby, Eastbourne, Plymouth, Hull, Hastings and beyond. We are particularly interested in ‘The Coast is Queer’ as a framework to explore difference and diversity in the quest to change perceptions of people and place. We hope such a network would impact policy, commissioning and partnership strategies to include the coast into the future and build stronger relationships between funded organisations and growing artist-led ecologies and spaces.
This continues the efforts of ABS to maintain paid opportunities for artists currently and builds on our covid-19 support packages of rent-free periods and bursaries to Blackpool-based artists to connect and collaborate with artists nationally. This has created over £35k in individual grants awarded to artists in the area in the last 10 months.