Axisweb: an insider's view


Published: 18 August 2017

As an artist I am all too aware of the challenge of keeping your head above water. It’s not all about working hard to produce artwork, you have to work hard to survive before artwork gets a look in.

Having an array of transferable skills, adjusting with the times, and being actively responsive to your surroundings is a must in order to survive. The job of being an artist is often overlooked and undermined, so I jumped at the opportunity to work with Axisweb and give them my artist's perspective on some of their recent developments.

My first task was supporting the introduction and delivery of the artist award. What does an award look like if it’s designed by and for artists? Where are the gaps? As an artist - what would I want? This involved asking difficult questions and stripping right back to understand what’s at the heart of Axisweb.

What really struck me during my time working with Axisweb was their openness to criticism and change. Since losing their Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) status back in 2014 they have gone through a rigorous reassessment and have come out the other side as a stronger organisation.

Last year, they took the conscious decision not to reapply for NPO funding. As the NPO announcements rolled in last month (26th June 2017) there was a feeling of great relief in the office to be free from the angst of uncertainty. Choosing to back away from the relative comfort of arts subsidy brings its own array of uncertainties and must have been a huge and difficult choice. Yet Axisweb have embraced it as an opportunity to continuously develop a more resilient positioning for them and the artists they seek to support.

Similar to an artists battle for survival, through staying flexible, adaptable and proactive they continue to keep profiling and supporting artists at their core. The difference now is that as an organisation instead of being answerable to funding bodies they are answerable to us, the artists and members.

Annie Nelson Annie Nelson

One half of Yoke (meaning to connect or join) a collaboration with Chris Woodword. Working across media Yoke are driven by an interest in the environment and how it has been shaped both physically and socially.

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