Calling all artists and makers within the membership. Would you like to volunteer take the following project forward?
This project has been in gestation for a number of years now and it should have gone ‘live’ in 2020 but was scuppered by the pandemic. If ever a project was a victim of circumstances, it must be this one.
It was first proposed as an idea when Ronni Payne and myself met with CRT at Braunston Canal Museum in 2018. Their representative was very encouraging but almost immediately went on maternity leave and progress stalled. Ronni, Sue Meades and I then met CRT in 2019 on a cold winter’s day in Birmingham just as the their reorganisation was beginning. By then the project was in draft form which I circulated to those present at our meeting and the chair promised to take it forward.
The reorganisation must have led to it being put in someone’s in-tray where it may still be gathering dust for all I know. I was unable to make contact with any of the people who spoke to us at that meeting. What happened to them and what they are doing now I have no idea, they certainly didn’t reply to my emails.
The next step takes us to the Christmas Floating Market in 2019 where with increasing frustration at the state of our communications with CRT, Ronni, myself and Alison Tuck had a meeting with senior CRT managers in Birmingham. I came away from that meeting feeling very positive, I thought we had established a new way of working. The draft project was again handed over but by now you are probably guessing what happened next – nothing!
Unfortunately, whatever agreements we made at that meeting unravelled when at my first liaison meeting only a few weeks afterwards, I was informed that because CRT Business managers were now all working regionally, a national liaison meeting between CRT and RCTA was no longer considered appropriate and I was made ‘redundant’! CRT now wanted RCTA to work regionally presumably unaware or unconcerned that we haven’t the volunteer resources to support effective liaison in all the regions. Our only really viable means of communication with CRT is currently through the Chair and the market managers. I’m not really sure what this means for liaison long term, as a national organisation with limited resources the existing arrangement seemed to work successfully. Certainly the ‘vision thing’ which so excited Ronni and I at that meeting in Braunston in 2018 and where we felt very much part of CRT’s forward plans seems to me to have evaporated.
However, there is good news, at the meeting where I was made redundant it was suggested I contact Tim Eastrop, the Arts & Culture Partner at the Canal & River Trust. After a few email exchanges, Tim felt that the project was ‘strong’ and at last I felt it might come off. It was immediately clear that Tim was thinking along regional lines and I was asked to attend an early meeting in London with the appropriate Southern managers to discuss implementation. To be honest, instead of feeling excited about this news, I was left feeling disappointed and irritated. My proposal was clearly designed to be a national event not regional and there had been no discussion about this and a trip to London at that time of day would mean setting out long before dawn, travelling through the rush hour and set either myself or RCTA back well over £100. I thought to myself, these guys are in corporate mode and they’re not thinking! We are a volunteer led organisation without a limitless budget for travel and meeting expenses etc!!!! I pointed out that RCTA had few members in the southern region and a midlands meeting would be more appropriate, This was scheduled for Birmingham in March 2020 just as Covid-19 was getting started and, since I was considered to be in the ‘at risk’ group, I cancelled. So ended the most recent attempt to launch this project.
It’s hard at the current time to see a way forward but as restrictions end it should be possible to relaunch this project. My personal circumstances now mean that I am unable to be the driver for the initiative and I would like to hand it over to a member or members who feel they could take it forward. I do believe it is doable in its current format although whoever takes it forward may wish to modify aspects of delivery. I envisaged this project as a joint initiative with CRT but have begun to wonder if we could just do it ourselves. In some ways it is just an extended floating market and we certainly have the skills and knowledge within the membership to deliver it successfully.
If you think you might like to make it lift off, please let Ronni Payne know.
This following is how the project was left in its draft form last March
“Meet The Artists And Artisans On The Cut” Joint project idea
This project idea is being developed by RCTA member Andrew Mills in discussion with Tim Eastrop the Arts & Culture Partner at the Canal & River Trust. Andrew is looking for expressions of interest from members who would like to participate. Andrew started talking to CRT about this project in Feb 2019 and it has taken some time to get to the point of an actual meeting to discuss it (the first meeting was in March 16th 2020) so progress has been very slow. With most traders busy over the summer months, it is likely the first event will be in 2021. It may take a few years to become a viable event and participants will need to take this into consideration. In other words, this event may be more about promoting their own work and art and artisans and life on the cut more generally rather than a sales opportunity but who knows what the outcome might be.
If you would like to help develop or participate in this project please let Andrew know and he will speak to Ronni about how RCTA can manage communications and keep the project moving forward.
This project is exclusively for roving traders who create/make their own work and then sell it from their narrowboats. The model is not based on the concept of a ‘floating market’ but on promoting traders moored at their favourite locations throughout the system.
It could, if successful, be developed on a separate occasion to include all forms of roving trader – perhaps a national annual meet ‘the roving traders event’ again in conjunction with CRT.
Proposal for a joint working project between Roving Canal Traders Association and Canal River Trust
Artists and craftspeople are invited to create works where the waterway is the source of their inspiration and these are installed in locations to surprise, enthral and equally inspire a broad range of canal users. But sometimes this art can have an institutional flavour – something that has been ‘designed in’ as part of the infrastructure. What of the community of artists and craftspeople living and working on the canals either full or part-time? Should there not be a time and a place to celebrate this diverse and interesting community? RCTA is proposing that they should work with CRT to establish an annual event for canal visitors to meet the artists and artisans of the cut.
Proposed project title:
“Meet The Artists And Artisans On The Cut”
To replicate the successful ‘open studio’ events supported by many county arts organisations by encouraging members of the public to visit artists and makers working from narrowboats throughout the canal system.
Project implementation – some ideas for discussion
RCTA to identify and invite (initially perhaps 12 to 15 or as many as will) artist/craftspeople to participate in the programme.
Participants will be roving traders who make/create their own work including for example: fine artists, painters, printmakers, pottery and ceramics, textiles, mixed media, glass, jewellery, decoupage, photography, woodworkers, woodcarvers and woodturners, blacksmithing, traditional canal signwriters including roses & castles, pyrography, knitters and weavers, canal rope work etc.
Although gallery boats will be invited to participate, the focus is on artists and makers who are producing or manufacturing their own work either on their boat or selling their work from their boat. Participants will not be selling third party or bought in items.
Participants will be RCTA members and will pay a small fee (currently £20) to cover insurance, committee member expenses in arranging the project and to confirm commitment.
Participants will moor their boats at key locations agreed with CRT (close to their home mooring where appropriate) which have excellent access for visitors to the canal.
Participants will not allow the public to enter their boat unless this has been approved as part of their licence agreement with CRT.
The concept is designed to cover the waterways nationally so it is anticipated that participants will be scattered throughout the system and will participate either individually or two or three boats together.
The event will cover two weekends and participants will need to stay on the mooring 12 days.(one day to arrive, one day to set up, eight days at the location (Saturday to the following Sunday, two days to pack up and depart).
Participants will be formally part of the event during the two weekends covered by the event and will commit to being open to greet and talk to canal visitors on the Saturday and Sunday from 10.00am until 5.00pm, but where appropriate may remain open during the week if they so wish.
The event could be staged over the same two weekends nationally or at different times in different regions to allow canal visitors to travel between locations.
Participants will be encouraged to display their work in an exciting and engaging manner, be available to talk to visitors about their work and where possible demonstrate their art or craft.
Canal visitors will become part of a nation wide arts and crafts trail.
CRT will use the event as the basis for promotion and engagement with canal visitors.
CRT will be encouraged to have their own towpath presence staffed by volunteers or employees.
Where CRT is not able to have a direct canal side presence, RCTA members will undertake to distribute CRT publicity materials alongside their own display.
CRT will publicise the event using their web site and publicity/marketing procedures.
RCTA will publicise the event using their established Facebook marketing procedures.
CRT will be encouraged to undertake it’s own ‘open house’ activities in conjunction with the event so that both RCTA artists and craftspeople are moored close to a CRT attraction which will be opened for visitors at the same time.
CRT will organise the mooring restriction notices at the event locations.
RCTA will organise a formal feedback procedure for participants so that the project can be evaluated and a decision taken on whether to repeat in the following year.
This project establishes an opportunity for RCTA and CRT to work together. It will enable links at regional and nationals level to be established between RCTA members and CRT. It offers an opportunity for CRT to pursue aspects of their purpose and mission in a new way and to establish a new annual event which can be planned for and developed, including in other new directions, over time.
This project will require a small working group of interested and committed people from both organisations to take it forward.
RCTA treasurer volunteer
Contact Andrew via:
22.01.2020 (revised 08.3.2020)