Open Source Arts to Launch New Development Programme to Support Leeds Artists

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Arts Editor Hannah Stokes interviews Jacob Justice, Events Programmer at Open Source Arts on Kirkstall Road, about the centre’s new initiative to help emerging artists in Leeds.

How did the idea for the development programme come about?

The development programme was born out of a need to provide support for emerging artists in the Leeds community. I’ve been active in the Leeds DIY art scene for 2 years now, and know that it can be really tough to navigate the world of arts, especially when you’re still finding your voice and developing your work. I think this can often make the art scene seem intimidating and inaccessible to newcomers, but some of the best work I’ve ever seen has been at grass roots scratch nights and open mics around the city. It’s the potential that new artists have shown at events like this that made us want to provide a programme to help these individuals.

How will you choose which artists will be recipients of the scheme, are there any specific points of criteria?

We’re very open minded, and we’ll consider every application equally. We’ll be looking to choose a diverse range of artists whose work and ideas excite us the most, and those who we feel will most benefit from the resources we’re offering.

What types of resources do you aim to provide them with?

We’ll be offering access to the diverse facilities at the Open Source Arts centre on Kirkstall Road, mentoring from experts on the staff team here and opportunities to perform and exhibit work in professional and industry populated events.

I’ve seen that you are holding an Artist Development Design Brunch on the 15th February to discuss ideas for the scheme. How important is input from the local community in shaping the projects you are working on?

It’s absolutely vital. To develop a project that works, we need to listen to the community that we’re trying to reach out to and that we work with, and to expand and diversify this community. We try and hold brunches like this before any major undertaking at Open Source Arts and the feedback we get from them has a real effect on shaping our projects. Local input is always absolutely invaluable to us.

As an artist yourself, how important do you feel these sorts of projects are for emerging artists? How do you feel Open Source’s scheme will benefit the art scene in Leeds?

It’s really all the opportunities and support I’ve received and continue to receive from individuals and organisations that have been kind enough to help me out that has allowed me to be an artist. I’m very lucky to have had that support, and so I’m really proud to be a part of designing a scheme that can give the same help to others. The scene is always enriched by new voices and new ideas, and it’s absolutely vital that we do our utmost to encourage and nurture these new voices in Leeds. I love the arts scene in Leeds, it’s why I moved here, and its absolutely the grass roots artists that are working independently and putting themselves on the line mentally and financially that make it so. If there’s something we can do to support and nurture these individuals, we’re absolutely going to do it.

How does this new development scheme fit in with the aims of Open Source Arts more generally?

Open Source Arts is a deliberately diverse space in our programming, our projects and the people we work with. Rather then becoming siloed or super specific we think the key to creating strong communities is diversity, because it gives the maximum number of people the chance to get involved. This development scheme is an extension of that philosophy, and we hope we’ll get a really diverse crowd on Friday to develop a programme that will speak to everyone.

Open Source Arts’ Artist Development Design Brunch is this Friday at 11am

Hannah Stokes

Image Courtesy of Open Source Arts