Putting together a successful public art project is tough work. It takes collaboration, clear direction and a lot of hours to install, promote and run a show.
Simon Joseph Doyle curated Myths Beneath the Carlton as part of the 2016 Melbourne Fringe Festival. He shares some of his tips on how you can get your ideas from page to program.
How did the opportunity to curate an exhibition at Melbourne Fringe Festival come up?
I was studying the Master of Arts (Art in Public Space) at RMIT, and I was approached by my lecturer with the opportunity. She had been contacted by Fringe and they were really keen to collaborate with an RMIT student to create something in the Carlton Club for the festival.
There's no sense in waiting around for the 'perfect project'. You need to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and engage with projects that challenge you both professionally and personally.
What common mistakes can first-time curators avoid?
Make sure that you plan ahead and schedule the artists and staff involved so that you don’t open the show on traditionally quiet nights like a Monday or Tuesday.
Try and develop some connecting material and information for audiences who aren’t so art savvy, to help clue them in a little more to the experience you’re trying to deliver.
What’s the best part about working on art projects for you?
Definitely the artists. They have been the most amazing people to collaborate with. Each one of them is so talented in their own practice, and it’s been inspiring to watch them conceptualise and deliver their work.
I also can’t overstate the benefit of having a great technical team, and I was lucky to receive a lot of support from the RMIT School of Art.
How can arts professionals prepare themselves to run festival shows and projects?
You need to be willing to work hard to improve your skill set so that you are well placed to deliver on opportunities when they arise. Postgraduate study is a great way to do this.
Often when these opportunities present themselves they come along like a freight train and you need to be prepared to just jump on, make the best decisions you can in the time you have with the information that’s present and have a little bit of self-belief that with enough work great things can be achieved. The stuff that you don't get right is just learning for next time!