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Dec 1, 2015London is full of artist success stories. But for every artist who does get to the point of performance or exhibition, there are many who are sadly forced to abandon their big idea.As an arts charity, it’s an honour to be able to support emerging artists by giving them something that can be scarce in London – space. We hope that by giving artists a space where they can grow their work and a stage on which to perform it, we also give them the confidence to keep going with their creative projects. Working with funding bodies such as Arts Council England and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation to support artists’ development, we have been able to help a huge number of artists realise their aspirations. We are also supported by the generous donations of individuals, and the income from ticket sales which goes directly back into the arts programme. In the last year we gave away 4,521 hours of free rehearsal space, supporting over 140 emerging artists. We're also proud to give Londoners the chance to see work from all over the world, often for free. More than 35,000 people enjoyed free arts and culture events at Rich Mix in 2014/15. Our Youth Takeover in August saw young people taking over the building for free workshops, gigs, theatre shows, and masterclasses. It was fantastic to work with young artists and help them to turn ideas into reality. There’s no shortage of talent – so it’s the responsibility of organisations such as ours to ensure that upcoming artists are given the opportunities to grow. Having faced a period of uncertainty where the future of Rich Mix was being debated, we have certainly had cause to think on what kind of gap would be left in our absence. That’s a lot of works of theatre, dance, spoken word, or visual art that London audiences might otherwise not have been able to see. That’s a lot of opportunities to expand our minds, see the world from different perspectives, and connect with other people that we might have otherwise missed. That’s a lot of success stories which might never have been told. #GivingTuesday gives us a good reason to talk about why arts funding and artist development programmes remain essential – and to consider all that artists give us in return.Image: writer and performer Alice Malseed in Jellyfish, which was part of our 2015 season of new works.
Dec 7, 2015This morning Arts Council England have been discussing progress on the first year of their Diversity and the Creative Case strand of work. As part of this, they have published statistics showing the composition of workforce in a number of their most significant organisations. Full details of the statistics can be found here.For Rich Mix, as an organisation which has had a long-standing commitment to diversity as a core part of our mission it was a great joy to see that in terms of the diversity of our workforce, we are making good progress when compared to our peers. The ACE figures show that the total number of BAME staff averages out at 13.7% for NPOS whereas Rich Mix figures show almost 42%.We are also delighted to see the increase in successful Grants for the Arts bids from artists from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. Over half of our programming is by BAME artists and we know how much the support of ACE has meant in giving them access to tools and resources to develop their practice further.We are still very conscious of the need to do even more to attract people from diverse backgrounds to come to work in our organisation. And we are grateful that we have an extremely diverse Board. Their contribution has been invaluable in supporting our thinking about programming, employment and community outreach.And as an aside it’s also good to see that our partners in the Future Arts Centres network are also leading the way in the diversity discussions and practice.Jane Earl, Chief Executive
Dec 31, 2015Working at an arts venue, it sometimes feels like we’ve got gigs, films, theatre, and exhibitions coming out of our ears (now there’s a bizarre mental image). And yet the staff here at Rich Mix apparently can’t get enough. From backstreet pubs to the Royal Festival Hall, we get around. And (proving we’re not totally London-centric) this year’s ‘staff picks’ list even includes a couple from beyond Zone 5. Here’s what we loved, here and elsewhere, in 2015:‘I really loved 1927’s ‘Golem’. The use of flawless live choreography against a forever moving digital landscape was mesmerising and very different from any theatre I’ve ever seen before. 1927 are definitely a company to watch out for!’ Nikki Smith, Events Coordinator‘I can’t split the difference between Lapalux and DJ Yoda here at Rich Mix – two immersive musical experiences that kept me dancing for days.’ Ben Skelton, Marketing Officer (Film and Events)‘Remixed Fest here in Feb. It was great to see the building so full of life, with amazing music in every space (even the lift). Everyone was loving the vibe – punters, artists, staff – even a few tenants snuck in to join the party!’ Rhiannon Wilkins, Arts & Culture Producer ‘HMS Morris at Festival No 6 in North Wales. It was great because: 1. Their music is an absolutely brilliant psychedelic mix of electro, pop and rock with really beautiful harmonies and they are incredible live. 2. Because I got to perform as one of their backing dancers! I really enjoyed the Drama in the Mix showcase here back in March which saw local school pupils performing their self-penned radio plays on the main stage. They were incredibly funny and thought provoking.’ Lucy Knight, Executive Assistant‘Manu Delago was the best thing I saw this year.’ Eileen Tracey, Digital Marketing‘Starting my own business doing Henna for weddings was my art highlight.’ Rufshana Begum, Box Office Supervisor‘Sufjan Stevens at Royal Festival Hall in September, which was sublime, sad and spectacular. My Rich Mix highlight was probably the Sensory Score in July, which even though I had programmed it took me completely by surprise.’ Oliver Carruthers, Head of Programming ‘Fast and Furious 7 because it’s enjoyably nuts. Dumb Hollywood fun. Best superhero movie of the year.’ Suman Pal, Finance Manager‘Seeing Suffragette here when it was filmed so close to Rich Mix, and remembering the lengths women went to to get us all the right to vote. Elsewhere – Opera up Close new version of Carmen. Great singers and a really interesting take on the story.’ Jane Earle, Chief Executive‘Xiu Xiu’s Twin Peaks concert at St John’s church in Hackney.’ Margot Przymierska, Young People’s, Family & Community Producer‘Seeing Swindle twice this year! First time was at the Southport Weekender back in May and the second time was here in November. He’s like a young Prince, great musically, funky band behind him and also gets you jumping up and down! Jazz meets dubstep!’ Gemma Unwin, Events Manager‘Mashrou’ Leila at the Barbican – Hamid Sino’s voice is beautiful, the performance transported me to another world… Fantastic. Hassan Moyo and Flux at Rich Mix created an electric atmosphere for a Monday night! And Garden State by Corinne Silva (Mosaic Rooms) showed how public gardens are used for political means in Israel… who thought a flower bed could be political?’ Natasha Clarke, Arts Assistant‘For once I agree with the critics, who’ve all put Hangmen (formerly at the Royal Court, and now at the Wyndham’s) at the top of their lists this year. Dark, hilarious, and very, very wrong. I’ve never spent such a tense interval! Also, the Hamilton cast recording, which makes me really wish Broadway wasn’t such a schlep!’ Maxine Smiles, Marketing Officer (Arts and Culture)‘The Frantz Fanon exhibition at the ABP gallery because it gave a new, more personal way of looking at his ideas.’ Maisie Linford, Finance Administrator‘Ibeyi at Islington Town Hall in May was my stand-out gig. And Neverwhere Beckett (part of CASA festival) was so inventive and different to anything I’ve seen.’ Anna Woods, Marketing Assistant‘I know this is cheating and will seem terribly big headed but my favourite gig was one which I played with my band Cup. (Yup, just read that back and it does sound big headed but I’m going with it). We played at Wysing Arts Festival in Cambridgeshire in September this year and not only was it a really fun gig to play (our stage was in a makeshift shack in a field), but the festival was just excellent. Loads of people gathered to listen to electronic music and full bands, much of it broadly classed as ‘experimental music’. And all the acts I saw were really exciting. It’s not often you get that at a festival.’ Lucy Jamieson, Head of Marketing (and drummer)‘The sound art exhibition, Sonica, at the CCA in Glasgow was really good. And watching the film The Lobster here.’ Asher Levitas, Box Office‘I saw Lest We Forget at Sadlers Wells by English National Ballet. It was a powerful and exciting mixed bill of three pieces created in response to World War 1. Seeing Tamara Rojo choreographed by Akram Khan in Dust was an experience which remains imprinted on my mind. I came away feeling grief and joy simultaneously.’ Monique Deletant Bell, Interim Chief Operating Officer