ART - CREATIVITY - CULTURE - ENGAGEMENT - COMMUNITY
Dancing In The Dark is an Aberdeen based arts and culture blog. It arose from the negative persona that nothing cool or interesting ever happens in Aberdeen. Whether that be music, art or other cultural events, to some the city was a waste land and they had no interest in changing things. However I knew a different city, one with a bustling art community and filled with people who were making things happen. From record labels to art cafes, to exhibitions and Dj nights. But still this disconnect existed between those in the know and those who maybe wanted to engage but didn’t know how. So I started an art blog with the intention of trying to promote, document and join the dots of Aberdeen’s cultural landscape.
10 years on I think Aberdeen as a city has moved on quite a bit. This includes more visability for the city through festivals like Look Again and Nuart Aberdeen along with the Painted Doors project. But also the numerous venues for seeing art including Peacock Visual Arts, The Suttie Art Space at ARI, Foodstory Cafe, The Art Centre, the now defunct Seventeen space and eventually the Art Gallery when it re opens provide spaces for seeing work both local and international artists. New collectives like Tendency Towards and Shack also point towards a shift as students leaving the art school look to stay in the city as apposed to shooting off for Glasgow or London and the Art Hive nights have really added a much needed sense of community for many artists. But still there seems to be a missing link between whats on offer and the audience its aimed at.
Certainly seeing behind the curtain of Nuart Festival and Nuart Aberdeen has revealed a new way to work, one which looks at what it has to offer but also looks at how its offered, who its for and who it needs to engage with. There’s an established audience in Aberdeen who know artists and their work but I hope we can do more to engage the people who don’t know anything about art and who maybe don’t understand its value. I’ve found that when people slag off something its because they don’t understand it or they think its not for them. When I look at whats on offer and how its offered I can see why so many would feel intimidated and not want to engage with it. However I’d like to try and walk people through these ideas a little, open up the conversation with them, not to make them like it but simply to help them feel included. They might still hate it but if they’ve seen or experienced it then hopefully its opened them up to other new experiences.
With the blog I’ve always focused more on the images and documentation than the super heavy art text that can again be quite off putting. Admittedly as time has gone on I’ve become more confident in writing about art in a way that’s more in line with traditional art journals but I still want to make it accessible for people who aren’t from that world. I think through engagement, whether on social media or in real life, we add value to the culture of Aberdeen and also to the people of the city. Look Again, Painted Doors and Nuart Aberden have all been great examples of how art can change the face of the city and engage its population. There’s obviously still lots of work to do around opening up the conversation, how we promote events and also the type of events we put on (high brow, low brow, public, DIY) but also looking at having a centralised resource to find information about whats on. If it wasn’t for facebook I wouldn’t have a clue and I still only scratch the surface.
I’m still unpacking what I can do and how to implement some of the above into my own work both via the blog and as a citizen. I guess watch this space but also reach out, get in touch if you want to know more and lets open a dialogue, lets push those in power in our cultural organisations to listen and continue to build on what we have, which is a pretty fantastic city. If you want to find out more or highlight a project contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media. You can also listen to a bit of my story so far on the Creative Me podcast here.