When Scissors Paper Pen started up all of September-ago, no, in fact, when we applied for the Write in Your Face grant to run Scissors Paper Pen all of this time last year, a few thoughts were thrown around. Now, I’m the first to admit that at the time of the proposal, I didn’t live in Canberra. One could even say that throughout the application I arrogantly utilised sweeping statements concerning the barren state of affairs when it came to platforming young writers work in Canberra. To be honest, though, at the time I don’t think I was too wrong; venues for story reading, debate and discussion concerning words, and most importantly opportunities for artists indiscriminate of advancement within their profession, or genus of profession, seemed scarce. In terms of regular events that are self-sustaining, draw a large audience, and address a variety of artist, I think Canberra, and more broadly Australia, is still quite an underdressed place.
The solution to this void partially lies in solving that tangible formula so much of the Arts struggles with: delivering consistently strong lineups, charismatic venues, creating income, and most challengingly (and imperatively,) reaching hoards of hungry audience. Each of these elements seems simple, but when you’re a team of one-to-three unpaid people running an event, or even a staff of festival producers working to a deadline, time begins to compromise the integrity of your Dream Formula. As an aside, I have to add, given an office and a wage I staunchly believe Scissors Paper Pen could make electricity from air alone.
Pardon the incoming tangent. The one excellent thing about running an organisation where the producers are unpaid is we’re collating content we completely support; there is no margin for false confidences in themes or artists because every minute we’re putting into an event is worth more than the dollar we could be earning (at one in the morning.) We’re also taught to be resourceful; there are no advertising budgets. With a budget of zero dollars, we learn how to use available mediums and medias to create the most comprehensive and diverse coverage of events. I can’t wait to see how this knowledge will manifest itself in decades to come, as we find ourselves budgeting and running proper-noun Festivals, Launches and Conferences.
Anyway, post-You Are Here festival it became apparent there’s a library of opportune methods for supporting and odeing writings, postulations and the creative arts. Resultantly, the production team have sat down and decided on a few excellent alterations (using scissors, paper, and pens!) We are introducing review writing and blogging on our new, cleaner, updatable website. We want the website and Scissors Paper Pen to begin to engage with Arts rhetoric, and not in a muck-stirring or contrarily high-brow manner — we think it’s time people started discussing events. Scissors Paper Pen is about learning how to synthesise and analyse the books we read, the panels we attend and the stories we listen to in the hopes of better understanding the purpose of these art forms, as well as divulging what audiences want to see arising from creativity. There’s more to writing than bloggery however. Playwriting, songwriting, composition and debate all fit our bill. We are keeping the usual eclecticism of events every so often, and there are plenty of upcoming surprises you’ll soon discover, both online and in some cosy venue during those imposing months of hibernation.
With our grant period drawing to a close, Scissors Paper Pen is also exploring the realms of sourcing funding. One of Nigel Featherstone’s comments during our ‘Yes Granted’ panel during You Are Here festival really stuck with me (we’ll have the whole podcast up in the next week. Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!)
He insisted artists shouldn’t apply for grants unless we really feel it’s necessary; unless we need the allowance because we couldn’t find it elsewhere, and/or unless that funding is vital to the development of something. I feel as though our grant has done what we needed it to do; it’s given Scissors Paper Pen a mind to rhyme and two hype feet, and a heart. We’re going to see what happens when we explore other funding avenues. While we do that, enjoy the new site (we’re still decorating. Please pardon the plastic over the floorboards) reminisce about the glory that was You Are Here festival, and we’ll let you know about our wild endeavours as they come to pass.