Agencies and Managers

It may be helpful to get an agent to manage your tours, events and opportunities so that you can focus on the creative part of your work. It can be difficult to promote yourself but if producing and curating is of particular interest, perhaps starting your own agency may be the way to go.

Case Study: Electra: Starting a production agency

Irene Revell, Assistant Director, Electra

Who are you and how did you start out?

We're a London-based commissioning, curating organisation that works mainly in the visual arts, but with areas that are somehow interdisciplinary, such as sound, film and video. It's about recontextualising what they want to share into a wider context or wider public, so we like to commission and we curate work as well; whenever we commission we like to produce the work as well.

The forming of the organisation happened quite organically. My director at the time, Lina Dzuverovic was working on a project called Her Noise and Anne Hilde Neset was also on board, working with the producer and they realised they could do what the producers were doing for themselves, so they decided to form an agency just like that. Not that there's anything wrong with working with an outside producer, but they felt that it would make as much sense to write their own funding applications and search for potential venues for their projects themselves. That's how it started and once there was an infrastructure it grew after that.

Electra had quite a lot of grants for arts funding and development funding from the Arts Council to develop the projects, which funded the operation structure and desk space two days a week. Then, Electra was lucky enough to be invited by the Arts Council visual arts department to go for three RFOs working in the media. We put in our proposal and were lucky enough to be selected. We got a new infrastructure and office and became more formalised.

How do you develop your projects?

We work with the same artists again and again and develop relationships that go beyond just one project. It is about mutual benefit and carrying on a relationship. Smaller organisations tend to be more responsive to outside offers and are proactive as well. For instance, the project at Chisenhale came out of a conversation with an old colleague at a museum, which lead Electra to curating an exhibition and new commissions came out of that. It wasn't a case of: 'Oh, we thought it would be great to do a show with Kurt Schwitters in Norway,' but ideas grew organically during the conversation.

It really depends – some projects are more self-initiated, and others are more reactive. Some projects, for instance, the Sound Escapes exhibition last year, was completely responsive, where Peter Kusack came to us with the idea of having this exhibition to mark the end of this research project. That was completely in place and they just wanted co-curators and producers to realise it on the other end of the spectrum. A project like Her Noise started from an idea and then was a long process of convincing other people and planning.

Electra is a London based contemporary art agency that specialises in curating, commissioning and producing cross-disciplinary projects across sound, moving image, performance and the visual arts. Through close collaboration with venues and production partners, Electra presents its projects across the UK and internationally.

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