For me, at the end of every year, things get a bit reflective – the solstice is approaching, and as we go into that longest, darkest night, I like to think about what’s past and set my intentions for the brighter days.
It’s a year since I started at A Moment’s Peace as Artistic Director, and when I started, I felt the weight of responsibility in taking over from the inspiring Catrin Evans. I had a sense that while I was ready to start this job, it was one that, to some extent, I would have to grow into. At that time, I read a blog post by Catrin, where she observed that not only had she formed AMP, but that it had formed her too. I kind of wondered what that might feel like…
In December 2021, everyone at AMP was working hard to deliver At A Distance Together – a remote project that helped keep members connected, creative and well over the various lockdowns. There were home deliveries of creative packs, online creative tasks, Zoom workshops, phone calls and texts. Everyone was dedicated and inspired, but also exhausted.
It was this dedication, though, that really helped with our return to working in person. The connections maintained and the solidarity offered by that team of Sara, Elena, Najma and Mina during the pandemic meant that everyone was excited to be together ‘in real life’. Perhaps I was the most excited though, and I had some learning to do here about taking care and time to make this work. I was beginning to get a sense of being formed. As I was striving to re-form AMP into a live working space, AMP was gently forming me into someone who can balance my excitement with the need to go at a pace that honours everyone in the team.
This was the first time that I really examined the name of this organisation and ask what A Moment’s Peace can mean. For me, it’s about striving to bring peace to a restless and conflicted world, and I think AMP’s work should always aim to do that, in a variety of ways. But it’s also about the very smallest, most individual of human interactions that we experience day-to-day. At this point, I committed to doing everything I can to ensure that every single person who interacts with AMP - group members, staff, artists, partners - feels like they have truly had a moment’s peace.
For a small organisation, working within budget constraints and bouts of financial and therefore artistic uncertainty, that’s not always easy! But as Lucille Clifton said, “We cannot create what we cannot imagine.” While we were still masked-up and oxter-deep in hand sanitiser, it was indeed hard to imagine consistently offering monthly workshops let alone weekly ones. It took patience, teamwork, and meticulous planning to make it happen. AMP’s Comms and Development Officer, Julia Harriman, willingly expanded her remit and brought clarity, rigour and creativity to our fundraising strategy, securing funds from several new sources. And so, we have been holding fully accessible weekly workshops for both of our groups (Women’s Creative Company and Shared Space) since September.
This is part of our current storytelling project - Possible Worlds, which is funded by Creative Scotland and National Lottery Awards for All. Possible Worlds was conceived as we came out of the final lockdown as an exploration and celebration of what’s possible for humanity after so much uncertainty. We felt that this would be a good time to explore the distinct craft of storytelling – to give each performer a chance to take the stage and through storytelling and
using only their own voice, transport the audience to new places and characters. It was our good fortune that two storytellers with vast experience in participatory arts, Alice Fernbank and Gauri Raje, were able to work with the groups on this. Elaine Miller and Karen MacIver also joined the team for one-off workshops this season and we’re look forward to continuing our relationship with all four of these amazing women in 2023.
I’m also overjoyed to say that we had our first informal Possible Worlds event last month for Shared Space and we have another for Women’s Creative Company coping up in January. These are very informal sharings for family and friends only, and they not only serve to entertain but also to prepare both groups of performers for bigger public performances in 2023… Watch this space!
There have been big changes over the year as we’ve said goodbye to some staff and welcomed new colleagues onboard. Sara Marshall, AMP’s Company Producer of 6 years, left us in August, and I miss her very much. However, in November, we were delighted to announce that Abbie Wallace would move into the role. Abbie had been with us since April, as Engagement Coordinator and her dedication, diligence, warmth and life force in both roles have been invaluable to AMP’s development.
In November, we also engaged our new board of trustees – Shonagh Dillon, Liz Coyle, Martha Harding, Rosie Kay and Julie Smith – whose wisdom and passion for inclusion and empowerment is deeply in tune with AMP’s ethos. Already, the support and guidance of this stellar team is helping me do my job better, and the organisation to run more smoothly. If any readers are interested in joining the board, please do get in touch for a chat. We are particularly keen to welcome new members whose voices might not always be heard and who share the experiences of our two groups (WCC and Shared Space). My promise that any interaction with AMP should truly feel like a moment’s peace extends to board membership by the way!
A final and very welcome addition to our team this year is Florence Logan, our intern on placement from RCS. Compassionate, artistic, generous with her ideas, her art, and her heart, Florence embodies AMP’s core values. She’s here to learn as part of her course, but quite honestly, I’m grateful for the learning that she’s offering me. Yet again, I am being formed by AMP.
But the biggest highlight of the past year has been working with our groups and I feel deeply blessed to have inherited the leadership of Shared Space and WCC. Every week, we share stories, get creative, laugh together, drink endless cups of tea and share delicious food. Our work sheds light on surprising moments of commonality and consistently challenges me into new ways of thinking. This is what has formed me most.
So what’s next? Well, at the start of 2023, we will announce the appointment of our new Participation Coordinator, about which I’m very excited. We will continue to strengthen and widen our network of artists and work towards public performances of Possible Worlds. We will develop mentoring opportunities for our existing members and open our doors to new
members. Our board of trustees will continue to grow and support us to continue to make work that is bold, challenging and entertaining.
In my solstice reflections, I feel a deep sense of gratitude to our funders* and for the entire AMP team, including all those mentioned above as well as Matt Elliot, our Digital Consultant and Kae Sakurai our Bookkeeper. I’m counting my blessings to be among such a dedicated team and looking forward to getting stuck into 2023 together…
… but before that, it’s time to stop, take a breath, and recharge the batteries. So, finally, I wish you and your loved ones a relaxing and restorative Christmas break and many a moment’s peace in the New Year.
*A Moment’s Peace is currently funded by Glasgow City Council Communities Fund, Glasgow Wellbeing Fund, Tramway, Creative Scotland, The Longstone Trust, The Hilden Foundation, The National Lottery Community Fund and Arnold Clark.