blogpost about community art centres and Prema

I wrote this on my Flow Contemporary Arts website and today it is pertinent to share here. I’m exhibiting at Prema, so a bit of backstory may be useful to readers. You can read the whole article here.

Or here’s a  an extract:

Below is a long list of my relationship with Prema (dates are approximate, my memory fails me a little):

1987 I took my kids to family arts workshops on Saturday mornings at Prema. Also went to see performances, music etc

1988 first went to a life drawing class there – the tutor told me I was good and should go to art college. With a 3yr old and a 1yr old, I just laughed

1989 I started my art foundation at UWE, same day my youngest started school.

1990 I started by degree at UWE. I also taught workshops and Saturday clubs for kids. One of the little ones I taught is now my graphic designer, Nic Bennet.

1992 2nd year students at UWE had a show there called 2/3rds Through


(image was my work!)

1993/4 (can’t remember) had a show at Prema – the rest is history…..

Future years – I did some marketing for them; I attended lots of stunning performances by new physical theatre groups. I used the dark room.

Around 2005 I attended  ‘Can’t Sing to Save your Life’ course – I’d always wanted to sing but was terribly shy. I LOVED it and have been in many choirs since. I think it helped me lose my shyness too (no comments, thank you). Yesterday I saw Lizzie, the singing tutor for the first time since then – and told her that one of the songs she taught me gave me the strength to leave my failing marriage of 30 years…, it was so good to tell her that.

And there we were, in the same room, discussing leadership, ABCD and how important the arts are to our lives and how we need to celebrate that. In the morning I had attended a funding workshop aimed at informing charities how to seek funding – how to fill their deficits. And in the afternoon I was in a place, Prema, that had constantly fed my not-enough until I was brimming with delight at what I HAVE. And much of that came from Prema – an organisation that is not self-serving –  it supports the community in which it resides. And when I say community I mean both arts community AND local community. Prema has grown and changed over time, but what it has consistently done is meet the needs of its users. It puts people at the forefront of its thinking through good management and exemplary leadership. It feels like a home, not just for me, but for everyone that goes there.

There was a lot of talk about community in the room, kindness, wholeheartedness, all somewhat gushy compared to the hard-nosed economic business model we are being levered into. We are artists. We are emotional and we care. Those are our assets and we must learn to use it and refuse to be constantly trying to prove our economic viability.

We have social assets, and are brimming with them. Prema proves that.




Published by carolyn black

I'm an artist and also commission contemporary art in unusual locations. As a producer, I fundraise, curate, project manage and deliver projects. I'm also a writer and film-maker.

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