CREATIVE SPACE #1 of 2020 (uploaded February 26th 2020)
CREATIVE SPACE is a series spotlighting local art and culture. As a brand, it dates back to 2009, published in LIAT’s inflight magazine. It was revamped in 2018 and ran to 2019 on Antiguanice.com. Its publishing partner, as of 2020, is the Daily Observer newspaper. There are plans for its continued evolution across multiple media platforms. CREATIVE SPACE is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse – Antiguan-Barbudan/Caribbean author, journalist, and freelancer.
This is the extended online edition with extras from her interview with Spilling Ink.
If you would like to be featured or to sponsor a future installment of the jhohadli.wordpress.com online edition of CREATIVE SPACE, BOOSTing your BRAND while boosting Antigua-Barbuda Art and Culture (contact Joanne to find out how)
CREATIVE SPACE: SPILLING INK
Spilled ink leaves an impression. So, too, National Youth Award winning local arts collaborative Spilling Ink.
It is a writing/arts team consisting of three founding members – Olsfred James, Gloreen Lake, and Mikhail Simmons, with additional board members – Kennassa Dinaard, Cherissa Collins, and Dominic Chastanet. They came to be Spilling Ink through the organic process of creating together.
“Our process to develop the name is the same process we used when we started writing as a team: each person would write a piece or thought for the other to finish thus drawing from the creativity of three separate experiences,” they responded collectively (via email) when asked how they came up with the name, defining themselves in the process.
Spilling Ink’s very existence upends the narrative that writing is a solitary form of expression. Their events – such as the upcoming Ink project (at which visual art is created, viewed, and sold, and cocktails are sipped) – invites other disciplines in to the collaborative experience in a big way.
Activities since Spilling Ink’s 2016 beginnings have included a series of books, and the atmospheric Poetry in the Park live open mic events giving our “artists a stage worthy of their talent”. The Ink Project held only once a year, meanwhile, is described as “a play on the senses’. It is next scheduled for March 1st 2020 at the Antigua Athletic Club.
These activities are consistent with the non-profit’s mission to “(build) a much-needed platform for ‘the Arts’ community within Antigua and Barbuda” and “to develop the arts more consistently”. In adding live events to it activities, the members of Spilling Ink are extending the legacy of the platform that gave members of Spilling Ink their start, the Expressions Open Mic.
In our soca-fete culture, in which arts generally, but lit arts in particular, are often overlooked, the type of events offered up by Spilling Ink are effectively, in their words, “counterprogramming… (providing) a form of entertainment that is outside the norm without directly competing with other establishments.”
Poetry in the Park, the second of which attracted 80 people proving to the organizers that they were on to something, has literally been held in a Park (Powell’s) though when I attended it was at Julee’s at Country Pond which proved a fitting substitute. But I primarily became aware of Spilling Ink online where they have done an impressive job of creating community especially among younger/emerging artists in a country “where lack of support around the arts” is one of the loudest laments. In this online village, they’ve shared multi-media art and artist profiles, collaborated and marketed, and shared knowledge. “The same way we built our following through social media, we are helping our artists become more known through the connections we have obtained.”
Like them, I am hesitant to mention particular names, so many have stepped to the mic, but the session I attended included a visual artist of the night, an author’s table, and genre skipping (hip hop, conscious dancehall, rnb) live musical and spoken word renditions. From regulars to first timers spontaneously moved to take the mic, they entertained, many with sensuous notes, one challenging to “listen to your roots/hold on to your culture”. There is usually a featured artist – on this night Glen Toussaint, himself responsible for the monthly offering, the Wadadli Pen Open mic at the Best of Books bookstore. He made us laugh out loud with renderings like a poem from the perspective of one of Antigua’s infamous potholes: “It was a dark time for our kind and we lost a lot of good potholes…during the great war of election 1984”.
You get the spirit. A lot more could be said about Spilling Ink, but look them up. Their vibrant social media presence makes them easy to find.
SPILLING INK EXTRAS
The originals – Olsfred James, Gloreen Lake, Mikhail Simmons.
The Spilling Ink Game of Thrones viewing party – a fundraiser and familiarization activity for people to get to know more about the organization. It was held at Area 51 bar and grill, first location of Poetry in the Park and sponsor of some of the other activities still. Pictured: Kennassa Dinard, Cherissa Collins, Mikhail Simmons, and Olsfred James.
JCH: Let’s talk the business of art – are you a for or non-profit? How does this affect/shape the work that you do? What are some of the tangibles that you think could boost the business of art making in Antigua and Barbuda, and, at the same time provide the CREATIVE SPACE for it to flourish?
Spilling Ink: Yes, we are an NGO. The business of a non-profit is financially tough yet culturally rewarding. To elaborate, in order to create a platform, various resources are needed, much like any business. Overhead cost of operating, marketing expenses, equipment, venue, décor etc, all these things come at a cost which we attempt to raise funds through our projects to make happen. We’re invested in making the platform we keep speaking of a reality.
The work Spilling Ink does is important and as such, we have been investing personal resources, seeking assistance from persons who we’ve made connections with and other methods to make each event and each project a success. The reward comes when we see these artists show up at our events each month, not just to showcase their talent, but to show us how much they grown and what new things they have developed since the previous month. Our culture is growing. We see the Arts coming alive.
One of our goals was to have the Cultural Division of Government fully support this organization and work alongside us and our artists. A fraction of that goal has been achieved as the Festivals Division recently came on board to sponsor our signature event, The Ink Project.
Our projects are not just limited to one platform, or one event. We have projects which assist with development of artist, training, exposure, publications, business development and so much more but require investment. In the coming months, we are working towards sourcing funding to continue our work in Cultural Tourism.
As we continue with our mission, the Arts Culture will grow and manifest into a sustainable resources for those who practise it, and bridging opportunities to expose our creatives abroad thus making building the bridge between Culture and Tourism, just as our events have bridged the gap between both logical and creative sides of the brain.
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