I've just come back from a couple of days at Verge- the National Ceramics Conference in Brisbane. It was very exciting to catch up with old friends and meet new people. I especially appreciate these events for the fact that younger artists are exposed to the older (wiser!) generation. It was great to speak to icons of Australian pottery such as Kevin Grealy and Johanna Demaine about their careers and history in the ceramic community.
Michael Keighery was part of a panel talking about the future of ceramics in Australia and I think his comments could apply to all areas of craft and art. Keighery was saying that although there is less and less funding available and colleges and art departments are closing and consolidating artists have to get out in the public and not just rely on government funding to make a living or to create new work.
I think that in some ways our reliance on government funding and grants has taken art away from the everyday life and created a self referential niche of grant junkies and bureaucrats. This can be depressing for new artists trying to break in to the funding cycle and creates an exclusive feel to the arts which turns many people off. I think grants are great but you don't have to get grants to make it as an artist what you need are clients, patrons and supporters- to this end I say don't try to break into the government funding cycle, try to break away from it.
Hold craft guerilla events in your local neighborhood, open studios and street stalls are a great way to expose your work to locals in the environment where it was made. Blogging is also a great way to get your work out and create your own virtual community. The Mob Store in Brisbane hosts a tiny jewelry workshop and these craft guerrillas are on the front line fighting back control of their own craft destinies through competitions, home sales, and unusual venues such as Reverse Garbage. The Yellow House in Brighton (UK) opens every weekend in May for the Brighton festival and promotes five or six artist by turning the entire house into and exhibition space for a month. Craft is robust enough to be out in the world buffeted by the winds of change and excitement. Guerilla craft events can be a lighthearted way of engaging new people and compliment a gallery based practice.