A new role for festivals in the changing economic climate?

Symposium – Resonant Terrains

10-12 October 2013, Portland, Dorset


The new role of festivals in the changing climate of arts provision will be the topic of discussion for cultural professionals gathering for Resonant Terrains, a symposium taking place on Portland, Dorset from 10 to 12 October 2013.

The symposium is organised by Dorset-based b-side multimedia, an artist-led organisation which specialises in presenting work in less obvious sites. Typically for b-side, Resonant Terrains takes place at an unusual venue – HM Prison The Verne, set in the rugged landscape of the Isle of Portland.

Resonant Terrains asks the question:

If festivals are the new platform, and sites the new venues, what can they offer and what can’t they offer artists, curators and audiences?

Producers, artists, curators, and other cultural professionals will gather to discuss issues about site-based practice and the role of festivals at a time when many venues are struggling due to cuts in arts funding.

B-side Producer Sandy Kirkby said:

“With arts funding cuts affecting so many venues, festivals, biennials and events that present contemporary art in temporary locations are increasingly being seen as the way to commission and present visual arts and media. Resonant Terrains is an opportunity for artists, producers, curators and other cultural professionals to discuss the issues and opportunities for festivals and site-based art.”

The new Director of Visual Arts at Arts Council England, Peter Heslip will open the two day event. Creative interventions during the two days will include:


A keynote performance lecture by artist Phil Smith within the historical walls of the chapel at HM Prison The Verne.

Producer and researcher Alex Murdin will explore the potential and proven benefits of art in public space, asking how it can contribute to social and economic objectives.

Sue Palmer and Joff Winterhart will explore the corners, signage and human life of the Fortuneswell area of Portland.

Jez Riley French will use unconventional devices to provide different ways to listen to sounds normally hidden from our naked ears.

A bus tour with Neal White will draw upon Portland’s unique coastal location, geological properties and social history, which make it an ideal field laboratory for scientists, naturalists and the military.

In a session on research-led practice, artists Simon Ryder and Frances Scott will discuss and share examples of research processes for festival and sites contexts.

The main debate of the symposium Festivals and sites, platforms for arts practice, will consider how, in this period of great economic change, the artistic landscape demands that artists and organisations forge new paths through unfamiliar territory. Finding a foothold on this rapidly evolving terrain, festivals and similar events are increasingly seen as the future.

Alex Murdin will present community perspectives and the impact of temporary (socially engaged) commissions on social and economic objectives.

Katie Etheridge will bring an artist’s perspective of making work for and within sites in a festival context.

Dany Louise will speak about the national picture of festivals and biennials and their economic and cultural benefits

Grace Davies, Coordinator for Visual Arts South West will discuss recent developments on the proposal for an international art event or biennial for the South West.

Carolyn Black Director of Flow Contemporary Arts will chair panel discussions between speakers and delegates.

The Symposium – Resonant Terrains takes place from 6pm 10 October to 6pm on 12 October 2013 on Portland, Dorset. A £60 ticket includes both days of the Symposium, artist led events, film screenings, meals and can be booked online.





For further information

Gillian Taylor 07768 458601


Notes for editors

The Resonant Terrains Symposium programme is available to download


b-side multimedia is an artist-led organisation, which works with, and commissions artists to make new site-responsive work revealing the marginal, often forgotten and less commercial aspects of Dorset’s coastal towns and communities. A biennial festival in Weymouth and Portland showcases the work of the organisation. The next b-side Festival takes place in September 2014.