Creative Conversations No10: part2 with Richard Keenan from PopUp Dorset

11 Apr

Welcome to my concluding talk with Richard Keenan of PopUp Dorset to make this weeks Creative Conversations No10.

Between-the-Lines-6-by-Annie-Ward On this episode we hear Richard talk about networking, about the difficulties of making connections last year due to the Olympics and people’s workload. We talk about marketing and branding, of doing cross promotional work and getting your message out there. Touching on the difficulties arts organisations have when they’re all competing for the same money, at the same time as having to network and partner with each other.

We talk about practicalities of making a living as an artist. Richard tells us that 10 out of the 46 artist exhibited work in PopUp Dorset 2012 show were full-time professional artists who made a living from their practice.

We talk about the future for PopUp Dorset, of them looking at becoming a limited company, of why they decided on becoming Ltd rather than a CIC. We touch on plans for their 2013 exhibition which Richard is thinking might be about around “What is art for?”

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About the show

We hear from Richard about the connections he made before putting on the show. What connections with the other cultural Olympiad projects he made. I mention the major installation that had happened right next to the church where  pop-up Dorset’s exhibition was staged. This was ‘harmonic fields’ and opened two days before PopUp’s exhibition closed. This brought an audience into the exhibition on that last day and would have been beneficial to have tied the events together.

However they did have Olympic people, the security, athletes, officials, and they managed to get some publicity into the village through security and this brought these Olympic people over to see the show.

We go onto talk about practicalities of make a living as an artist. Richards experience is that some definitely do; about 10 out of the 46 artists that exhibited work on the show are full time professional artists who make their living from their practice.

They are now planning PopUp Dorset 2013. In terms of ideas and the possible venues, Looking at industrial sheds or unused shops for this exhibition. At this point Richard can’t see how they can do it without putting in a lot of time and effort for free. They have built up a nice collection of wood they can use again.  One of the major costs of the first exhibition was the wood so this will cut the costs down considerably this year. Richard tells us how if you get the materials together and the process together and build up a mailing list he can see PopUp Dorset being quite sustainable.

CICs Vs Ltd companies

They are now looking at formalising PopUp Dorset, they had been running as sole traders with Richard and Katy operating individually. They’ve looked at CIC’s, a community interest company, but the advice they had from people like the Arts Council is that organisations are still unsure of this type of organisational structure. They are used to dealing with limited companies. So at this point it looks like PopUp Dorset will become a limited company. Richard doesn’t feel this country is still properly understanding how to set up a social community-based company. Setting up a CIC is not much easier than just setting up a limited company and cost as much. So the benefits of becoming a CIC are unclear to Richard at this stage. To set up a limited company is very cheap, £15 and you can set one up.


We then go on to talk about promoting yourself as an artist. Richard sees two artists in this regard, one is somebody that promotes the exhibition, comes and helps at the show, and takes an active part, while the other will just drop the work off and go, they will have no further involvement. Richard feels that to get the most out of the show as an artist you have to spend a bit of time on it.

Future PopUp Dorset

We then go on to talk about the future for PopUp Dorset and talk about networking, making better connections with other local arts organisations. Cross promotional work Richard will be trying to develop. He will be following up on connections and develop new ones ready for 2013 show exhibition.

Richard found last year very difficult to connect with other arts organisations as people were so busy with the buildup to Olympics. That any fresh new enquiries from someone like Richard they didn’t have the time to deal with.

As a marketing officer Richard can understand the protection organisations feel for their brands and how sharing and doing cross promotional work can be difficult. But as a smaller organisation he would have appreciated the support that these organisations could have given him in taking his publicity and displaying at their events.

What is art for?

This will possibly be a key question around which PopUp Dorset’s show 2013 will be organised. What do people really get out of art? What value does it give their visitors. Answers to this question well give them an answer that all make them think through how worthwhile it is to put these shows on and will go into applying for public funding. The answer will help decide on should they apply for funding and even should they continue doing PopUp Dorset as it is.

Katy and Richard did art history at University, which is where they met in the late 1990s. Richard found that art gave him a way to see the world in different way; of thinking about things differently, processing thoughts, it had a positive effect on him. Richard feels that that same is true for most people and will use the exhibition is away of researching this question in a in a real way to find how true his perception is of people’s experience of art is.

We go on to talk about local press reaction to contemporary art and their typical reaction being to be negative. The press love a negative story. However this seems to put people off coming to see things, which had they gone without preconceptions they would have really enjoyed. We both found a lot of people having a really enjoyable time at the island, the big Southwest Cultural Olympiad project that visited Weymouth and Portland. People were swarming around the embassy, reading, pulling out drawers and talking to the support workers.

To find out more about PopUp Dorset visit:


2 Responses to “Creative Conversations No10: part2 with Richard Keenan from PopUp Dorset”


  1. Creative Conversations No10 with Richard Keenan from PopUp Dorset - JOE Stevens news - April 18, 2013

    […] To find out more and hear this show go to;… […]

  2. Overview of Series 2 of Creative Conversation | creative conversations - June 26, 2013

    […] episode 10 hear my concluding talk with Richard Keenan of PopUp Dorset.…/ […]

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