What ARI’ya waiting for? – A snapshot of the Artist Run Initiative

For a vast majority of students, a career in the creative industries is why we’re at university. The bridge between university and ‘that’ job that your parents would love you to finally acquire can be summed up in one word: experience.
 If you’re an emerging artist, designer, writer, curator, critic, gallery technician, arts administrator or human being with somewhat creative skills then read on.

Sebastian Goldspink Alaska Projects Photograph Courtesy of Sebastian Goldspink and Alaska Projects

Alaska Projects
Photograph Courtesy of Sebastian Goldspink and Alaska Projects

Allow me to re-introduce to you the world of the ARI. We’ve all seen them, we’ve heard mention of them before and we’ve been meaning to get down to one. An ARI as they’re fondly known, is an artist-run-initiative, more often then not, popping up in the form of a gallery. There are around twenty ARI’s currently functioning throughout Sydney. Firstdraft, Mop, Alaska, Archive_ Space, Project, The Corner and Tap Gallery should ring a bell. Many artists will have their first solo or group exhibition at an ARI, as they offer support and opportunities to launch a person’s career. Many future art space directors and workers start here as well, learning about all things arts administration and curation. These are perfect grounds for experimentation, artistic growth, risk-taking, flexibility, collaboration and expanding your skills within a practical environment.

So why do you need to know this? Because you need the ARI and they need you!

Lauren Carroll Harris and Hannah Carroll Harris Into Thin Air Install shot, Document Photography  Courtesy of the artists and Archive Space

Lauren Carroll Harris and Hannah Carroll Harris, Into Thin Air Install shot. Photography Courtesy of the artists and Archive Space

According to ALASKA director Sebastian Goldspink, the best things about ARI’s is “meeting a wide variety of artists and helping them achieve great things.” David Greenhalgh from Archive_ Space in Newtown believes that “contributing in an ARI is fantastic for meeting new people, supporting emerging practices and working with a passionate team”. With the good, should come the ‘not-so-great’. As an ARI worker there are a few things that you need to have a heads-up on. Sebastian Goldspink states that, “It takes a lot of time and there are lots of late nights.” Over at Archive_ Space, the committee are primarily from an arts background and running a gallery needs a lot of administration. Greenhalgh admitted that, “It’s not as stimulating as the making of art, but at least we’re surrounded by a fun environment all the time!”

Fiona Susanto  First Draft Gallery 2014 Courtesy of Broadsheet

First Draft Gallery 2014, Photo Courtesy of Broadsheet. Photographer Fiona Susanto

Your role in the future of Australian Art is as big as you’re willing to go and make it. There may be sleepless nights, minor bodily injury, curating failures and a possible spelling typo in 300 exhibition invites, but when you’re in a place that allows room for failure, you’re finally encouraged to grow and become a success. The moment you curate your first show, meet like-minded people, sell some artworks, pack out an opening night or get a great review, you know it’s all worth it. The ARI’s are getting it right, and you don’t want to miss this train!

ARI guru Goldspink says, “Be strong and be the best you can be. Don’t try and be like someone else. Spend time thinking about what you are interested in. Work hard and don’t be distracted by the fashion and gossip of the art world.”