I’m in the Interval office, as usual, and no one else is here. I bat between getting a lot of work done (normally when there is a deadline imposed), and nothing at all. The in between stage is that I do something like write this, which doesn’t need to be done, but at least has some ‘air’ of productivity about it. These are usually my favourite things to do.
This morning I got here and spent the first twenty minutes sitting on the roof with a cup of coffee reading Alan Read’s ‘Theatre & Everyday Life’, whilst looking at the everyday life passing on college green below and I couldn’t help grinning to myself – this is really fucking good! And then feeling a bit melancholy about the fact that we have to leave.
However, there are parts of me very excited to leave, and reading a book is certainly one of them. Jojo (the other half of Clerke and Joy) came in the other week and we were looking through the sort-of library here to find books for a photoshoot for our performance lecture Tips for the Real World. We got talking about having a proper library in the ‘new place’.
‘Each individual member of Interval probably has a couple of hundred pounds worth of performance related books at home – imagine if they were all here, it would be so good, really useful.’
I’ve never taken many of my ‘school’ books into this building because I worry they will get lost or not looked after. We have a bookshelf here and although I love to browse it feels very rough, scrappy – a depository for books people weren’t so concerned about losing.
Jojo and I are keen in the ‘new place’ (which doesn’t yet exist) to set up a system where we all bring in as many books as we want, and we label and register them all in some kind of list so that it works like a real library. We’d keep track of who owns what book, and if you wanted to borrow it there’d be a place to write it down.
It’s a very small thing to do that might make our library much bigger and more usable. How great it would be to pool resources have access to all these books that normally lurk at home (for that, after all, is what libraries are for, right?).
The problem with the current situation in this building is one that I’ve experienced a lot before, mainly when I’ve been imminently moving house or leaving a city. It’s not that we couldn’t make a library work in the Parlour, much like it still wouldn’t be impossible to re-decorate the kitchen here – something that Jo Hellier and I have long dreamed of doing – it’s that it just doesn’t feel worth it anymore. What’s the point in putting in all the effort only to have to undo it and move it again in a couple of months?
It’s this sort of thing that gives the whole place a feeling of winding-down, and is the reason that it’s so important we find somewhere soon to move into. Between us we have a lot of ideas for things that we can do to make this collective more useable, more of a community, more supportive. There is no lack of intention and feeling within this group, but it seems futile to push an idea in a space that is going to be empty by the end of the year.
We use this space on a meanwhile use basis. It’s a brilliant scheme whereby we get free use of the building until it is sold, or needs to be used by someone else (someone who can pay money). I think it’s a fantastic way for artists to establish a space within the city. However, whilst the constant threat of quickly moving on in these spaces can be refreshing, it is also stifling. As a very young group it is important to have a transient, fluid nature, but we are growing – we have grown, and we need an opportunity to develop.
If we could have the stability of a space I have no doubt that we would make more happen in it. That we would care for it, put time into making it what we want it to be. I hope that Bristol City Council can recognise this and can see what we have already achieved and have the potential to achieve if they give us the opportunity. Whilst they have said they are committed to finding us somewhere new (the ‘new place’) we are still unsure whether they will or not. We’ve already experienced and come to understand the debilitating lack of communication between the arts team, who want to support us, and the properties team, who want to get rid of us. And even if they do find somewhere, it’s hard to know if there will be any stability for us to grow: build a library, paint the kitchen.
I’ve got big hopes for this hotch-potch group of people, I hope they’ll see that. I hope they’ll let us grow.
I hope we find a new home soon.