For our 'In Conversation with' column, we are pleased to share with you our interview with the Cultural Manager, Producer and Assistant Programme Manager of the London Creative Network at SPACE Studios, Valentina Orrù.
12th November 2020 | Image Curators Advisory
Valentina, You Are A Cultural Manager With A Background In Cultural Policy, And Now Working As Assistant Programme Manager Of The London Creative Network At SPACE Studios. How Did You Develop An Interest In The Arts And, More Specifically, When You Started To Be Passionate About Supporting Artists?
My interest in the arts comes from some of my high school teachers. I was so lucky to be taught by individuals who loved their job and had a genuine interest in their students. I have great memories of the conversations we, students, were encouraged to have among us and with teachers, during history, philosophy, literature and art classes. That’s when I realised that it was good to be critical and have my opinions on things and that arts were a great channel to express them. Working with artists has come after my studies at University and maybe in a way as a result of not studying art as such and not being an artist myself. A lot of my friends are artists and I think I am naturally drawn towards people who express themselves through a form of art. Also, I think I am a pretty empathetic and curious person.
“What makes an artistic practice different from any other job is that it’s deeply intertwined with what a person is and believes”
What Is The Name Of The Next Song?
The Name of the Next Song is my blog and a platform where I showcase other people’s projects and ideas, mainly through interviews. I started it when I moved to London in 2015. I didn’t know almost anyone here back then, and that was my excuse to get to know people: “Hey, my name is Valentina, I run this blog, can I interview you?”. It was a fun thing to do and my strategy to overcome shyness. Since then the blog has evolved, and my role within it has too. I see it more as a space where artists and cultural practitioners can talk about themselves and what they do, and I am there to make that available to them. For some of them, it’s the first time they get featured somewhere online, so the interview is also a link they can include in their CVs and applications to opportunities. I am so pleased when that happens! Recently the blog has been featuring a lot of projects based in Sardinia, which is where I am originally from. My aim is to highlight these amazing things that are happening there right now and develop an international narrative around them.
Valentina Orrù. Photo Credit: David Mirzoeff
Looking Back To Your Experience Working With International Artists And Interviewing Art Professionals On Your Platform - The Name Of The Next Song. What Are The Most Common Obstacles That Artists Encounter During Their Careers Today? And What Would You Suggest They Do To Overcome Them?
I think that common obstacles for artists are juggling a work-life balance and the financial viability of their practices/projects. Some time ago I was involved in a workshop as part of the London Creative Network about setting goals for yourself and keeping them on track. One of the things that were discussed, and I keep thinking about, was the importance of being honest with ourselves about the things that we do and want. The participants at the workshop were asked to think about this question: What’s the balance between your art practice and the other aspects of your life, such as social and financial? I guess this is something that can apply to all of us whether we are artists or not. But what makes an artistic practice different from any other job is that it’s deeply intertwined with what a person is and believes, so things like saying “no”, negotiating, making choices, setting boundaries or goals for oneself can be hard.
So, to answer your question about strategies to overcome these challenges, I think that there are many factors involved. It’s a mix of self-reflection, inner strength, focus, determination, commitment, outside barriers and opportunities, and mysterious forces such as luck.
“There are endless possibilities to reinvent yourself and what you do. Nothing is one way only.”
Your Expertise Spans From Curating And Delivering Programmes, To Fundraising And Creating Marketing Plans. Do You Have Any Tips To Share With Our Readers?
Something I’ve learned from working in various projects and my experience of living in London is that there are endless possibilities to reinvent yourself and what you do. Nothing is one way only – or if it’s so, it shouldn’t be. I think that there are multiple ways things can be done and seen, changed, readjusted, stopped and re-started again; and each of them is subjective and valid. Learning to say “no” is so important. Also, listening a lot and following your instinct – always.
Valentina Orrù is a cultural manager, producer and Assistant Programme Manager on London Creative Network at SPACE. With a background in cultural policy, her expertise includes project management and the creative economy. She writes a blog called The Name of the Next Song.