Jupiter Rising residency and festival literally gives a stage to marginalised groups in art and music

Curators and co-founders Sarra Wild and Claire Feeley tell us about their work for the Scottish charity that swims against the current in a “historically exclusive industry”.

24 May 2021

A New Angle is an editorial series that aims to give a platform to creative industry changemakers who make it their mission to disrupt the status quo. Each week we’ll chat to a person or team doing important work in the sector, making it a fairer place, championing vital causes, supporting underrepresented groups and tackling pertinent issues facing creatives everywhere.

This week we meet Sarra Wild and Claire Feeley, two key figures in the Jupiter Rising residency and festival in Scotland. Both events are based out of Jupiter Artland, a contemporary sculpture park and art gallery outside Edinburgh, which holds exhibitions such as its current show with Rachel Maclean, and previously Phyllida Barlow. Sarra is a DJ, artist and curator, co-founder of OH141 collective and the Rising residency, whose work is dedicated to championing emerging, working class artists in the Black and Brown and LGBTQIA+ communities in Scotland. Claire is a curator, writer and producer, and head of exhibitions and learning programmes at Jupiter Artland. She co-founded Jupiter Rising festival in 2018 as a platform to support artists, musicians, thinkers and performers to reinvent the festival format. Sarra and Claire tell us more about both projects and their ongoing missions.

It’s Nice That: What about the creative industry are you hoping to change and why does it need changing?

Claire Feeley: For art, for music, for festivals and for culture as a human right for everyone, I agree with David Harvey when he says that the question of what we want in the culture “industry” cannot be divorced from the question of “what kind of people we want to be, what kind of social relations we seek, what relations with nature we cherish, what values we hold”. We could start by not calling it the creative industry, which already suggests that some people are on the “inside” and others excluded. Can we stand by our beliefs? Jupiter Rising Festival’s ethos is 360° welcome and every day we ask ourselves about whose voice is excluded, what’s already flourishing that needs celebrating, and as a group of female and non-binary people putting together a music festival in a historically exclusive industry, how does the way we work together produce something extraordinary?

INT: What have you built, and how does it tackle these industry issues?

Sarra Wild: With OH141, an arts and music platform based in Glasgow, set up in late 2015, we have been able to create opportunities and provide what was missing space for collaboration and experimentation for emerging artists within music and the arts, both locally and internationally. We did so through putting together forward-thinking, inclusive club nights, setting up a platform for marginalised communities to come together under one roof and hosting talks and workshops with the aim of creating access and skills for our community. It’s also setting an example to the white, male-dominated creative industry on how to make their platforms more inclusive and accessible to communities that have historically been left out or whose contributions have not been brought to the forefront.

With the Rising Residency, I approached Jupiter Artland, having already collaborated with them on their Jupiter Rising Festival to set up an artist residency to address the lack of opportunities and representation given to marginalised communities within the arts in Scotland. A paid, inclusive and accessible residency where, like OH141, collaboration and experimentation amongst members of marginalised communities are encouraged. The Rising Residency and OH141 are among the first of their kind within the creative industry in the UK to put Black and Brown folk and the LGBTQIA+ community at the forefront of the change needed.

INT: What other organisations are out there like yours, and what sets yours apart?

CF: I’m looking to folk that aren’t afraid to step outside their comfort zone or specialism – that is the place to meet people, to listen, to learn, to understand what the work is. Whether it’s visual art, experimental music, film, moving image or even civic activism – it’s all too easy to speak only to your own following. For that reason, I’m not going to speak of like-minded orgs, even though I love them. I love Gal-Dem for keeping journalism alive; Laurie Anderson for sheer creative force; International Anthem and Elastic Arts in Chicago for the music; Michael Clark for movement; Bev Glenn Copeland for their voice; and Scottish Rights of Way for making it a statutory law that I can exist in the landscape.

INT: What are the major challenges you’re facing?

SW: Lack of accessible physical space has been an issue lately. Even before Covid-19. That in itself is rooted in lack of funding and in the aim of trying to stay independent as a cultural curator dedicated to centring the experiences of marginalised artists trying to exist in a white, male-dominated industry.

INT: What can the creative industry do to support your mission?

SW: Hire us, and by us I mean working class, queer Black and Brown folk and women. Give us the opportunity to reach and connect with our own communities. The opportunity to not only create but run our own forward-thinking, inclusive and accessible creative spaces is the way forward and for real/ lasting change to happen.

CF: Sarra makes a very good point about access. For cultural democracy to exist, to flourish even, we need a level playing field where grassroots and artist-led gigs, exhibitions and collectives can thrive. Giving us the basement in the pub on a Tuesday doesn’t work anymore. Dare I suggest those city councils take a look at underused buildings and public spaces? Let’s not forget history either – grassroots theatre flourished (albeit briefly) in the late 80s and early 90s. Can we learn from each other? Can we work together? Aside from that, do check out the artists involved in Jupiter Rising this year and support them where you can. Alongside OH141, we’re working with the awesome Night School Records, Lost Map Records and sign up for the newsletter to hear the full lineup, released on 12 May.

Jupiter Rising takes place on 27 and 28 August 2021.

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

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