ON THE BLOG: David Drake, Director of Ffotogallery

Ffotogallery, the national photography agency for Wales, was the project coordinator for a 24-month Cooperation Project called European Prospects. David Drake, Director of Ffotogallery Wales, reflects on the projects and on six years of international working in Europe. 

About the project

“I want to highlight the value of finding the right collaborators for a project, and on establishing a common platform and shared objectives for transnational cooperation.

“The European Prospects project aimed to develop, through transnational working between artists and cultural professionals, the use of photography and lens-based art to investigate and articulate contemporary European experience. A key objective was to enable artists and cultural professionals from across Europe to cooperate around the making and presentation of new work that addresses what it means to be a part of Europe today, in all its diverse forms.”

Creating a pan-European network

“Critical to the project’s success was the creation of a pan-European network of like-minded, committed and engaged cultural activists. We were determined that this network would not be limited to representatives from the four member states of the project co-organisers. To lay the foundations for such a network, Ffotogallery brought together a wide range of prospective partners to scope out the project, prior to submitting the application for EU funding. “ 

“A key principle throughout would be that artists, curators, publishers and commissioners of photography from across Europe would participate in portfolio reviews, juries for selecting artists for exhibitions, projects and residencies. They would also be invited to present at conferences and workshops and to use the online platform to publicise their own opportunities for artists.

"All activities would involve multinational groups of people, and be devised through artists and cultural professionals collaborating and interacting creatively with each other. Thus, a new dynamic of collaboration was created within the network leading to future cooperation projects, developing further synergies."

Project success

"Beyond delivery of the planned activities, there were a number of lateral outcomes to the project that arose from the pan-European network we created. Michal Iwanowski, f&d cartier, Corinne Silva, Andreas Langen, Paula Gortazar, David Barnes, Holly Davey, Huw Davies, Faye Chamberlain, The Caravan Gallery, Malcolm Dickson, Jean-Marc Lacabe and Catrine Val secured new residency and exhibition opportunities as a direct result of the visibility and new contacts made through European Prospects.

"The inclusion of Catrine Val’s Feminist in the European Chronicles exhibition in Cardiff resulted in one of her images being commissioned for the cover of rock band The Manic Street Preachers’ new album ‘Futurology’, ensuring global visibility of her work.  

"Such has been the success of the European Prospects’ portal website, in terms of building a pan-European network of artists, curators, festival organisers, publishers and cultural activists, that Ffotogallery decided to continue to support the platform, maintaining editorial control and uploading new content.It is a unique and high quality web-based resourced enabling photographic artists from across Europe to present their work to international photography professionals with a view to new commissioning, exhibition or publishing opportunities. As well as providing live documentation of European Prospects and its activities, keeping the online resources up to date ensures that the reach and impact of the project extends beyond the period covered by EU funding."

Continued collaborations

"Facilitating early and ongoing contact between artists and organisations also ensured that new opportunities for fruitful collaboration have continued to arise. The European Prospects core organisations and their associate partners are committed to strengthening and reinforcing their cooperation through ongoing and future projects.

"Exhibitions and publications of work resulting from European Prospects residencies have already been delivered in 2016 and 2017, such as Jana Romanova’s Adopted Welsh during Cardiff Contemporary 2016 and the A Tale of Two Cities exhibition in Stuttgart and Cardiff in 2015. 

"These activities have provided another tangible and sustainable legacy of the project. A new grouping of five partners from the network submitted a Creative Europe bid against the November 2016 deadline, for a programme called Detours and Destinations.

"Whether this application is successful or not, the artists and partner organisations in the network will continue to work together and deliver exciting new collaborative projects – such is the strength of the relationships built up over the last five years of international working."

David Drake