One urgent task when commencing a new collaboration is to identify the structure of the project. As well as the content you wish to explore, critical logistical questions must be answered, including: How long will it take? How big will it be? What processes will be used to research and develop the work? What skills will be needed? Where and when will the outcome take place?
It is difficult to find funding for new interdisciplinary projects. When financial support for a collaboration is not forthcoming, there are two typical solutions:
- Work together on small, flexible projects that require few resources and can fit around other commitments. The University of Westminster’s undergraduate Art-Science Program uses this model, prompting students to collaborate on numerous small-scale projects throughout the semester. Creative solutions to the significant financial and time constraints on these projects are strongly rewarded.
- Take a long lead time to extensively pursue funding and R&D before undertaking a large-scale project. Toronto group The Mission Business exemplify this approach. Beginning the preparations for transmedia experiential futures work ZED.TO in early 2010, The Mission Business worked for two and a half years researching, devising, fundraising, finding partners and building momentum before finally launching in mid-2012.
Sometimes, external producers or partners might guide the shape of the project by making a strong curatorial offer.
Often these suggestions do not match what the project seeks to do or how the collaborators wish to work, but sometimes, a provocative suggestion at the right time can trigger exciting new ideas and inspire new partnerships.
The Battersea Arts Centre in London is known for its innovative programming and support of new work. BAC’s One-On-One and Blink Festival have both proven irresistable to artists who fight to be involved despite the lack of financial or logistical support, simply because of the stimulating curatorial concepts behind them: The One-on-One Festival is a festival of performance works created for just one audience member at a time, while Blink is a festival of performances under three minutes long.
The strict restrictions these festivals impose on performers often proves inspirational, with artists responding eagerly to the challenging brief.
Similarly, it may be possible to attract artists and scientists to engage without offering financial incentives, simply by providing them with a sufficiently stimulating provocation.
It is worth working with curators and producers to explore structures for science-art collaboration that are inexpensive, but potentially rewarding because of the creative or scientific challenges they offer.