About us

 

Working since 2001, Arika is a political arts organisation concerned with supporting connections between artistic production and social change.

 

PRESENT 

We think of art as a relationship that constantly unfolds in the realm of the common, a process and a continuum. We see our role in this unfolding relationship as celebrating and supporting connections between art and social change. When we say art, we mean the ways we sing and dance together, the ways we listen and want to be heard, how we look and hope to be seen, how we think of our bodies and how we move through space, how we feel and want to be felt, for example.

We currently do this through a programme of public events called Episodes comprising performances, discussions, screenings and collective learning. Developing iteratively, each informing the next, they often involve watching, listening, talking or dancing together. They are a continuation, through friendship and solidarity, of conversations we are entangled in both locally and internationally. Especially, Episodes are committed to experiments in a sociality that goes beyond personhood and that propose new ways of living in the world today, born of collective desires and struggle. More on them here

We are also trying to practice being accomplices with specific UK based activist and political communities who we have long-term relationships with, supporting their specific struggles.

We do our best to act in solidarity with local groups whose ideas, experiences and struggles we feel especially connected to, recognising how critical the resistance of these groups is. We co-operate closely with specific groups who are pushing back against the violence of racist borders, poverty and criminalisation of sex work; taking their lead on projects and events they want to see happen. Each activity is suggested and decided upon by the community then managed by them with Arika’s collaborative support. A few of those events are open to a wide public, like parts of the Sex Workers’ Festival of Resistance and the How to Ally with Sex Workers on Decriminalisation of Sex Work events. However, most are specifically with smaller more discrete groups and are not broadly publicised. Other events we organise, such as the Episodes, are directly nourished and informed by the multiple insights these smaller projects generate. More about Local Organising here

Arika is inspired and galvanized to do this work by many predecessors: artists, organisers, witches, anarchists, students, educators, heretics, activists, militants, mothers, children, as well as those who make trouble in between and at the peripheries of these and other categories. We hope in our work to pay tribute to these histories, and carry on the belief that radical forms of resistance can find crucial support in the aesthetic registers of social life.  

 

AGENCY 

We recognise that Arika has, over time, accrued certain access to resources and potential to leverage funding that others might not be able to access. 
 
In our Episodes, we try to use those resources to centre the ideas, voices and practices of communities seeking to dismantle the oppressions that are disproportionately killing them and damaging all of us.
 
Through our Local Organising project, we dedicate around a quarter of our programme funds and one permanent member of Arika to local political groups (sex worker led, migrant led and anti-poverty organising groups), and co-operate with them to create events initiated and chosen by the groups.
 
Through collaborative projects like I wanna be with you everywhere and Master Ballstar Weekend we have brokered situations where communities can access art world resources, and work with them to create events and work that reflect how they would like to make use of those resources.
 
Whilst as a group we inhabit multiple different identities, lived experiences and backgrounds, we acknowledge that at present all current permanent staff members of Arika are white. As such we recognise that the above work is not enough.
 
Additionally, we want to acknowledge the key contributions previous staff members who are People of Colour have made. They, in conjunction with many BIPOC artists, activists and scholars with whom we have long term collaborations, have shaped Arika creatively and politically. We want to acknowledge these contributions whilst also being in the process of taking responsibility for who is represented and holds agency at Arika.
 
Since Summer 2018 we have been in the process of fundraising for a permanent new programming role within Arika. This process has been interrupted by the COVID-19 crisis and the (hopefully momentary) pause to certain funding programmes. Alongside this we are revising our recruitment processes in recognition of the implicit biases within the art world which disproportionately centre whiteness. We have a definitive commitment to employ more BIPOC staff at Arika and are examining our internal structures in order to be able to do this in a non-tokenised way. We acknowledge the wisdom and labour undertaken by BIPOC in creating resources and calling whiteness to account that informs and enables this work. 
 

 

PAST

Archive

Since 2011 we’ve been working to bring documentation of our past work into the public domain through our website. On this site you can access an extensive archive of video and audio recordings of experimental music, art work, discussions, films and performances. 

If you, or an organisation you are a part of would like to enquire about our archive, or propose a conversation around particular documents, artists or themes, please contact us at info@arika.org.uk

If you wish to know more generally, to become involved in some of Arika’s activities, or to offer feedback, please contact us at the above email address.

Past Projects

At last count we’ve organised over 1,200 events attended by at least 142,000 people and featuring about 1,350 artists, filmmakers, performers, dancers, musicians, philosophers, activists, community organisers, academics, and writers. 

Our projects have been delivered in collaboration with many partners and venues such as concert halls, community spaces, major international museums and biennials, cinemas, art centres, roadsides, an IMAX, stone circles, pubs, under bridges, and once in an underground fuel storage tank. 

Partner institutions have included Tramway (Glasgow), Dundee Contemporary Arts (Dundee), The Arches (Glasgow), The Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), MoMA PS1 (New York), Performance Space New York, CCA (Glasgow), Sage Gateshead, Institute of Contemporary Arts (London), British Film Institute, Never Come Ashore, Art Angel (Dundee) and PAN.

Events we’ve programmed in the past include the festivals INSTAL, Kill Your Timid Notion and Music Lover’s Field Companion, and the Shadowed Spaces and Resonant Spaces tours. We’ve worked on long term community projects with Ultra-redSWARM (Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement), Arbert Santana Ballroom Freedom and Free School and presented a week long programme of events as part of the 2012 Whitney Biennial entitled A Survey is a Process of Listening. More about these and other events in our Archive.

 

US
 

We are a not-for-profit Community Interest Company, supported by Creative Scotland.

The current team (four people on a permanent basis, 3.1 FTE) at Arika is

Bryony McIntyre

Barry Esson 

Emma Macleod

Cloudberry McLean

Joanna Helfer (Maternity Cover)

Folk who have spent time working on Arika projects include (but are not limited to): Alaya Ang, Nosheen Khwaja, Saerlaith Robyn O'Dwyer, Alex Fleming, Agnieszka Habraschka, Neil Davidson, Emilia Muller-Ginorio, Alex McNutt, Alex Woodward, Alice Black, Andrew Houston, Anna Pearce, Ash Reid, Avalon Hernandez, Ben Kamps, Tourmaline, Chris Dennis, Chris Nelms, Dan Adams, Darri Donnelly, Emily Roff, Erin McElhinney, Glen Thomson, James Hindle, Jana Robert, Jason Brogan, Jim Hutcheson, Jo Shaw, Jon Clarke, Jonathan Anderson, Kamal Ackerie, Kenny Macleod, Laura Cameron Lewis, Matt Lloyd, Mike Donnelly, Nick Miller, Ruari Cormack, Ruth Marsh, Lesley Young, Duncan McCormick, Jake Wrigley and Yihang Hu.

 

Arika is a Japanese word, which a friend of ours [1] thought could give a name to our activities.  We have heard many translations of it - ‘a secret hiding place’, ‘the location of all things’.  But the one we like the best is – ‘a place where maybe you might find the thing you desire [2]


[1] The musician Keiji Haino.

[2] This translation was given to us by the musician Taku Unami.

 

  1. The encounters they stage and the episodes they construct bear the weight of a history they honour in trying to forge. Their work reminds us that art is irreducibly social and that its spirit, the range of its transcendence, is irreducibly earthly. 

    —Fred Moten
    Poet and writer

  2. Arika are at the forefront of experientially rich, aesthetically demanding, and philosophically provoking curatorial practice…

    —Jay Sanders
    Curator at Whitney Museum of American Art

  • Arika have a unique organisational practice that allows them to dynamically reflect and contribute to contemporary arts practice.

    —Ben Cook
    Director, LUX

  1. My brain and soul melted after all of the weekend's programme. And now thankfully it is starting to regenerate into something stronger...

    —Audience Member
    Episode 6: Make a Way Out of No Way

  2. Provocative, iconoclastic, sophisticated art, discussion and social interaction midwifed by a visionary team whose high professional standards added materially to its execution and the impact of its content.

    —Ed Baxter
    Resonance 104.4FM

  1. Arika’s conversations remain extremely necessary – so that, if nothing else, we may at least collectively chart our downfall, or perhaps even our destruction.
    —The Skinny
    On Episode 6, published October 2014
  2. Like the host of any good party, Arika is host to people, to concepts and ideas, to daily struggles and joys.

    —Park McArthur