How do you get those amazing creative ideas that exist in your head out into the world? You need time to make your work. You need to get this work into the right form – to show in a gallery or publish. And you need to find an audience for your creative output. Only some of the many talented people in our city have the resources to make all of this happen, which means that we only ever get to see some of the creative potential of our amazing city. However, one organisation in Bristol is committed to supporting artists who would not normally be able get their work out in front of an audience.
Arkbound is a Bristol publisher with social enterprise at its heart. Their aims include the promotion of community development, social inclusion, sustainability and artistic talent. Founded in early 2015, Arkbound enables people to publish and promote books, as well as become Regional Editors of their own magazines.
Arkbound bridges the gap between contemporary and ‘vanity’ publishers by offering fully sponsored publication to disadvantaged authors, or alternatively, a range of services and discounted packages to those who can afford to self-publish. They are affiliated with a number of organisations that share their vision of a more inclusive, democratically vibrant and sustainable society and donate 15% of profits directly to charitable initiatives.
Arkbound publishes books and magazines. Boundless magazine, first published in Bristol in October 2015, features a range of pieces from different contributors, including community groups, talented artists and writers. The focus of the magazine is on sustainable living and social inclusion – supporting both community development and artistic talent.
Publishing books is Arkbound’s main area of business. They provide a comprehensive range of publishing services and they also sponsor authors from disadvantaged backgrounds (so they can get their work published and promoted freely). They can help talented authors who do not have a fine-tuned manuscript by linking them up with experienced mentors.
Arkbound is a creative social enterprise that is willing to try out new ideas and concepts. In 2015 they launched the first Annual Arkbound Competition, which had three categories open to writers, artists and journalists. The 2016 Competition has now opened for entries (closing date 5th September 2016). Information about the competition and how to enter can be found at: http://arkbound.com/competitions/.
Arkbound have also created a book award with a clear focus on disadvantaged authors. The Zooker Award aims to recognise and award an outstanding piece of work, inspiring others to explore their creative potential. Every book published through Arkbound (and indeed any other publisher) is eligible to enter the Zooker Award. Authors may be from a poor background, unemployed, disabled, or spent time in prison. They may have faced insurmountable obstacles in getting published that few others have encountered. ‘Disadvantaged’, then, can be quite broad – but generally it should encompass a state of extreme hardship, which an author may be struggling to overcome or has already done so. The second aim of the Zooker Award is to recognise works of wider social value. A book may be entirely fictional, but it can still encourage us to dwell on social and environmental issues of present relevance. Arkbound believe that if an author inspires us to think about such issues, in a way that could lead to positive changes of mind and behaviour, then clearly they should be rewarded.
Arkbound also supports visual artists with their Outside In initiative, the goal of which is to create a fairer art world that rejects traditional values and institutional judgements about whose work can and should be displayed. Outside In provides opportunities for artists who see themselves as facing a barrier to the art world for reasons including health, disability, social circumstance or isolation.
There are many clichés about the ‘struggling artist’ but the reality is that many creative people are struggling so much that making work is not even an option. In their own words, Arkbound say that, for them “it’s not just about the profit line: we are much more interested in developing creative talent and bridging the divides in the publishing world”. If you would like to find out more about the work of Arkbound, visit their website: http://arkbound.com/