Interview Editor, Aimee Dickinson, talks to Amana Moore, founder of Durham University Art Society’s (DUAS) new arts blog Loop. The blog aims to showcase the creative community of the North East and to provide a bridge between the student art scene and the wider Durham arts community.
Created in October 2020, Amana explains that Loop was originally started in response to the Covid-19 pandemic: “we were coming back to Durham knowing that a lot of the projects we wanted to run as an arts society would be restricted, so we wanted to have something that would bring together the different creative threads of the artistic community in Durham in an accessible way”. However, Loop has grown beyond an effort to combat the difficulties of the pandemic, providing, as Amana says, an important “platform to share not only information, but the stories of students and locals involved in the arts.” The blog is divided into two editions per month, a newsletter detailing arts events within the University and more widely, and an interview with a local creative. Amana explains the most significant aim of the blog is to “celebrate the connections between these two groups in the Durham artistic community that are often viewed as separate, especially at a time when people feel quite disconnected.”
As Amana has been researching for the blog, she says she has become increasingly informed about “Durham’s thriving arts scene, where there are so many local artists”. This to her highlighted the importance of creating a space like the blog to “help people find out about the local art community, because once they know about it, they can support it and it can grow”. In addition, Amana explains that Durham not having an arts school means that “there is no dedicated space for art to take place within the University”, so Loop hopes to provide a “space for discussion and community”.
Amana explains her creative inspiration for the name Loop links to the blog’s goal of “keeping people in the loop” of arts events and activities in Durham. As she says, “with everything being online, even though you have so much information, it can be so difficult to keep up with things.” The name also reflects the connection the blog hopes to reinforce within the Durham arts community between the University and local artists. Amana passionately believes in the importance of students recognising and working with local art projects. As she explains, “students tend to only think about Durham in terms of our temporary relationship with the city”, detailing that Loop highlights not just student but local art activity as part of its aim to “actively invest longterm in the art community in Durham”.
An integral part of Loop’s content is its interviews with local creatives. Amana discusses some of her interviewees such as Ellie Mathews, explaining her project “street gallery” in which “local artists put art in their windows to form an exhibition down a street”. Amana states that making personal connections with local artists has proved a great way for DUAS “get through to people who they wouldn’t normally reach”, and to “nurture a relationship between the University and the local community”.
Amana also discusses some of the art projects which DUAS is running for students to get involved in during this term such as “DU Thursday sessions”, which are “designed to be accessible to all, run over Zoom with objects people have readily available in their houses”. DUAS has also been “working with the University in promoting the student art prize” and “in supporting the work the University are doing to positively utilise their large art collection, such as through the Student Art Prize Art School” which Amana recommends checking out via the collection website. Going forward, she hopes that Loop will be able to feature “more audio-visual content, maybe even a podcast”.
Finally, when asked what Durham students can be doing to support the arts, Amana offers this advice: “Invest where you are. Look into what’s going on in your local area and support it. If we spend our time consuming and supporting arts projects, this will translate into how much is invested in the industry on a larger scale.” She also hopes for a change in mindsets around consuming the arts, explaining, “we’re used to paying for Netflix, so we should accept the fact that art isn’t free. It takes time and energy and love for people to create. During the pandemic, we’re starting to realise how important the arts are, so it’s important we continue to protect them”.
To check out Loop, visit https://duartsoc.blogspot.com/ and follow @duartsoc on Instagram
lllustration by Adeline Zhao