Amahra Spence is a Birmingham-based artist, playwright, curator and creative producer. With over 12 years of experience in the creative industries; and a stint in corporate event management in between; she is passionate about sustainability, particularly for marginalised identities. In 2013, Amahra set up MAIA, a non-profit exploring how artists live, work and contribute in society through artist-led interventions.
The group's most recent project is an artist-led hotel, project space and community hub, that will serve as a training and development ground for artists and young people.In collaboration with Tobi Kyeremateng of BAMWorks, a nationwide resource-sharing network for BAME producers, MAIA recently hosted a meet-up at Impact Hub Birmingham for Creative Producers of Colour; to learn, exchange ideas and piece together solutions with a regional focus.
Being an artist and thriving anywhere, whether that's Birmingham, London or LA is tough, but in recent conversations with an actor friend of mine, we examined the theatre landscape and saw how particularly difficult it is to remain in Birmingham. We lack a core pipeline of ongoing work and as such have to tour frequently in order to get paid. If we can get the work. In 2015, I was working on a show in London. With sky high accommodation prices in the capital and an uncertainty on when I was actually going to be paid, I couldn't afford a hotel and I was a little sceptical of some the rooms on airbnb which were in my price range. Add in to this I was 3 months pregnant at the time and the only viable option was slumming it out on my friend’s (very firm) couch. While grateful for the roof over my head, it wasn’t exactly ideal. But irregular pay and unaffordable or unsuitable accommodation and workspace isn’t new. When budgets get tighter and expectations become even more unreasonable, sometimes it costs us to work. This is what it’s like for many of us living and working as artists.