I caught up with Agnish Ray to talk about moving from London to Madrid, and setting up a new business.
What let you to starting your own arts and culture consultancy in Madrid?
Madrid is home to a vibrant arts and culture scene. The city is slowly but surely recovering from the severe blow dealt to Spain by the financial and economic crisis, which means it’s a dynamic place for start-ups and freelancers launching interesting new projects. I saw a lot of potential for a new initiative like this, which will help arts organisations improve their international visibility, and also provide international organisations with a gateway to Spanish audiences.
I’ve lived in Spain before, and I speak the language, so Madrid felt like the right place for a new adventure. Ever since the result of the UK’s 2016 referendum, like so many others, I’ve been anxious about what what life might look like post-Brexit. Who knows if we’ll still have the same freedom we have now, to move to and set up work in another EU country? It felt like it was now or never.
Why did you choose Madrid over Barcelona, or other cities in Spain?
Barcelona is an elegant, energetic urban hub, and I also adore Andalucian cities like Seville, Granada, and Málaga. But it was the Spanish capital that I was drawn to for this move. Despite being the capital city, Madrid maintains the warm, welcoming cosiness of a small town, while at the same time offering everything you’d expect of a large European metropolis. Madrid is also one of the more culturally and ethnically diverse cities of Spain, which to me is extremely important.
Do you have a sense of the type of clients that you’re looking to work with?
My clients include literature festivals, art and design fairs, museums, galleries, cultural centres, theatres, dance companies, philanthropic foundations, and more.
What are some of the barriers faced by businesses and organisations in Spain when they want to engage with international audiences?
It can be challenging to increase visibility abroad without first-hand experience of engaging international audiences and working with the channels that reach them. This is slowly changing, as more international consultants move to Spain, bringing insights and expertise from abroad, to complement national activity.
A lack of native English speakers can also be a challenge, particularly when it comes to work that’s heavily reliant on flawless written and spoken communication. From an arts and culture perspective, a key challenge for international engagement is being able to offer something that other European countries’ arts scenes aren’t offering.
What are some of the advantages held by businesses and organisations in Spain when they want to engage with international audiences?
Private philanthropy for the arts is strong in Spain, which has helped sustain the country’s arts offer in the face of severe government cuts. For example, several banks and multinational corporations - such as Santander, BBVA, Telefónica, and MAPFRE - have robust philanthropic arms that specialise in collecting, curating, and presenting art.
Spanish is one of the most important languages in the world, with over 437 million native speakers. So, as the Spanish-speaking centre of Europe, Spain’s cultural and intellectual offer has potential to have real global cut-through. With a diverse cultural offer that goes beyond the clichés of flamenco, tapas and bullfighting that international audiences associate with Spain, Madrid is a fine match for other leading cultural hubs like London, Paris, Berlin and New York.
How do you go about building a business network in a new city?
Lots of research beforehand into what sorts of organisations might need your help, who the key contacts for you are at that organisation - and then lots of friendly emails! Plus, of course, a really clear sense of what exactly your offer is and why it’s unique and valuable.
It’s really important to start building your network before you actually move somewhere. Contact as many of your potential targets as possible to say hello and start building a friendly but professional relationship. This will help you suss out opportunities and appetite in advance, and will mean that you arrive with something of a base to start with. Once you’re there, it’s about taking as many people for as many coffees as possible!
A strong business network doesn’t necessarily consist of people who will give you work immediately. Instead, it’s all those people who are impressed with the work you do and will talk about you positively to other people that they know and work with.
What are your plans in terms of your social life?
I’m fortunate enough to have a few very close friends in Madrid. One should never stop making new friends though, so I’m certainly not turning down any fiestas.
What are some of the goals that you’re hoping to achieve in 2018?
To establish a name as a cultural gateway between Spain and the UK, as well as other countries such as India. To build up a strong portfolio of writing, about arts, culture and travel, from Spain. To continue perfecting my tortilla de patatas. I’d also like to meet a Spanish person who can get my name right the first time.
We want to hear your opinion
The men of Edgar Murillo
I caught up with artist Edgar Murillo to admire the men that have been inspiring his work.
When did you discover and begin to explore your passion for art and illustration?
I discovered it from birth. I was born deaf and it was difficult for me to communicate with my family, so I used papers and pencils to draw to be able to communicate something. I draw every day, and I’m very happy.
How would you describe your style of illustration?
Honestly, I don’t know what my style is – I draw different types of drawings and I keep making more drawings with new styles. The important thing is that people like it a lot.
Who are some of your heroes or artistic inspirations?
SilverJow, Kimjunggius, and Nesskain – you must follow him!
Are the men you draw hyper-masculine?
Yes – I’m a pogonophile – I love furry!
The inspiration comes from my imagination, friends, movies, and social networks. The majority of men that I draw are from Barcelona, others from America.
Do you accept commissions?
Not yet. I’m focused on making movies, and several other projects.
What do you expect people to feel when they look at your work?
Hypnotised! Some people have told me that they find my drawings arousing.
“I was walking straight into a trap…”
“I was now earning £12 per day…”
“I wasn’t about to crawl back into the closet…”
“I felt like I had turned a corner…”
How do you masturbate?
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