Two rat friends, Johanna Cosgrove and Sam Te Kani, discuss making art with neither funding nor care in the world.
Sam: So. We made a podcast.
Johanna: Yeah. Crazy.
Sam: Why do you think we chose to make a podcast? Is this our magnum opus?
Johanna: I think Rats in the Gutter is the perfect accompaniment to our multi layered multi tiered individual creative practices. 2023 is the year of the polymath. Spread it.
Sam: Our podcast is two shrill femmes working out their pathological malcontent under the tasteful stewardship and technical expertise of our maestro producer Tim Batt.
Sam: I’ve been part of a podcast before, but I wasn’t at liberty to talk the tangential nonsense talk we currently are, with our rats project.
Johanna: I think it also bears mentioning that this entire delusional escapade was achieved with zero funding whatsoever.
Sam: Truly. And how did we do that? There seems to be a lot of noise about funding scarcity at the moment.
Johanna: Sheer malevolent drive, screeds of charm and many favours called in. I guess we started talking about making a podcast exactly this time last year and henceforth applied for funding (spoiler: denied) but the application process forced us to get our ducks in a row. Luckily, our producer Tim Batt came to the party after we wooed him (read: shrieked at him in a cafe for two hours) and he has been amazing at getting the logistical stuff together such as: recording, editing and basically everything important.
Sam: Yeah totally, but also it’s a podcast. We haven’t cured cancer. I mean, if dads can talk smack in their converted-recording-studios-cum-microbrewery-gottages, we can certainly do the same. But like, not shit.
Johanna: So what would you say is the secret to sustaining a creative practice in this decaying metropolis? Because my answer would be hunger and resilience. For me, I spent lockdown getting really clear on what I wanted to make and how I wanted to make it.
Sam: Should we talk about us for a minute? Here’s a hard-hitting query. Dogs or cats?
Johanna: Dogs. I’m allergic to cats both physically and spiritually. What about you?
Sam: Cats. Dogs are smelly and codependent, which is a niche already filled in my life by various boys.
Johanna: What about your ideal partner? Describe them to me.
Sam: Into me, obviously. I don’t consciously have a type but my pattern is broken and/or emotionally unavailable white men. What about you?
Johanna: Smart, funny, kind, driven, cheeky with one single earring and packing a purina dog roll. Sinbad the sailor but with an arts degree and rich parents. What’s your favouirite city in New Zealand?
Sam: Auckland, obviously. Is there another one?
Johanna: Yeah same lol. Obviously we missed out on ultimately redundant funding for this podcast, but has there ever been a project you did get funding for?
Sam: Twice. And they were both pretty crucial jettisoning types of moments for me, so I’m hugely grateful. Perhaps most memorably funding for my short story collection, via CNZ through my publisher DeadBird who got the moolah on my behalf. Thanks guys. What about you?
Johanna: Once. CNZ sent me to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with my first solo show and it was the most incredible experience both personally and professionally. RIP to Covid for subsequently shutting the world down.
Sam: I know the coffers are skint right now but honestly, if you wait around for the perfect funding opportunity you’re going to be waiting forever. There are no perfect conditions to “make”. If you’re gonna do something with your life, you’re gonna do it, if you want it enough. I can think of a handful of times that I had “funding”. But more often than not having funding means you’re tailoring your work to somebody else’s notions of worth or propriety. And that’s just not my fucking buzz.
Johanna: The funding landscape is a minefield – you probably won’t get any funding until you are “established” unless you’ve stumbled upon the pressure point of the zeitgeist. Specifically, in Auckland, this new arts budget is dire so you can’t rely on money from anyone girlies. Also, New Zealand doesn’t have the cultural infrastructure of Europe and the US to support and foster talent from an audience engagement perspective so you kinda have to stop caring what your mates will think and just go for it.
Work hard. Don’t be a dick. Foster your relationships like precious gems. That is several pieces of advice soz. But honestly, from a personal perspective: where art is concerned, more is more.
Rats in the Gutter is out now on Apple and Spotify.