ArtWorks: Developing Practice in Participatory Settings is a workforce development scheme that seeks to meet the needs of artists at different stages in their careers – from the aspiring young artist embarking on training, to experienced practitioners who wish to progress their output. It is seeking to build on good practice to enhance the existing development infrastructure.

The scheme stems from a belief that artists who are given access to training and supported to develop their own practice will provide higher quality arts-led experiences. The overall aim of the ArtWorks initiative was to support the initial education, training and continuing professional development of artists working in participatory settings in order to enhance the quality of people’s engagement in arts-led activity and the arts, and create a more professional and confident sector whose work is validated, valued and seen as important.

The programme had its genesis in an extensive period of research which began in 2008. It was established as a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Special Initiative to run from 2011 to 2015 and encompassed a number of strands. ArtWorks funded five pathfinder partnerships working across different settings and parts of the UK, built a community of practice on and offline, organised events, commissioned research and publications.

In March 2015 ArtWorks launched a series of publications that drew on evidence gathered through the pathfinder projects, research commissioned by the programme and evaluation of the programme’s activities.

These include a call to action to people and organisations throughout the UK arts sector to work together to continue building infrastructure to support artists working in participatory settings. ArtWorks: A call to action sets out actions we believe must be taken if we are to see the changes our sector needs.

From April 2015, ArtWorks entered a new phase. The Paul Hamlyn Foundation trustees and Arts Programme Committee agreed a number of ArtWorks legacy grants to continue aspects of the programme and pass on leadership to the sector to take forward the work the initiative began.

ArtWorks brings together a growing group of organisations and individuals committed the developing practice in participatory settings – to create a stronger voice for the practice.

ArtWorks: Developing Practice in Participatory Settings began in 2011 as a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Special Initiative with funding and support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Creativity, Culture & Education (supported by Arts Council England) and the Cultural Leadership Programme.