• 8 Apr 2014

ArtWorks symposium held at Tate Britain

This year’s ArtWorks symposium, ‘Reprising the Conversation’, was held at Tate Britain on 1 April and attended by over 70 delegates. It built on the learning from last year’s ‘Changing the Conversation’ conference, which brought together artists, arts organisations and Higher and Further Education providers to open a debate around the current state of the arts in education.

A principal focus of the symposium was on ‘Creating Change within the Curriculum’, with a panel made up of representatives from the University of Hull, arts organisation B Arts and its partner Staffordshire University, and artist Anna Lopez debating the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches to system reform. These different perspectives prompted a lively discussion on how to inspire the next generation of artists in a challenging economic environment and provided insight on how crucial the role of Higher and Further Education can be in achieving this. Another highlight of the event was the ‘Creating the Change in Partnerships’ discussion, which explored how to further develop collaborative working in order to maximise opportunities for young people and benefit both education providers and the arts.

Seven research and development projects, completed last year and funded by small grants of £3500, shared their findings with attendees. Project leaders presented the objectives of the projects, their outcomes, and looked at how successful they had been in finding new ways of working and new models of working together cross-sector. It is hoped that the presentations (which can accessed via the link below) will help facilitate further sharing of good practice beyond the symposium.

One message particularly stood out at the symposium: the idea that artists and education providers, and others involved in these sectors, can ‘change the system’ together and have a powerful effect on policy, practice and the cultural landscape by working collaboratively towards shared goals. A consistent theme in the debates was that establishing a system where artists, education bodies and employers work together will give participatory art a voice.

A full evaluation of the development projects was carried out by DHA and this will be published on the ArtWorks website.

ArtWorks: Developing Practice in Participatory Settings works to improve participatory arts practice by providing artists with training and development at all stages of their careers. By supporting artists’ professional development, it aims to enrich the experience of people who take part in participatory art and build the capacity of the sector, reflecting a wider Foundation goal to increase engagement with the arts.

After a few years of operation through five pathfinder partnerships, the project is currently building towards a new phase in which it will take what has been learnt to date and advocate for changes across the cultural sector in order to see improvements to the way the ‘participatory arts’ operate. A new website will be launched with details of this activity and how artists, employers and commissioners, training providers, funders and policy makers, as well as participants themselves, can get involved.