ArtWorks: Developing Practice in Participatory Settings was a workforce development initiative that sought to meet the needs of artists at different stages in their careers – from the aspiring young artist embarking on training, to experienced practitioners who wished to continue to develop their skills. The initiative stemmed 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 ArtWorks 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 and ran from 2011 to 2015 encompassing an ambitious UK wide programme of work. More than 100 partners who shared a passion and commitment to the value of participatory arts practice worked collectively through five pathfinder partnerships across different settings and parts of the UK, built a community of practice on and offline, organised more than 70 events, commissioned 83 publications and supported artiusts across artforms and career stages.
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 included 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. Importantly, this included the establishment of ArtWorks Alliance whose mission is to foster cross-sector collaboration for the strategic development of the participatory arts in the UK. PHF transferred all ArtWorks assets to ArtWorks Alliance and the Knowledge Bank on their website now provides an accessible and annotated route into the wealth of research generated through ArtWorks.
The learning from ArtWorks now informs PHF grant making particularly in Arts Access and Participation and Arts-Based Learning. We encourage applicants to consider the inclusion of paid CPD opportunities for artists in projects where artists are delivering activity. We encourage applicants to consider how conditions for quality can be embedded in project planning, delivery and evaluation. We have created a short guide for applicants to some key resources.
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.