How we work

The majority of our work is carried out in action groups – where we come together to develop and improve specific issues in participatory arts that cannot be tackled by any of us working on our own.

Partners are always keen to support proposals for new high quality, activity that develop participatory arts and that:

  • Tackle issues that clearly need to be addressed, and can best be addressed at third-tier level
  • Have a clear rationale and an achievable plan
  • Involve collaborative work and a commitment to open sharing
  • Are either self-funding or have an achievable plan for securing additional funds.


Action groups in action

Action groups may be ongoing, or task-and-finish. Here are some examples listed below. 


Action Group: Quality

Led by Rhian Hutchings, ArtWorks Cymru and Chrissie Ruckley, ArtWorks Scotland, this group is exploring the quality debate and looking at the tools and resources that have been developed. Quality frameworks have now been published in Scotland and Wales, and you can find them in our Knowledge Bank. The action group is now looking at how these resources are rolled out and used by the sector, opening a dialogue with funders about quality appraisal, and how they intersect with other frameworks already in use. Check out the Quality in practice page for more information. 


Action Group: Sharing services

Shared partnership services are an added incentive for joining the Alliance. Some current ArtWorks Alliance partners, national art form membership bodies, already share services (such as disclosure, insurance etc) enabling them to offer more effective provision to their member networks, whilst also benefitting from economies of scale and shared capacity. Through ArtWorks Alliance, these organisations are now initiating a bigger conversation to explore new opportunities to share services across organisations and the arts industry, helped by an audit of partners currently in progress. If you offer services in this way and would like to be a part of this conversation, then ArtWorks Alliance would love to hear from you. Contact action group lead Russell Martin on


Action Group: Scaling up and growing the market

Many of our activities are aimed at supporting participatory artists to get better at what they do, and understanding better who they do it with and for. This work package recognised this could increase demand for artists working in participatory settings. Leads Kathryn Deane, AWA consultant director and Chris Stenton, People Dancing are asking their action group: how do we cope with increased demand? How do we generate more of it? If you have been involved in a project that has generated new employment or commissioning opportunties for participatory artists, we'd love to hear from you and learn from your experiences.

We'll be holding a 'by invitation' Study Day in London on 15 September 2017, so please get in touch with Kathryn if you would like to attend. 


Action Group: Research

Led by Caroline Mitchell, University of Sunderland, this action group is exploring the potential for an academic research strand in ArtWorks Alliance. It is looking particularly at issues of practitioner-led research; the nexus of practice and research; the importance of knowledge-sharing, dissemination and impact. Caroline is currently preparing an application for AHRC funding to develop a research network to explore 'The Work of Participation'.


Action Group: Events

Led by Kathryn Deane this action group is working on a range on activities, including:

  • supporting partners' events to add value to them
  • identifying and promoting key strategic participatory arts events