What we stand for

The vision of ArtWorks Alliance is simple: better participatory arts work. Our values embrace collective support through collaborative action. And our objectives are to:

  • Build a strategic, partnership network with a distributed leadership model that encourages decisive, collective action
  • Enable partners in the network to come together to create and run strategic activities
  • Enable partners and others to share ideas and deep thinking, and to influence the arts and non-arts sectors


How we work

We're a network, not an organisation. We get together four times a year at partner hosted Forums  and virtually in between  to discuss and action what needs doing to make a difference in participatory arts. ArtWorks Alliance work doesn't get in the way of the day job: it IS the day job. Being a partner helps you be better connected, not busier. As one of our newest partners said:

'Opportunities to meet, talk, share, learn and have your ideas validated by people who know what you're talking about is rare. So we're in.'


Where we have come from

ArtWorks Alliance follows on from a seven-year intervention by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF) into the state of training and professional development of artists working in participatory settings.

In 2008 and 2009, the Foundation consulted with artists, training providers and employers, on the nature of participatory practice; key skills required; gaps in training and development provision; and potential interventions. Concerned about the lack of widely accessible and relevant high quality education, training and development opportunities for artists working in participatory settings, PHF set up ArtWorks: Developing Practice in Participatory Settings.


ArtWorks: Developing Practice in Participatory Settings ran from 2011 - 2015 as a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Special Initiative with funding and support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Creative, Culture & Education (supported by Arts Council England) and the Cultural Leadership Programme.

The 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 valued.


ArtWorks supported an online community of practice, organised events, commissioned publications and worked with key stakeholders to advocate for arts in participatory settings and appropriate support for artists. A key element of the programme was the work of pathfinders which were selected through an open bidding process to undertake action research between 2011 and 2014.

One pathfinder, Artworks Navigator (a-n The Artists Information Company, Artquest, engage, National Association of Writers in Education, People Dancing, Sound Sense), subsequently developed a proposal to take the key activities of ArtWorks forward in the form of ArtWorks Alliance – building on the legacy of a huge knowledge-bank of learning, the results of all ArtWorks activity over the years.

ArtWorks Alliance is currently funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation and partner contributions.