What we stand for

The mission of ArtWorks Alliance is simple: better participatory arts encompassing all art forms, ways of working, settings and purposes

How we work

We’re a network, not an organisation. We get together at (virtual) Forums 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 member helps you be better connected, not busier. As one of our longer standing members 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.’

Members are joining all the time. Find all the details about how to contribute to and benefit from belonging on our Join in page.

Where we have come from

ArtWorks Alliance follows on from a seven-year intervention by Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF) into the state of training and professional development for 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, Creativity, Culture & Education (supported by Arts Council England) and the Cultural Leadership Programme.

The 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 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 was initiated in 2015 with funding from Paul Hamlyn Foundation and in 2019 became collectively self-funded through contributions from 40 partners and associates. In 2020, the network moved to an open membership model and grew substantially. Current members can be found here.

Featured Resources

All Resources

Case Studies

Evaluations & Reports




Toolkits & Guidance


Power Up

Explores the complexities and challenges of sharing power.

Author: Chrissie Tiller

Shared decision-making

Practical resource for involving local people in decision-making.

Author: Louise White