Co-creation environments that manage fear and cultivate resilience

Co-creation environments that manage fear and cultivate resilience

Kiz Crosbie from member Mortal Fools shares their development journey to a tangible and clearly articulated co-creation practice that combines the creative process (practical activities used to produce artistic content) and the relational process (the environments...
Bath Arts Workshop: Counterculture in the 1970s

Bath Arts Workshop: Counterculture in the 1970s

‘They thought art could change the world. Thousands joined in and things were never the same again.’ From this new publication about participatory arts fifty years ago reviewed here by Adrian Sinclair.   This was a time that had the smell of a rugged kind of...
Climate artivism

Climate artivism

Culture declares emergency… we interviewed a young climate activist who has found the power of participation in creative activity as part of Extinction Rebellion protests.   AWA: What creative protesting have you taken part in? I have been involved with art...
Now more than ever

Now more than ever

AWA member Roxane Permar from the University of the Highlands and Islands explores why we need MA courses for participatory artists now more than ever and proposes an archipelagic perspective for thinking about social art practice and higher education.   We need...
Let’s focus on the future

Let’s focus on the future

Ben Vleminckx, Chief Executive of member Evolve Music, shares how they’re working with emerging and established music leaders on workforce development and invites you to contribute to the conversation about best practice.   As a sector we rely heavily on our...
Historical parallels and contemporary considerations

Historical parallels and contemporary considerations

Amy Twigger Holroyd and Emma Shercliff, coordinators of the Stitching Together network, discuss the long history of participatory textile making projects and outline some of the benefits and challenges encountered when making textiles with others today.   The...
Let’s change our minds about change

Let’s change our minds about change

JoJo Spinks from Interwoven Productions CIC explores the Capability Approach for measuring quality of life from participatory arts work as a push back against prescribed outcomes such as improved health, wellbeing and environment.   I’ve been thinking a lot about...
When nature meets arts: Creating resilience in the outdoors

When nature meets arts: Creating resilience in the outdoors

Genevieve Rudd reflects on Covid context life and work as a Community Artist and exploring the benefits of nature on wellbeing and creativity through the Yarmouth Springs Eternal project.   I’ve stared out at my back garden from my desk in Gorleston-on-sea almost...
Diversity is what diversity does

Diversity is what diversity does

‘How diverse are we really?’ is a research project commissioned through the CPP National Peer Learning and Communications programme with funding from Arts Council England. Dawn Cameron looks out of her lockdown window at the start of her fieldwork and describes...
Trinity Laban L&P Covid-19 Community Response

Trinity Laban L&P Covid-19 Community Response

Flora Faith-Kelly, Project Coordinator for Trinity Laban’s Learning and Participation’s Community and Professional Development (Music) Team, gives an update on delivery in the coronavirus context. Trinity Laban’s Learning and Participation team are responsible...
Adapting around Covid

Adapting around Covid

Gem Smith from Take a Part shares something positive and creative to focus on…   At the start of 2020 I was really excited: Take A Part had collaborated with our core partner Efford High View School to support them in applying for their own Arts Council...
Deep impact

Deep impact

From a disaster movie, past the New Year’s Honours list and on to a care home. Some reflections on the profile, purpose and impact of participatory artists and arts organisations from the network’s Secretariat.   I’m not usually a great fan of disaster movies,...
Networking: then and now

Networking: then and now

With the arts ecology so dependent on freelancers and a significant growth this year of networks for independents, we asked June Gamble to share her experiences of working collaboratively as a network. Hear her journey from card file systems ‘back in the day’ to...
The power of congruent networking

The power of congruent networking

Dr Sue Kay reflects on the impact of cultural networks from research and personal resonances. She explores how their value lies not only in what they do, but also in how they do it – and how for the Alliance, process can be congruent with the principles and practices...
Shall we create then?

Shall we create then?

Adrian Sinclair, from the AWA Advocacy Action Group, takes up the What next? question following last month’s blog from Gerri Moriarty of ArtsChain, to explore how we can organise and advocate for participatory arts.   In her blog last month Gerri Moriarty talked...
Building the future for and through participatory arts

Building the future for and through participatory arts

AWA member Gerri Moriarty sets out the research ArtsChain carried out over the summer, in order to better understand the current needs of the participatory arts sector, and the three proposals made to Arts Council England with their initial reflections. As part of its...
Being human – the art of relevance

Being human – the art of relevance

Kim Wide describes how Take a Part responded to the rapid changes that happened when Covid-19 hit and what they did to support local communities, already living precarious and stressful lives.   It is really simple to find narratives that back up your approach,...
Guidance on the guidance

Guidance on the guidance

We’ve been including all sorts of information and resources around Covid-19 in our monthly newsletters and will now be posting updates here to support you and your work in participatory arts. We start with a reminder ‘guidance about the guidance’...
The participation revolution and pandemic resilience

The participation revolution and pandemic resilience

JoJo Spinks from member Interwoven Productions CIC explores what it means to be truly ‘place-based’ and how participatory practice with open, two-way communications supports ongoing relationships, even in the climate of pandemic.   We didn’t set out to create a...
Participatory arts in the new paradigm

Participatory arts in the new paradigm

Simon Sharkey from partner The Necessary Space has been having some fascinating conversations with fellow practitioners from across the world. In response, he wrote an essay.   Piloting through Chaos The Covid-19 lexicon reads like a phrase book for a...
Learning to listen

Learning to listen

Fiona Doring from AWA Partner Impact Arts introduces the Sketchy Youths and other initiatives supporting them to be a listening organisation. With the realisation that I am now firmly in the middle aged bracket; that similarly, my Board do not share an age range with...
Collective thinking turns into critical writing

Collective thinking turns into critical writing

Catherine Cartwright reviews Social Works?: Open edited by the Models of Validation Team, a partnership between Axisweb and Manchester Metropolitan University, Rebecca Senior, Mark Smith and Amanda Ravetz.   ‘Now is the time to instigate our collective...
Multiplying Leadership in Creative Communities

Multiplying Leadership in Creative Communities

Mark Robinson blogs about his leadership report for ArtWorks Alliance Partner Creative People and Places.   As trailed at the back end of last year in an Arts Professional article, Creative People and Places have just published Multiplying Leadership in Creative...
Why do research?

Why do research?

I am a visual artist and this autumn I became a PhD student.  In this blog I share my initial experiences and gently encourage you to consider whether formal Research (with a big ‘R’) could take a bigger part in your life and practice. I’ll be covering the...
Were we wrong to talk about outcomes?

Were we wrong to talk about outcomes?

Were we wrong to talk about outcomes? ESS loves outcomes and we are not giving them up without a fight. But there are some problems with the way we use the word. And that matters because it’s getting in the way of public service improvement. We’ve got the verb wrong...
Participative arts and social value

Participative arts and social value

Dr Rob Watson shares research into social value and the opportunities presented by the 2012 Social Value Act, requiring the public sector to ensure the money it spends on services creates the greatest economic, social and environmental value for local communities....
Change from within, from many local actions

Change from within, from many local actions

In May this year, I read an announcement to staff from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), that it had signed the new ‘Civic University Agreement’, reaffirming its commitment to Preston and its local communities. A commitment to a holistic approach to...
Some thoughts after Wild Conference

Some thoughts after Wild Conference

Last week I spent two days at Wild Conference, the latest try at an Arts Council England-commissioned national arts conference, following events like State of the Arts and No Boundaries. Delivered – brilliantly – by Slung Low, led by Alan Lane, this had a very...
Leadership: me, you or us?

Leadership: me, you or us?

Race, contest, competition… rivals, front runner, loser… knocked out, eliminated…the final battle… and the knives are out…These are the leadership words we’ve been hearing and reading of late.   Time to remember there’s a bigger, broader and brighter picture...
Participatory arts in the new paradigm

From Dresden with Love

‘The Necessary Space’ is the latest organisation to join ArtWorks Alliance. Here Director Simon Sharkey, who previously worked for partner National Theatre of Scotland, writes about why theatre has never been so urgent and important, calling on us to act on Martin...
Breathing in…the oxygen of participatory arts

Breathing in…the oxygen of participatory arts

Three partners from the ArtWorks Alliance Admin Group (previously known as the Leadership Group, but successful distributed leadership led to the name change…) share their experiences of collective and collaborative working for better participatory arts. If you’re...
Holding the Space

Holding the Space

Adrian Sinclair from partner Heads Together Productions looks at the ‘why, what, how and who for’ of training pathways for those wanting to pursue a career as participatory artists and reflects on the power of coaching in the UNION programme. Artworks has always...
How participation won, and why it matters

How participation won, and why it matters

Kathryn Deane, visiting Professor at York St John University in the International Centre for Community Music, reviews François Matarasso’s A Restless Art. It is, it seems to me, virtually impossible to be a practitioner in the field of participatory art (more on...
A question of capacity

A question of capacity

John Whall from Derby QUAD is the ArtWorks Alliance digital participation champion. Here he explores issues around mental capacity and creative work by participants in an edited version of a blog fromDigitalpARTicipationis…No-one wants to participate in participation...
A more collaborative creative economy

A more collaborative creative economy

Catherine Rogers, from Alliance partner Creative Leicestershire, continues her blog about a recent British Council funded partnership development visit to Brazil. Part Three… During my ten days in Santos and São Paulo, I met so many people who could put ‘innovation’...
Crisis – Place & People

Crisis – Place & People

Catherine Rogers, Alliance partner Creative Leicestershire Manager and also Junction Arts Chair and Advantage Creative Associate, writes about her first day on a recent British Council funded partnership development visit to Brazil. Junction Arts and Advantage...
Becoming trauma informed is a journey

Becoming trauma informed is a journey

Our ‘blog swap’ arrangement with the US Bartol Foundation starts with their interview with the artist Mindy A. Early about trauma informed practice. The Bartol Foundation is piloting a new series of trauma-informed training workshops for teaching (participatory)...
Artist as instigator…it’s time to speak out

Artist as instigator…it’s time to speak out

Rhian Hutchings, Partnership Manager at ArtWorks Cymru, shares key provocations and practices from the Fourth International Teaching Artist Conference (ITAC4) held recently in New York City. ITAC4 brought together teaching artists/participatory artists and arts...
Turning up the heat

Turning up the heat

Catherine Rogers from ArtWorks Alliance partner Creative Leicestershire, and a member of the Alliance’s leadership group, reflects on two hot days for weather and ideas. I recently attended Nesta’s FutureFest in London’s Tobacco Dock, held over two sweltering days in...
In your opinion, what is the ideal complexion for a cow?

In your opinion, what is the ideal complexion for a cow?

Prompted by re-reading Padgett Powell’s ‘The Interrogative Mood’ and attending a recent European Academy of Participation course, Adrian Sinclair, Chapel FM Centre Director for Heads Together Productions, takes a questioning approach to what he’s doing in...
Bright and shiny, or sustained engagement?

Bright and shiny, or sustained engagement?

Briar Monro, Arts Practice Director, Community and Youth at Creative New Zealand reflects on participatory arts in Aotearoa/New Zealand and the UK – and looks ahead to a slow spiral of development that honours the process and shared intentions of the work itself. I’m...
Let’s hear it for cultural democracy…

Let’s hear it for cultural democracy…

Adrian Sinclair from ArtWorks Alliance partner Heads Together Productions shares some thoughts from the Cultural Democracy: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow symposium held on 5 April 2018. I was very much looking forward to attending this symposium at Manchester...
If culture is digital, what’s digital participation?

If culture is digital, what’s digital participation?

Derby QUAD’s John Whall, our ArtWorks Alliance digital participation activity group champion, takes a look at what the DCMS Culture is Digital and Nesta Digital Culture 2017 reports have to offer (or not…) for participatory arts. The recent Culture is Digital report...
Prepositions and propositions…

Prepositions and propositions…

Prepositions may be small words, but they tell big stories… Alliance secretariat Mary Schwarz reflects on the recent desire expressed by Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England, for greater ‘access to what the arts have to offer’ alongside Charles...
Owning the L word…

Owning the L word…

Extend cultural leadership programme evaluator Mary Schwarz shares some reflections on why people working in education and learning roles make such great leaders…and how leadership can be practised in all sorts of ways and by all sorts of people – not just ‘the...
‘Solopreneurship’, sustainability and system change

‘Solopreneurship’, sustainability and system change

Following her work as Paul Hamlyn Foundation ArtWorks initiative Project Director and Advisor (2010-17), Susanne Burns was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to visit the USA and Australia, exploring solutions to support artists working in participatory settings. She...
Let’s hear it for cultural democracy…

Dandelions and dissent

Newsletter subscriber Stephen Pritchard reviews Culture, Democracy and the Right to Make Art: The British Community Arts Movement edited by Alison Jeffers and Gerri Moriarty. Community arts has always been ignored and derided by the art establishment. It was always a...
Confidently selling our value

Confidently selling our value

In her last blog as Alliance Consultant Director, Kathryn Deane tackles market issues… I’m in hot water again. This time for using the term ‘market’ to describe the relationship between a participatory artist and a hirer of their services. The argument appears...
Then and now, beauty and use…

Then and now, beauty and use…

Participatory arts: what’s it for? Prompted by the recent death of community play pioneer Ann Jellicoe, Kathryn Deane revisits practice purposes…  Ann Jellicoe has just died. Hands up those to whom that means anything? She was, on the one hand, a corner stone of...
Feel the width

Feel the width

We’ve spent a lot of time over the past decade in ArtWorks and ArtWorks Alliance on the quality of our participatory arts. It’s time we looked at how much of it we do, says Kathryn Deane. If, as we believe, participatory arts is an important part of an artist’s...
Doing participatory arts better

Doing participatory arts better

Alliance Communications Manager Mary Schwarz explores what the participatory arts sector can learn from a book about individual altruism… My colleague Sue Kay and I were working recently for social enterprise The Arts Development Company (TADC) and Dorset Arts...
Meaningfully digital, properly participatory

Meaningfully digital, properly participatory

Kathryn Deane, ArtWorks Alliance Consultant Director, is not a techno-Luddite but does want to reclaim what’s participatory when we talk digital… I’m not a techno-Luddite (I was programming IBM computers 40 years ago*). But some things pass me by in my bid to...
Strategic means…

Strategic means…

What does ArtWorks Alliance as a strategic UK-wide network actually do? Kathryn Deane shares her take on what strategic means… and the strategic means by which we support more and better participatory arts. Strategic means never having to say you’ve fixed it. And...
Because we’re worth more

Because we’re worth more

Why is participatory arts better than the aerospace industry? Because it’s worth more – however you measure it. Kathryn Deane reflects on how the power of participatory arts to make change is describable in so many ways… You return four times the GVA of the...
Making connections, solving problems

Making connections, solving problems

The initial ArtWorks Paul Hamlyn Foundation special initiative finished with A Call to Action to work collectively to strengthen practice in participatory settings. This month ArtWorks Alliance Consultant Director Kathryn Deane has been out and about doing just...
What’s in it for me?

What’s in it for me?

ArtWorks Alliance members have mantras: ‘We only do what only we can do.’ ‘It’s not what we take, it’s what we bring.’ True – but worthy: be honest, you want to know WIIFM? Kathryn Deane, Consultant Director, shares what members are saying...
Quality: getting better at what you do

Quality: getting better at what you do

ArtWorks Alliance is committed to improving the quality of participatory arts. How are members going about doing that? From Kathryn Deane… Oh to be a widget maker. Everything about what distinguishes the truly excellent widget from the merely passable is known,...
What’s the point? Kathryn Deane is exploring culture value

What’s the point? Kathryn Deane is exploring culture value

Why do we do participatory arts? Let’s not try an answer here: it’s all in the fascinating report of the three-year Arts & Humanities Research Council Cultural Value Project. What the report highlights is that wishing for benefits from participatory arts isn’t...
Older people’s dance activities – first UK survey published

Older people’s dance activities – first UK survey published

A new research report into current practice in older people’s dance, published by ArtWorks Alliance member People Dancing and co-commissioned by Aesop, was launched at the House of Lords on 7 November 2016. This new research report provides a snapshot of current...
Quality frameworks launched

Quality frameworks launched

Frameworks for the quality of participatory arts have recently been launched by ArtWorks Alliance members ArtWorks Cymru and Creative Scotland. Quality frameworks are developing in different ways to serve different purposes. That is the main finding from an ArtWorks...
New leader for participatory arts

New leader for participatory arts

ArtWorks Alliance has announced that Kathryn Deane is to be its new Consultant Director. The head of the development agency for community music is to become the leader of ArtWorks Alliance for the period up to July 2017. “There was strong competition for the...