ArtWorks Alliance members meet regularly in a Forum.
The first Forum of 2021 took place on 24 February, via Zoom. There were some great ‘coffee conversations’ at which all sorts of serendipitous connections were made, practice shared and knowledge exchanged. Our open space sessions covered workforce issues, digital participation and advocacy.
At the second Forum on 20 April 2021 we focused on current key issues for members and consulting on the format and content for the first Gathering of the year on 19 May, which was a great success. We packed in so much knowledge and practice exchange – from hybrid and blended delivery to improving the relationships between organisations and freelancers – and closed with a spoken word piece summarising the passion of the morning, soon to be posted here!
At our Forum on 23 June from 10 am to 12 noon, we shared ‘ingenious ideas’ and discussed advocacy plans about how to make more noise about participatory arts.
We re-connected and started network planning for 2022 at our most recent Forum on 14 September and here are just a couple of comments from members at the end of the session:
‘I’m a member of AWA because as a freelancer, I want to be plugged into conversations I would otherwise be outside of due to not being part of an organisation.’
‘It helps to be connected to people across the UK to share experiences, ideas, dreams and everything in between.’
Our next event is the Gathering on 24 November, focusing on climate informed workforce development. Watch this space for details over the coming weeks!
The last Zoom Forum of 2020 took place on 9 December. ‘Good news and new practices’ was the theme for conversations and we also had breakout discussion groups on getting the narrative right when targeting funding; developing and deploying codes of practice; digital developments; and good governance for collective working.
At the previous Forum on 18 September we shared how everyone was ‘getting on with it’ in terms of their current work; identified ‘nations and regions’ advocacy actions in the UK-wide context, following up on the recent meeting with Arts Council England (see News & Views); and pitched ideas for the wider networking and deeper knowledge exchange Gathering event on 8 October. This was facilitated by Mortal Fools and we had a really productive afternoon sharing ideas, inspirations and resources with plenty of people experiencing that Alliance ‘magic moment’ when you’re ‘instantly networked to a rich vein of knowledge’.
Back at the July Forum, we were delighted to have a presentation and Q&A session from Kate Fellows, Head of Learning and Access at Leeds Museums and Galleries, about the work of the four task and finish groups on education and learning for the cultural sector which Clore Learning Spaces has been supporting with input from GEM, Engage and a number of performing arts networks/organisations to help colleagues plan for education, learning and participation work, as lockdown relaxes. In addition, members enjoyed networking and discussed plans for sector advocacy.
The Forum meeting in June was the first we held under our new membership model. There was a special focus on digital participation with plenty of discussion about the impact of Covid-19 on the participatory arts sector and the support and championing that ArtWorks Alliance provides.
And the last ‘in person’ Forum meeting in the old partnership model was held in September 2019 in Leeds, hosted and chaired by Heads Together Productions. Partners held a pre-Forum conference call about participatory arts with Alison Clark, Director of Combined Arts at Arts Council England, shaped the then upcoming January 2020 Gathering for Partners and Associates and discussed the Alliance’s Development Plan.
Forum meetings are great opportunities for general information and knowledge exchange as well as focusing on specific topics that members want to discuss and action. Everyone always leaves a Forum with at least one new idea or contact to follow up – and often, several!
‘It’s fantastic having your work contextualised, feeling you’re not on your own but part of something where there is a shared level understanding. This really supports being able to move things on. And it’s so great being collaborative rather than transactional.’
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Contact Mary Schwarz, Secretariat at email@example.com for more information.