How we work

Most of the Alliance's activities are carried out by groups of partners who come together to develop and improve specific issues in participatory arts that cannot be tackled by any of us working on our own. Each group has a Champion - someone who convenes conversation and supports ideas into action.

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

  • Tackle issues that clearly need to be addressed, and can best be addressed by working together
  • 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.


Activities in action


Group champions Rhian Hutchings, ArtWorks Cymru and Chrissie Ruckley, Creative Scotland (for ArtWorks Scotland), are exploring the quality debate and looking at relevant resources and tools. Quality frameworks have now been published in Scotland and Wales, which you can find in our Knowledge Bank. The Quality group is now rolling out these resources for use by the sector, opening a dialogue with funders about quality appraisal, and looking at how the tools intersect with other frameworks already in use. Check out the Quality in practice page for more information. 


Shared 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 Shared Services champion Russell Martin on

The audit is also helping to identify the combined reach of Alliance partners (it's significant - specific statistics to come!) and future areas for collaborative work.


Growing the Market

This activity began with an initial on-line group sharing thoughts about the issues of demand, supply and scaling up in the participatory arts field. Now partners People Dancing, Sound Sense and Heads Together Productions have met to review all the material that's been generated, summing up current opportunities and challenges to produce a paper for Forum discussion. Partners raised issues about education, training and CPD to ensure a supply of excellent participatory artists into the future, the need for diversity (of all sorts) in the workforce and potential sector advocacy led by the Alliance. Artquest, Engage and Liverpool Philharmonic have joined the group to think about next steps, integrated into the sustainability planning the Alliance is currently undertaking. Anyone interested in this area is invited to get in touch with activity champion Chris Stenton at



Under the previous Paul Hamlyn Foundation ArtWorks special initiative, ArtWorks London, led by Alliance partner Barbican Guildhall, tested a bespoke Fellowship scheme to support an established artist working in participatory arts to design their own professional development and make a mutual learning journey with a 'host' organisation. They subsequently worked with Baltic, Literature Wales and the National Glass Centre, Sunderland on three more Fellowships. Now they're working with another Alliance partner Creative Scotland to pilot the ArtWorks Fellowship in Scotland.

The Fellowship is a year-long opportunity for five mid-to-large scale organisations and artist partnerships to develop their knowledge and experience in participatory arts and creative learning. 

The Fellowship will provide, over the period May to December 2018:

  • a financial grant of £2000 to be spent on artist CPD
  • a two-day induction
  • six mentoring sessions for the lead organisational staff member and mentoring for the CEO

The five partnerships selected are:

Platform and Jordan & Skinner

Fruitmarket Gallery and Juliana Capes

Dundee Contemporary Arts and Jonny Lyons

The Stove Network and Katharine Wheeler

North Edinburgh Arts and Alice Betts

Induction took place on 18 and 19 April, when organisations and artists started to refine their key enquiry ideas with support from Chrissie Ruckley from Creative Scotland and Ned Glasier, the original Barbican ArtWorks Fellow.  You can find summaries of the Fellowships here.


Digital participation

John Whall from Derby QUAD is championing this activity (and you can see a past Blog from him on our News & Views page). In July, Derby QUAD and East Midlands Participatory Arts Forum launched a Digital Participation Expedition, the first of a series of events exploring digital practices and what we mean by 'digital participation'.



Championed by Caroline Mitchell, University of Sunderland, this 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'.



Through our monthly newsletter, we support the promotion of partners' events and also other key strategic events developing practice in participatory arts. Every partner is a Champion in this.


Partner recruitment

The Leadership Group champions the development of approaches to build and sustain the partner network.



The Leadership Group champions sector advocacy and promotes participation in relevant surveys, consultations, research and report comment.


AWA digital and marketing

Championed by Mary Schwarz as Secretariat support, activities cover the 'what and how' of advocacy, through our website, newsletter, social media and dedicated partner mailings. This covers communication internally, among partners; familially, with close working associates; and externally, with policy makers, artists, influencers and others invested in the development of participatory arts.