How we work

Most of the Alliance’s activities are carried out by groups of partners who come together to work on 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.

Activities in action


Group champions Rhian Hutchings, ArtWorks Cymru and Chrissie Ruckley, Creative Scotland (for ArtWorks Scotland), are exploring the quality debate and developing tools, resources and guidance. Quality frameworks have now been published in Scotland and Wales, which you can find in our Knowledge Bank. The Quality group is rolling out these resources for use by the sector and importantly working with national funders on quality appraisal, so participatory arts work is understood and judged appropriately. 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 benefiting from economies of scale and shared capacity. Through ArtWorks Alliance, these organisations are now initiating a bigger conversation to explore new opportunities to share more and different services, helped by an audit of partners currently in progress. This 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. Russell Martin from Artquest is champion for this work.

ArtWorks Fellowship

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. Next came working as co-champions with another Alliance partner Creative Scotland to pilot the ArtWorks Fellowship in Scotland.

The Fellowship was 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 provided, 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 were:

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

You can find summaries of the Fellowships and key learning from the pilot here. 

LATEST NEWS! You’re invited to take part in a survey to help understand where the Fellowship sits in the CPD landscape and what else is out there relating to the Fellowship model of training and development. Deadline 11 October 2019 and it only takes 5-10 minutes to complete. 

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 2018, 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’. Read more about the launch and the second event held in April 2019 here.


Caroline Mitchell, University of Sunderland and ArtWorks-U, is the ArtWorks Alliance champion working with the University of Warwick to apply for an Arts and Humanities Research Council grant to set up a research network of academics and artists. The network will explore  ‘The Work of Participation’.

Events and advocacy

Through our monthly newsletter and social media, we promote partners’ events and other strategic initiatives developing practice in participatory arts; advocate the work; and encourage participation in relevant surveys, consultations, research and report comment so the sector has a collective say. All partners, supported by the Secretariat, are champions in this activity.

Featured Resources

All Resources

Case Studies

Evaluations & Reports




Toolkits & Guidance


Culture, Democracy and the Right to Make Art: The British Community Arts Movement

The story of the UK community arts movement.

Author: edited by Alison Jeffers and Gerri Moriarty

A Restless Art

A book about participatory art and its more radical predecessor, community art.

Author: François Matarasso