Artists Make Change is a 12-month research and development project, carried out by a-n The Artist Information Company's Artists Council, designed to explore the role of the artist in society, and in particular to assess, and advocate for, how artists and art organisers can effectively work for change. The project aims to build an understanding of current contexts, to offer information and developmental support for artists, and, through a series of engaged, participatory activities, to find consensus, offer possibilities for and generate momentum to find more effective ways for artists to be considered as an integral part in shaping the future of the country.
Artists Make Change has grown from conversations within a-n The Artist Information Company's national Artist Council around how we can better support artists and art organisers to effectively work for change and how this work can be better heard and represented within a national conversation, not solely within the arts, but in wider society. We know that artists and arts workers can and do make change - within their local communities, within organisations, and by linking up with others to take part in or lead local, regional and national projects, campaigns, activism and direct action. We’d like to make this type of activity more apparent - to share with others how and why artists make change, to help artists take effective and productive steps to addressing the problems they see in society, and to advocate for artists as change-makers. We also want to highlight the gaps and what is missing - for example, it is rare that artists are involved in meaningful ways in policy making processes, we rarely hear of artists sitting on the boards of non-arts organisations, and we have never seen an artist as Minister of Culture (or in higher positions in the DCMS) in the UK.
During 2020-2021, we’ll be gathering and publishing a range of case studies, conversations and other resources to build an understanding of current contexts, approaches and support frameworks for artists and art organisers to develop their knowledge, skills and experience of making change. We’ll also be hosting discussion events to offer possibilities for practitioners to meet and generate momentum around finding more effective ways for artists and arts workers to be considered as an integral part in shaping the future of the UK.
Artists Make Change will explore the following areas, and more:
- Making change through arts practice
- Making change through collective organising and unionising
- Making change through elected, board and stakeholder representation
- Making change through community action
- Making change through art &s; archival spaces, platforms and structures
Quotes from the organisers:
“Working on Artists Make Change is proving to be a great way to bring together and focus discussions around how artists and arts organisers can and do make change. I’m a really practical person, so for me finding out about how other artists do things is massively important to help me shape my own thinking, action and future projects. It feels particularly vital to be working on a project like this right now, to support peer-to-peer learning in a time where structural inequalities in our society are being made more obvious than ever. I’m excited to see what we can do through Artists Make Change to help more people access the skills, knowledge and resources they need to make change possible in their own communities.”
- Rachel Dobbs (co-project lead for Artists Make Change, artist &s; educator based in Plymouth, one half of artists collaboration LOW PROFILE & co-founder of Jamboree)
“The impetus for me, as an artist, arts organiser/commissioner and advocate for artist-led activity, has been a long-time frustration with how artists are perceived by wider society. I firmly believe that the role of the artist in contemporary society extends beyond a “prettifier” or maker of things, or someone to bring in, on the cheap, to deliver a community workshop here or there in order to make a publicly engaged project look publicly engaged. Artists have particular skillsets, often time-served and research-based, which have a crucial role to play in the shaping and development of society. To see these skills, alternative approaches and versatile ways of problem solving being misunderstood, undervalued and overlooked by establishment sectors, both public and private, and often denigrated by popular media, is something that needs to change. I hope that this project, through engaged, participatory and collaborative principles, can be a provocation for making a change to this perception, a forum for collective action, a demonstration of professional value and a way of strengthening the lobbying power of the artist.”
- Glen Stoker (co-project lead for Artists Make Change, artist and director of AirSpace Gallery, an artist-led organisation in Stoke-on-Trent)