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CGF UK supports new Co-Creating Change network with Battersea Arts Centre

The network aims to support the arts sector to develop and share co-created models of practice
Posted by Sian Williams

We’re excited to have been working with Battersea Arts Centre on plans for a national Co-Creating Change network to connect organisations, producers and artists who are harnessing the power of arts and culture to drive social change.

This new interdisciplinary network aims to support the arts sector to develop and share co-created models of practice, and help profile and distribute world-class, socially-engaged artistic work. Battersea Arts Centre are lead partners, and this week they launched a call for other organisations to submit expressions of interest before 31 May 2018 if they’re interested in getting involved. We are aiming for this to be a national and international network, strengthening links across sectors and borders.

We’re delighted that Co-Creating Change recently received an Arts Council England Ambition for Excellence award, which – alongside our funding – has enabled it to move forward with ambitious plans to place civic arts practice centre-stage.

The Rethinking Relationships report from phase 1 of our Inquiry into the Civic Role of Arts Organisations demonstrated a growing need for the arts to adapt if they are to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world.

Our Inquiry captured a growing appetite from cultural leaders to move beyond narrow definitions of participation, and towards a model where arts organisations genuinely co-create with communities – and in a way that is deeper and more sustained. We discovered many inspiring ‘co-creation’ models out there, but that these were seldom being spread across areas and organisations. The arts sector is still struggling to establish strong talent pipelines and networks for commissioning, showing and distributing work of this nature.

Many leading practitioners reported feeling over-stretched and marginalised, with community-led work being ignored by critics and poorly understood by potential funders. This is bad for the public, because it reduces the opportunity for diverse voices and new artistic talents to be experienced by a wider audience, and bad for the arts because it means organisations are not sharing the approaches that will help keep them resilient, relevant and responsive to the communities they serve.

Co-Creating Change seeks to break down some of these barriers by raising the profile of inspiring work, sharing processes and methodologies across borders and disciplines, and establishing new distribution channels over the next three years.  There has been a recent ground swell of interest in how the arts can catalyse social change – from both within and beyond the sector – so it feels like a timely moment to launch the network. We hope it will help build a national and international movement of cultural leaders committed to their civic role.

“It is fantastic to be working closely with Gulbenkian on this. We are looking forward to hearing from more artists, producers and cultural organisations who, like us, are interested in strengthening and ‘touring’ co-created models of practice. There is exceptional work happening, but it is often isolated and poorly understood by the wider sector. We hope the Co-Creating Change network can change this – and by coming together we can promote this work nationally and internationally.”

David Jubb, Director, Battersea Arts Centre

If you are interested in getting involved in the Co-Creating Change network, you can read more about it, and submit expressions of interest via the Battersea Arts Centre website.

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