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Join us at a series of free nationwide conferences

'A Civic Role for Arts Organisations: Relevance Risks Rewards' will be travelling across the UK over the next few months
Posted by Sian Williams

In June we will be launching a series of free, nationwide conferences: ‘A Civic Role for Arts Organisations: Relevance Risks Rewards‘.

Here’s a bit about what they will cover:

~~ What does it mean to play a civic role? For some arts organisations, it is at the heart of their mission and practice; others think it is not relevant. Communities are questioning whether the public money that arts organisations receive is benefiting local people; there are hard questions to be asked and there are no easy answers.  

We will be visiting four areas across England in June. Each conference will speak to different topics but all will be about the same central theme.

  • 10th June, Manchester, The Whitworth: ‘Partnerships, People and Power Dynamics’

What partnerships can the arts sector develop to foster cross-sector working, embed culture and the arts in the heart of civic life and bring about systemic change? Where does the power lie in these partnerships and how does that influence artistic practice, curation and creation? Are the cultural experiences that are on offer relevant to people’s lives?

The conference will start with key perspectives addressing the topic: ‘’Partnerships, People and Power Dynamics’ within the overarching theme of Relevance, Risks and Rewards, followed by interventions, presentations and panels. Opening perspective from Nina Simon, Founder/CEO, OF/BY/FOR ALL

  • 19th June, Sage Gateshead: The Art of Cultural Democracy’

Who decides what cultural democracy means? What is at risk and what could the rewards be? Who is in the driving seat and whose voices are being heard? Given the diverse and changing nature of society and world politics, surely we need new systems and approaches within the arts sector to better include, listen to and respond to our diverse communities – or does the whole arts and culture  system need replacing with new models of co-creation and collaborative commissioning?

The conference will start with key perspectives addressing the topic: ‘The Art of Cultural Democracy’  within the overarching theme of Relevance, Risks and Rewards, followed by interventions, presentations and panels discussing a plurality of approaches and experiences.

  • 21st June, London, Wellcome Trust: Cultural Spaces: Temples or Town Halls?’

Cultural spaces, whether they be building based, conceptual, virtual, pop-up or temporary locations outdoors, can play a pivotal role in developing creativity, enriching lives and communities and fostering social cohesion. A majority of cultural spaces are funded with public money, we continue to create new spaces but who is benefiting and how are communities involved in making the decisions? How relevant is the work that is produced to the lives and ambitions of the communities that cultural spaces are located within?

The conference will start with key perspectives addressing the topic: Cultural Spaces: Temples or Town Halls?’ within the overarching theme of Relevance, Risks and Rewards, followed by interventions, presentations and panels: ‘Re-imagining our cultural spaces’ and ‘New space, who will come?’ Opening perspective from Sir Nick Serota, Chair, ACE

  • 28th June, Bristol, Arnolfini: Art: A Catalyst for Radical Change

In a time of political, social and environmental change, how can arts and culture provoke us to question the status quo and inspire us to create new approaches that can lead to systemic change? Equally, how can the arts provide a safe space for debate, enhancing understanding and tolerance? If art has the potential to change the world and inspire action, for example against climate change or social injustice, who is taking responsibility for lighting the touchpaper? What support structures can we offer the fresh voices that are making themselves heard?

The conference will start with key perspectives addressing the topic: ‘Art: A Catalyst for Radical Change’ within the overarching theme of Relevance, Risks and Rewards, followed by interventions, presentations and panels to debate systems, fresh approaches and potential levers for change.

Other dates and locations

The Birmingham conference scheduled for 13 June is being moved to September due to speaker availability. We will also be running these conferences in Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland in the autumn. If you would like to work with us regarding these conferences then please get in touch.

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