a-n The Artists Information Company and Artquest have recently announced a new partnership programme that will provide increased professional development opportunities for artists throughout the UK.
At a time of great uncertainty in the arts, A+ has been devised to offer positive solutions, by harnessing the expertise, experience and resources of visual artists and professional development organisations, to achieve excellence in support of professional development. A+ will be delivered through partnerships, enabling all those with an interest in professional development and artistic excellence to actively participate to achieve more for the arts through cooperative working.
The new programme is the brainchild of Artquest's Programme Manager Stephen Beddoe and Susan Jones, Director of Programmes at a-n. The two organisations have a long-standing working relationship, and this programme has emerged from intensive discussions to identify imaginative solutions to supporting the future livelihoods of the UK's diverse community of visual artists in these complex and difficult times. 72% of visual and applied artists are estimated to be self employed, and the value of openly-offered work has reduced by 27% since 2007, according to recent research by a-n and AIR.
The programme's aims are to provide a strategic and credible grassroots response to the challenges artists and the visual arts sector face nowadays; to demonstrate resilient and sustainable models for future visual arts infrastructure and enable direct and devolved delivery of key aspects of arts policy such as Arts Council England's Achieving Great Art for Everyone, and specific ambitions within Turning Point and Creative and Cultural Skills' Visual Arts Blueprint for Workforce Development.
Launching the programme to key stakeholders, Stephen Beddoe commented: "At a time of great economic uncertainty in the cultural sector we feel A+ offers an opportunity to do the right thing at the right time. Whilst our organisations retain our own regional and national perspectives and priorities, we have identified this as a
case where collaborative working will limit duplication in the sector and deliver on visual arts priorities within key initiatives. We look forward to working with a-n and also welcome participation of other visual arts organisations who share our aims, to deliver additional projects for the benefit of visual arts practitioners".
By working collectively, the A+ programme will encompass interactive events, web-based initiatives, research and signposting will be offered to over 35,000 active visual artist practitioners already engaged with a-n and Artquest and promoted further through their networks of practitioners and peer organisations internationally. Current Artquest artists' programmes include Self Assembly, Peer Critique and bursary programmes in Amsterdam and Berlin as well as the Artquest, Artelier, Art Routes and Artlaw websites, whilst a-n delivers events such as AIRTIME (on behalf of AIR), regional seminars for local authorities and NAN bursaries for artists' networks, alongside its websites and associated publications.
a-n and Artquest have partnered on developments over many years. They were founder members of the APD network of Artists' Professional Development Organisations and collaborated on delivering The Artists Development Toolkit, Fast Forward and Future Forecast. As Susan Jones said: "We are committed to partnership working as a way of ensuring a stronger and more effective visual arts infrastructure. We both recognise that resourcing should be informed by the specific characteristics and conditions within artists' populations. We are informed by the many varied (and) innovative approaches to artists' professional development, created in response to demand and context".
First published: a-n.co.uk September 2010
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