a-n Assembly is set to return in 2019 with four events across the UK, bringing together artists for a mixture of workshops, talks and get-togethers based on the broad theme of ‘sustaining practice’.

Kicking off with Assembly Swansea on 23 May, followed by Assembly Aberdeen (4 July) the events will build on a-n’s approach from 2017 and 2018, which saw sessions in Margate, Liverpool, Bristol, Newcastle, Leeds, Salford, Birmingham, Cardiff and Dundee.

a-n Assembly will continue to be led by locally based artists, resulting in events with a regional resonance that support a-n’s members and local artist communities. They will also feature a variety of conversations, artist-led tours, networking and debate, whilst participants can also expect to hear from a-n about the practical ways it supports artists.

The aim is to provide a useful and thought provoking day which helps artists open up discussion about the things that they need for a sustainable career.

Assembly Swansea

The 2019 programme kicks off in Swansea with a day-long event across three of the city’s art spaces on Thursday 23 May. Programmed in collaboration with Swansea-based artist Jane Simpson, Assembly Swansea will explore the difficulties and advantages of running artist-led projects in the city.

Simpson describes Swansea as “a city at the end of a train line, the exit off the motorway you pass on the road to a holiday in West Wales. When the city you are based in isn’t a ‘destination’, how can artists reach audiences, maintain relevance and remain engaged and connected?” Described by Simpson as ‘brimming with talent’, Swansea is home to a community of resourceful and creative people – but it also faces economic and geographical challenges.

Simpson has devised a day that addresses these issues and has proposed to ground the event with research from a pre-Assembly questionnaire. The day will conclude with a tangible outcome for the benefit of the city’s art scene.

The questionnaire has been devised by artists Jason & Becky and will be sent to participants in advance of the event to begin to identify the barriers to setting up artist-led projects. Their findings, along with a series of Artist Soap Boxes will be used to activate discussion throughout the day.

Assembly Swansea will also look outwards at existing projects for inspiration, culminating in a call-to-action with the creation of a manifesto for a Swansea union of artists, and road-map to foster a resurgence of artist-run activity.

Roger Lougher will share his experience of running artist-run project Rhôd, whilst artist Owen Griffiths – who has worked extensively on developing a socially-engaged practice, including collaborating with HMP Prisons, Social Services, The Trebanog Project and the edible land and community workshop space Graft (a soil-based syllabus) – will give a talk about his work.

Griffiths will then join Glynn Vivian curator Karen Mackinnon, Zoe Gealy from The National Waterfront Museum, and a representative from Arte Util, an international body that promotes ways for art to work effectively in ordinary life, for a panel discussion on the strengths and relevance of such projects in South Wales.

There will also be a panel discussion featuring Jane Simpson, GS Artists, Jonathan Powell, Elysium Gallery, and Pria Borg-Marks, Shift. It will pose the question ‘How can Swansea get the confidence boost it needs to realise the full potential of its arts scene?’.

The event will be compered by Dr Ben Reynolds, director of Urban Foundry, a Swansea-based creative regeneration agency whose mission is to forge great ideas that change the world for the better.

Read the full Assembly Swansea programme here: www.a-n.co.uk/assembly/swansea

Assembly Swansea takes place Thursday 23 May 2019.
Venues: National Waterfront Museum, Oystermouth Road, Maritime Quarter, Swansea SA1 3RD; Glynn Vivian Gallery, Alexandra Rd, Swansea SA1 5DZ; Elysium Gallery, 210 High Street, Swansea, SA1 1PE

Lunch and refreshments are provided as part of the day. This is a full day event. Booking is required. Tickets are free for a-n members and £10 for non-members.

Book here: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/assembly-swansea-tickets


1. Assembly Dundee, October 2018. Places of production workshop – Spit and Sawdust, Cardiff. Photo: David P Scott
2. Assembly Salford, May 2018. Photo: John Lynch

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