• Artists on the Frontline

    An article i wrote recently has been published on the Arts Professional website entitled, Relationships with a Future. It encouraged me to evaluate the relationship that an artist has within the world in which they work.

    A common strand through much of my work has been about supporting artists to develop. ArtWorks: Developing Practice in Participatory Settings is a Paul Hamlyn Foundation special initiative and I have been privileged to work on it as Project Director since 2011. The initiative comes to an end in April 2015 and I am in the process of writing up our final report.

    In the midst of this intensive period of writing and thinking, I led a workshop with musicians from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic who lead programmes of work across a range of complex settings for Merseycare – secure units, dementia wards, prisons and rehabilitation units. I have worked with these musicians now for two years and our focus has been on leadership development and team working. It is some of the most rewarding work I have ever done and I admire the musicians for their skill, commitment and care for the service users they engage with. The work can be tough and emotionally draining and their passion for what they do is incredible often in some very difficult circumstances.

    The workshop made me reflect on some of the important learning from ArtWorks – artists are on the front line of project managers planning, commissioners aspired for outcomes and expectations and the service users’ needs. Quality is a shared responsibility for us all.

    What the artists are able to deliver will always be constrained by what the other stakeholders put in place. Often artists are placed in situations where the quality of what they can deliver is constrained through no fault of their own and it seems to me that we all have a responsibility to ensure that we work together to ensure that this doesn’t happen. The right space and environment, support for artists in the settings from the professionals who work in them, time for reflection and feedback, realistic project design and expectations all contribute to create conditions for quality work and experiences. Surely, we can all work together to make this happen? Artists deserve it and so do the participants.

    Furthur Links:

    ArtWorks: What do you need?

    ArtWorks: Insight into facilitating Quality impacts through participatory arts

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