Over 25th and 26th February 2016 The Stove Network co-produced and hosted a national summit called Art_Inbetween about integrated arts practice in rural regions. The summit attracted participants from all around the British Isles including invited teams from Scottish Highlands, Northumberland and South Wales. Art_Inbetween consisted of a series of structured conversations on 6 topics which supported artists, art professionals, academics and other stakeholders in art practice to share ideas and experience, listen to others and shape new ideas collaboratively.
‘Towns, villages and other rural places provide a different challenge for artists and arts organisations. By necessity, the arts in rural regions often operate in an innovative, integrated and inbetween way – with the arts acting as a bridge between other forces at work in a place. In understanding the present and future value of the arts in society, there is a need to recognise, re-articulate and explore the distinctiveness of the contemporary rural arts scene. Art_Inbetween is an arts-led summit for people working in smaller places to come together to share experience, knowledge and dreams in a creative and useful environment.’ Art_Inbetween Summit pack
The topics discussed were:
> Art as Activism – what are the best strategies to affect change in society?
> Getting new things started in rural contexts – since when did everything start in cities?
> New thinking about structures for the way things are run. Is there is no one in charge any more?
> Hinterlands, Nodes, Distance – should we redefine the rural narrative?
> What on earth does a ‘Cultural High Street’ look like?
> Can socially-engaged art be good art? How can its impacts be measured?
The first day of Art_Inbetween was a wider public invite and was attended by 72 people. In the evening the Summit continued at a dinner where quotes from the day were included in specially made crackers and entertainment was provided by local artists and musicians.
Day two was for invited teams only, it began with presentations sharing the ‘micro-contexts’ of the home regions of the teams and also included presentations by experts indifferent fields of funding support for integrated/participatory arts practice. Through the day participants were led by facilitator Sam Cassels (Scottish Futures Trust) to develop a series of new project proposals for future collaborative working between Higher Education and the arts practice based on the discussions of Day One.
Artists Jo Hodges and Robbie Coleman were commissioned through Art_Inbetween to attend the summit and then develop a piece of work around ideas that interested them that came out of the summit. Jo and Robbie’s Blog following the summit is here.
Sarah Beattie-Smith (artist, politician and co-author of Scottish Green Party Cultural Policy) attended the Summit and here blog about it is here
Art_Inbetween was supported by a Development Grant through the ArtWorks project initiated by Paul Hamlyn Foundation which explores ‘art in participatory settings’
Creative Scotland included Art_Inbetween as part of their Visual Arts Practice review carried out through 2015/16
Art_Inbetween was hosted by The Stove Network in Dumfries in collaboration with The Crichton Institute and Newcastle University and supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation (Artworks in a Participatory Setting), Newcastle University (Institute for Creative Arts Practice), The Stove Network and Active Northumberland (Northumberland County Council), ArtWorks Cymru and ArtWorks Scotland.