A free toolkit from Inc Arts for the creative and cultural sector to take measurable action against racism.

Responding to the data collected via the recent impact survey on the affect of COVID-19 on the sector, the Contemporary Visual Arts Network (CVAN) of which we are part, organised a series of webinars designed to bring the visual arts together, provide confidence, celebrate innovation and foster interconnectedness as we all move into the next phase of response and recovery to the pandemic.

The discussions below address pressing questions on reopening venues; adjusting to the demands of social distancing; staying in touch with our communities; advocacy work; weathering the economic impact on our professional field, and retaining our value.


CVAN Presents…Black Lives Matter: Statements, Strategies and Codes of Conduct

Sharna Jackson, Artistic Director and Judith Harry, Executive Director, Site Gallery, Sheffield, and Ceri Littlechild, Head of Operations, Wysing Arts Centre discuss their organisation’s strategies and approach to racial equality and the Black Lives Matter movement.


CVAN Presents…Studios: Supporting Creative Workspaces during COVID-19

Three artist studio providers (Cheryl Jones, Director and Co-founder, Grand Union, Birmingham; Ingrid Banerjee Marvin, Artist Support Lead for East Street Arts, Leeds and Sarah Davies, Executive Director, Phoenix Art Space, Brighton) speak to their experience of continuing to support creative workspaces during Covid-19 and addressing issues such as:

  • Financial crisis – business models and sources of support
  • Capital developments – sustainability for studio providers
  • Access and intersectionality
  • National voice – existing workspace networks and future developments.


CVAN Presents…A Visual Arts Alliance: what can and should it achieve for the sector?

National sector support organisations have joined forces to support the development of the sector in these times. Join the panel Julie Lomax, CEO of a-n The Artists Information Company, Harold Offeh, Artist and Sarah Munro, Chair of CVAN and Director of the Baltic. They will discuss the opportunity and thinking behind the Alliance and why it is needed now more than ever.


CVAN Presents…In Conversation with Amanda Parker

CVAN has invited Amanda Parker, the new Editor of ArtsProfessional to discuss her perspective on what is currently happening in the arts sector. Furloughed from ArtsProfessional we have invited Amanda to take a view on what she can see is happening and support understand the dynamics that are at play. This talk is purely her opinion and one that CVAN is interested in discussing our lobbying work to government and what is needed to enable the cultural sector going forward.


CVAN Presents…Art & Philanthropy | Helen Cooper

Helen Cooper, Senior Manager, Philanthropy / Visual Arts will talk about how we can be expansive in our concept of philanthropy. Who is giving and why? What is the impact for visual arts organisations and their communities? And what more can we do to develop a culture of generosity?


CVAN Presents…Museums and Galleries Exhibition Tax Relief

An overview of the Scheme, outline guidance on the application process and issues that you might need to address dependent on the constitution and resources of your organisation.


CVAN Presents…Artists Make Change | Rachel Dobbs and Glen Stoker

Artists Rachel Dobbs and Glen Stoker talk about their involvement in a critical national programme that will evidence the value of artists work in the UK, defining the integral economic and social role.


CVAN Presents…Independent Artists and Practitioners | Matthew Burrows

Renowned artist Matthew Burrows MBE talks about the #ArtistSupportPledge and its global impact during the pandemic.


CVAN Presents…Reopening of Galleries and Public Spaces

Sarah Munro and Sally Shaw discuss the role of the gallery and response to their immediate communities and place. Placing emphasis on care, these inspiring Directors discuss their work in these extraordinary times.



Responding to data collected via the recent impact survey on the affect of COVID-19 on the sector, the Contemporary Visual Arts Network (CVAN) of which we are part, organised a series of webinars designed to bring the visual arts together, provide confidence, celebrate innovation and foster interconnectedness as we all move into the next phase of response and recovery to the pandemic. The discussions address pressing questions for the sector over the coming months and years.

Kadish Morris reviews Thirteen Ways of Looking, currently on at The Herbert – via The Guardian.

Coventry Creates – A digital exhibition of artworks created during lockdown inspired by university research. Part of ongoing work by Coventry University and The University of Warwick in the lead up to Coventry City of Culture 2021.

Birmingham Museums Trust, one of the UK’s largest independent museum trusts, has appointed Sara Wajid and Zak Mensah as joint CEOs. The pair will formally join the charity in November, taking over from Dr Ellen McAdam who stepped down in June this year.

Nilupa Yasmin, De’Anne Crooks, Pritt Kalsi, Bharti Parmar and Justin Carey are the bursary award winners for ReFramed, an initiative for emerging photographic-based visual artists of colour from Black, Asian and other communities of colour living within the Midlands.

Birmingham-based artists Joanne Masding and Stuart Whipps are among 40 artists awarded grants from the Henry Moore Foundation in light of Covid-19.

The government has stepped in to protect the UK’s cultural infrastructure, but has neglected the people who make the art – via The Guardian

Black Lives Matter has underlined the crucial role played by black photographers. Eight British leaders (including Birmingham-based Vanley Burke) in their field to pick a favourite image from their archives – and explain why it’s so important to them – via The Guardian



The Crafts Council ask expert commentators what they think the main problems are and how institutions should be addressing them.

We’ll be updating this list of resources and opportunities as we find them.

If there’s something you think should be included, please let us know via –


Reading, Watching & Resources

Practical ways to support BLM from the UK – a checklist including who to write to, donate to, resources and reading.

Anti-racism resources – intended to serve as a resource for white people and parents to deepen anti-racism work. 

Great resources from Beatfreaks – reading recommendations; Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) (mainly Black) self care/mental health tips and independent booksellers who are giving free access to e-books relevant to Anti-Blackness at the moment.

Strong and brilliant words from Elizabeth Lawal shared by Culture Central around resources, leadership and talent development, and what we can do to support Black artists and Black lives.

Into Film have launched a Black Lives Matter educational hub. A selection of films and other resources explore racism and anti-blackness, designed to be used by parents and teachers at home or in the classroom.

The documentary ‘Whoever Heard of a Black Artist? Britain’s Hidden Art History‘ will be broadcast on BBC Four on Thursday 2 July and then on iPlayer until 1 August 2020.

This Work isn’t For Us – an ongoing study by Lux, initiated by Jemma Desai. Partly a critical appraisal of historic ‘diversity’ initiatives, partly an alternative policy document, the study is also an embodied ethnography, assembling testimonies from arts workers navigating institutionally initiated gestures at ‘inclusion’. The first session shown here is with Zarina Muhammed of The White Pube whose text ‘The problem with Diaspora Art’ instigated a dialogue between Jemma and Zarina both in real life and through writing. Here they place some of their public and private texts in dialogue to explore the resonance and divergences in their practices, and consider the (im)possibility of writing as praxis.

Brap – Birmingham-based charity who provide Unconscious Bias Training for organisations and companies looking to learn and grow as a team.


Black history in the West Midlands

The Blk Art Group Research Project – Formed in Wolverhampton in 1979, The Blk Art Group (1979-1984) was an association of young Black artists who, inspired by the Black arts movement, raised questions about what Black art was, its identity and what it could become in the future. Set up by former members Claudette Johnson, Marlene Smith and Keith Piper in 2011, the research project was a renewed examination of the archives and historical legacies of the Group.

‘Black and White fight unite and fight’ – an extract from This Way to the Revolution, Flatpack Festival’s Ian Francis’ book on late 60s Birmingham.

Birmingham Black heritage sources held by Birmingham Libraries.

Resources relating to Black and Asian history held by Staffordshire Archive and Heritage.

Oral history interviews as part of Wolverhampton City Archives‘ Black and Ethnic Minority Experience (BE-ME) Project

Connecting Histories – shining a light on 20th century Birmingham’s diverse histories.

The Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick’s themed collection features a number of categories relating to Black history including ‘Responses to immigration’ and ‘Enoch Powell, the ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech and immigration.’

The Cadbury Research library hold the archives of the 1990s Birmingham Black Oral History Project.


Opportunities (these and more can also be found on our dedicated Opportunities page)

Digital Diaspora: The Midlands Covid-19 project, ReFramed – ReFramed and BCVA are offering two £500 bursaries for emerging artists from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities living within the Midlands. These bursaries will enable two visual artists to document and explore the effects of COVID-19 in their communities / homes (whilst also following government guidelines). Deadline: Sunday 12 July 2020.

#BlackLivesMatter Language Commissions for Black Creatives & People of Colour from Beatfreaks for those aged 16-30 within the UK. No deadline, the opportunity will run until funding runs out.

The Black Artists Grant is £500 given out monthly to a Black artist in the UK. The BAG is no-strings attached financial support to help the selected artist in whatever they want – be that make new work, buy equipment or materials, travel, research, visit exhibitions or conferences, or to even just cover some life expenses. Rolling deadline.


We’ll be updating this list of resources and opportunities as we find them.

If there’s something you think should be included, please let us know via –

For British Vogue, Birmingham-born designer, Osman Yousefzada discusses how Coronavirus has devastated “Forgotten Voices” in the BAME community.
Osman works at the intersection of art and fashion and exhibited at Ikon in 2018. – via Vogue

In the latest instalment of National Highlights blog, featuring works selected by staff and volunteers at partner organisations, Roma Piotrowska, Curatorial Officer at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, chooses two very different works that both have a personal connection. – via The Courtauld Institute of Art

A Thousand Fallen Blossoms

Photomonitor speak to Aliki Braine about her exhibition at Argentea Gallery which is due to be rescheduled. – via Photomonitor

The CAS acquires an evocative photograph by John Akomfrah for the Mead Art Gallery, University of Warwick Art Collection

The Contemporary Art Society has acquired a photographic print by John Akomfrah for the Mead Art Gallery, University of Warwick Art Collection. John Akomfrah is an acclaimed filmmaker and artist known for his deeply moving works which reflect on diaspora, colonialism, migration and identity.

Letter signed by hundreds of creative figures including Jeremy Deller, Grayson Perry and Anish Kapoor calls on government support – via The Guardian.

Cold War Steve’s latest work – an homage to his hometown of Birmingham – features a glittering cast of local luminaries set against a 19th Century cityscape. Find out more about this new commission from Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and Vivid Projects. – via BBC

New creative grant awarded to Worcestershire artists

Severn Arts and Worcestershire County Council have selected twenty Worcestershire artists to receive a new grant to create a piece of work inviting participation and connectivity. The artists will all be working to the deadline of the end of May to present their final pieces of work digitally.

Georgia Tucker, recent New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial exhibitor, is an artist, virtual reality designer and environmental activist. Her exhibition Conniveo is currently touring in the UK. Conniveo is a virtual reality and physical installation which explores marine pollution; particularly plastic pollution, oil pollution and dead zones. – via More by Here

Love & Solidarity: Jamie Crewe, Grand Union 2020.. Image by Patrick Dandy

The term ‘community’ conjures images of disparate individuals joined by shared interests, experiences, cultures, or religion. But the term also groups unquestioningly, disregarding an acknowledgement that frictions can – and do – exist. Jamie Crewe’s ‘Love & Solidarity’ at Grand Union, Birmingham, offers a conflictual understanding of kinship, and parameters for queer love and disdain. Review by Ryan Kearney – via this is tomorrow

Covid-19 impact survey: “a stark reminder of precarity in the arts”

Drawing on the findings of a-n’s recent survey and reflecting the views of over 4,000 members, the Covid-19 impact survey report provides robust insights into the emerging impacts of the public health crisis with 93% of respondents reporting that their practice or career has been affected by the outbreak. – via a-n news

Mass Paths

In an image saturated world, it is sometimes surprising to find a strong connection to landscape that can translate to the viewer so effectively. Warwick-based Caitriona Dunnett answered a few questions about the creation of this series, which has been exhibited widely – interview by Christiane Monarchi for Photomonitor

The Staffordshire Hoard

The Staffordshire Hoard in focus. Apollo Magazine pick their favourite virtual and digital museum resources. – via Apollo Magazine

Slaughtering the Sacred Cows: a reflection

On Wednesday 11 March, Anna Berry hosted a public conference, Disability Arts: Slaughtering the Sacred Cows at Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham as part of her curatorial residency there. Panellists included Aaron Williamson, Aidan Moesby, Trish Wheatley, Sonia Boué, Tom Shakespeare, and Manick Govinda. Sonia Boué gives her reflections on the themes raised. – via Disability Arts Online

Coronavirus Covid-19 a-n survey headlines

Initial findings from the a-n Coronavirus Covid-19 Survey, designed to understand the impact on artists and arts managers and the support they need.

The artist’s great great grandmother escaped a massacre by hiding underwater and breathing through reeds. Such astonishing stories of Indigenous Australian experience feed into this beautiful show that packs a punch. Hannah Clugston reviews Judy Watson at Ikon – via The Guardian

Arts Council England figures show BME and disabled people under-represented in sector – via the Guardian

We need bold new cultural infrastructures to tackle entrenched inequality in the arts, says Amahra Spence. Can a new project combine business nous with social justice? – via Arts Professional

Photographer Lottie Davies’s latest work documents a fictional journey across Britain, from the south-west of England to the far north of Scotland. Her exhibition, curated by Dr Rachel Marsden, is on display at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry – via BBC

The artist Sonia Boyce has been chosen to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale – the first black woman to do so. Her work will fill the UK pavilion from May until November next year. Boyce is one of the leading artists of the British Black Arts Movement and studied at Stourbridge College in the 1980s – via the Guardian

Tom Seymour covers a new photobook by Edgar Martins, including a series commission by Grain Projects focusing on HMP Birmingham – via Wallpaper Magazine

Meryl McMaster: As Immense as the Sky

Anneka French reviews a solo show of work by Meryl McMaster, her first in the UK – via Photomonitor

Betsy Porritt reviews ZouZou Group: – door open at Ikon Gallery – via this is tomorrow

Artists are the lifeblood of the arts, but their direct funding has steadily declined over the past two decades. A change in approach is now essential, says Susan Jones. – via Arts Professional

Matt Gale

New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial artist Matt Gale is interviewed by Santanu Borah – via Asian Curator

The Row is a former NHS building located in the centre of Coventry. The space is currently being used by Coventry Artspace, a charity supporting the development of artists and the visual arts in Coventry. Most recently it was a venue for Coventry Biennial 2019.

In their film, Axisweb talk to Mindy Chillery, Executive Director of Coventry Artspace; Ryan Hughes, Founder and Artistic Director of Coventry Biennial and Mousethings (artists Adelaida Antúnez Egurbide and Alfie Gibbs) who were the recipients of the Axisweb commission to show work at the Coventry Biennial.

Emily Hale reviews Coventry Biennial: The Twin, focussing on exhibitions at The Row and Herbert Art Gallery and Museum – via this is tomorrow

This year Jerwood Arts published a toolkit for cultural organisations, designed to encourage greater socio-economic diversity in the arts. Julie Lomax, Chief Executive of a-n The Artists Information Company, sees it as a starting point for helping solve the sector’s ‘class crisis’ – but arts consultant Chrissie Tiller isn’t so sure. – via Arts Professional

From Cample Line in rural Scotland to collective Myvillages, artists are reconsidering their relationship to ‘the rural’ – Tom Jeffreys via Frieze

The Museums Association (MA) has published the Museums Manifesto (2019), outlining what museums, galleries and heritage organisations require from the next government. – via Museums Association

Axis Directory member Helen Kilby-Nelson reports back from The Coventry Biennial, a city-wide arts festival taking place 4 October – 24 November 2019, including the work of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial artist Ewan Johnston – via axisweb

And the winner is…

The winner of the Arts & Science Sculpture Commission is Juneau Projects’ proposed sculpture Mosswerk. They have been selected from finalists which also included Andrew Gillespie, Intervention Architecture and Hipkiss and Graney.

Sean Burns reviews Fierce Festival 2019 – via Frieze

Gareth Llŷr Evans reviews Fierce Festival, Birmingham’s long standing programme of live art and events – via The Guardian

Now Showing 316: The week’s top exhibitions

a-n news select Coventry Biennial’s exhibition at Coventry Biennial, including work by New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial artist Amy Guo as one of their picks of the week – via a-n

Coventry Biennial 2019: The Twin

a-n news report back from the opening of Coventry Biennial: The Twin, including a focus on New Art West Midlands – via a-n

Emily Hale reviews Amalia Pica: Private & Confidential at The New Art Gallery Walsall – via this is tomorrow


Cash-strapped schools in deprived areas across the UK have been particularly hard hit by the shift away from the arts. Chris Sharratt reports – via Frieze

Ever wonder what motivates your visitors?

The Contemporary Visual Arts Network (of which we are part) and The Audience Agency have launched the Visual Arts Report – a collaborative project that draws upon data provided by more than 100 visual arts organisations across England.

We are excited to see visual arts audiences in England are socially varied, intellectually curious, and are increasingly dominated by a new generation, enthusiastic to engage. Find out how you can create more meaningful engagement with visual arts audiences here.

Ever wonder what motivates your visitors?

The Contemporary Visual Arts Network (of which we are part) and The Audience Agency have launched the Visual Arts Report – a collaborative project that draws upon data provided by more than 100 visual arts organisations across England.

From singing together to being read to in a library, an arts participation scheme is transforming lives in Denmark. Helen Russell reports – via The Guardian

Samuel West’s Open Letter to Boris Johnson

National Campaign for the Arts Chair, Samuel West, has sent an open letter to Boris Johnson, urging the profound importance of the Arts in the UK.

Please Sir, Can I Have Some More?

A critical review of Stryx Gallery’s SOUP Pt V: BLENDER residency by Emily Scarrott – via a-n reviews

Selected artists

Craftspace announce this year’s selected artists for In:Site, featuring graduates from universities across the UK who are working with a variety of different making processes. Many of the activities will be participatory and everyone is welcome to join in alongside the artists to create their ambitious art works.

Find out how Creative Black Country used digital content and platforms to bring local artists to a worldwide stage – via The Space.

A parliamentary inquiry is to examine the future of the National Lottery and how it can raise more money for good causes like the arts. – via Arts Professional

By embracing the heaviness in Birmingham’s heritage, and adding a strong dose of eccentricity, Supersonic is world-class. Review by Ben Beaumont-Thomas – via The Guardian

The 6 bursary artists for Living Memory have been announced. Working alongside 6 commissioned artists, the bursary artists will be working with partner venues across the Black Country to undertake new research circling community, archives and photography in Sandwell.

Socio-Economic Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts: A Toolkit for Employers

Fair access to working in the arts remains one of the most urgent issues facing the sector today, with those from lower socio-economic backgrounds still vastly underrepresented amongst the artists and employees of UK theatres, festivals, galleries and arts organisations of all kinds.

Jerwood Arts and the Bridge Group have joined forces for this Toolkit with a mission to look to the future: to support long-term change across the arts sector by sharing knowledge, providing expert support, and encouraging take-up of an intersectional approach to equality, diversity and inclusion. – via Jerwood Arts

Birmingham City Council decided a proposed 30% cut would have been too “damaging”, but says there is still an urgent need to find new sources of revenue. Adele Redmond reports – via Arts Professional

Vanessa Thorpe reports on Home of Metal, a series of exhibitions and events taking place across multiple West Midlands galleries – via The Observer

Why do so many artists not include a fee for their own time when they apply for funding? Lilli Geissendorfer explains how Jerwood Arts is challenging a pervasive low-pay culture – via Arts Professional

Funders are increasing their demands for data from arts organisations while only paying lip service to quality in their own statistics. It’s time to stop indulging them, says Jonathan Knott – via Arts Professional

A new report highlights the key role commercial galleries must play in achieving gender parity in the arts. Hettie Judah reports – via Frieze

A new report released by the Freelands Foundation has found that while more women (66%) are enrolling in postgraduate study in the creative arts and design this figure is effectively reversed for commercial gallery representation. In 2018, 68% of artists represented by major commercial galleries were men. – report via Frieze news desk

Coventry Biennial 2019: programme and exhibiting artists announced

The second edition of Coventry Biennial will be entitled ‘The Twin’ and feature a series of exhibitions, events and activities taking place at various locations across the city – via a-n news

A new exhibition at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery feels at once reminiscent and foreboding. Aurella Yussuf reviews the Ikon Gallery exhibition – via Frieze

Divya Osbon reviews Eastside Projects’ exhibition The Range, curated by artist Rehana Zaman – via this is tomorrow

Amelia Seren Roberts reviews Hardeep Pandhal: Paranoid Picnic: The Phantom BAME at Primary and New Art Exchange. Originally from Birmingham, Pandhal’s work dissects projects of cultural assimilation and the performance of heritage – via this is tomorrow

Currently exhibiting at Ikon Gallery, Hew Locke discusses monarchy, nationhood, bigotry, boats, Brexit and the seductive silliness of TV’s historical dramas – via Studio International

Hew Locke’s solo exhibition Here’s the Thing, on show at Ikon Gallery, is reviewed by Hannah Clugston – via The Guardian

Matthew Krishanu, whose solo exhibition at MAC Birmingham closes on 10 March, is interviewed by Cleo Roberts – via ArtAsiaPacific

Derek Bishton, Brian Homer and John Reardon’s photography is featured in The Guardian ahead of their upcoming exhibition Mac Birmingham from 23 March – 2 June – via The Guardian

Grand Union’s Collaborative Programme Curator, Jo Capper, is featured in The White Pube’s latest text Do galleries ever ask us what we want to see? – via The White Pube

His cartoon creations unravelling identity and empire have made him a rising star. Now he’s going global. Tom Emery speaks to the artist, who is originally from Birmingham, about his practice and rising profile – via The Guardian

Helen Marshall: The Face of Suffrage

Miranda Gavin reflects on Helen Marshall: The Face of Suffrage, produced by Grain Projects, taking place at Birmingham New Street Station – via Photomonitor

Tom Emery considers the re-opening of Eastside Projects in relation to the gentrification of Birmingham – via Frieze

More than 100 leading artists say policy will seriously damage many young people’s futures.

a-n’s Assembly programme of workshops, talks and networking returns with a new series of one-day events taking place in four cities around the UK, with events in Salford and Birmingham already confirmed.

Arts Professional report on the gender pay gap within the arts sector. Report from Frances Richens and Christy Romer.

Fi Churchman reviews Sahej Rahal’s solo show currently on at mac birmingham for Art Review.

CVAN update on their consultation of the English regions to determine their focus for their national strategy work over the coming three years.

a-n interview Jenna Naylor, New Art West Midlands 2017 alumni and artist based at AirSpace Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent.

The recently established Paying Artists Working Group met last month to decide on the steps needed to implement and develop a-n’s Exhibition Payment Guide over the next four years. a-n outline its plans and priorities.

The £150m Creative Industries Sector Deal supports the development of creative clusters and the roll out of a creative careers programme but prioritises digital businesses over culture. Report from Arts Professional’s Liz Hill.

Image by Andy Wright used under a Creative Commons license.

Our colleagues at CVAN have prepared some information and resources on changes to UK data protection law which will be enforced on 25 May 2018. Read more to find out how you may be affected by the new GDPR.

Medical journal The Lancet, feature Multistory’s recent project Black Country Lungs with Dutch photographer Corinne Noordenbos, which formed part of the Arts and Science Festival at University of Birmingham.

Tom Emery profiles artist Melanie Jackson for Frieze magazine. Jackson’s exhibition, Deeper into the Pyramid, is showing at Grand Union until 21 April.

Turner prize winner’s paintings among works acquired for Rugby exhibition

Works by prominent figures in Britain’s Black Arts Movement, including paintings by Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid, have been acquired by Rugby Borough Council’s collection of 20th and 21st century British contemporary art. Report from the Rugby Observer.

Mike Nelson sets up camp in Walsall

Will Martin reviews Mike Nelson’s Lionheart exhibition at The New Art Gallery Walsall for Apollo Magazine.

Image copyright Inès Elsa Dalal

This evaluation report was commissioned by Lara Ratnaraja and Helga Henry as part of the ASTONish programme. ASTONish focused on transforming cultural leadership by selecting creative entrepreneurs and artists both living in Aston and Newtown and those in the wider city who wish to engage with the area culturally.

Arts education professionals and politicians have met as a first step to tackling the structural problems causing the arts to be neglected in many schools. Arts Professional’s Liz Hill reports for a-n.