The first of four new publications celebrating 40 years of a-n, guest edited by Birmingham-based Black Hole Club.

On Monday 14 December, the Contemporary Visual Arts Network (CVAN), of which we are part, along with the UK think-tank Policy Connect, and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Design & Innovation launched a report outlining key recommendations for the Visual Art sector beyond COVID-19.

Commissioned by CVAN, and in partnership support with a-n, the Artist Information Company, the report is the first step in formalising the sector’s positioning with our Government by providing them with a clear set of recommendations on how to ensure that the visual arts are properly presented, measured, and which barriers should be removed to ensure a diverse and healthy sector.

Moving into next year, the visual arts will play an integral part in building back the health and wealth of the country, with the measurable impact of the economic and wellbeing contributions it makes within our communities regionally and nationally.

The report, that was released today, calls for five key recommendations; to establish a visual arts baseline, to set social and economic growth targets at a national and local level, to extend and simplify tax incentives to support growth, to remove barriers to talent from abroad, and to strengthen networks to deliver social inclusion and diversity.

The report was launched at a sold out online event with attendees from both the parliament and the visual art sector. Hosted by former Arts Minister, Lord Ed Vaizey, the event included an address by Sarah Munro, Director of BALTIC, and Chair of CVAN as well as Sonia Boyce OBE RA, Professor of Black Art and Design, University of the Arts London and British representative at the 2021 Venice Biennial.

Speaking of the launch event and report, Director of CVAN Paula Orrell says:

“Today marks a really important and significant step forward in formalising our relationship with the Government, something that has been a long time in the making.  We are pleased to be in a position to be able to make these recommendations on behalf of our sector. We believe that the visual arts will play a pivotal role in this next, crucial, rebuilding phase. 

We are committed to ensuring that we are around the table, having the right discussions with decision makers to ensure that our sector is receiving the best possible support beyond the pandemic.  We were encouraged by the demand for this report, and were delighted to see so many attend the launch event, both MPs and arts professionals, showing a real need for this level of conversation.  This is an exciting day for our sector, we are thankful for the contribution and support of our colleagues at a-n, and for the expertise of our partners at Policy Connect and APDIG for making this happen, this certainly is just the beginning of what we see as being a long lasting relationship with our government.” 

Jack Tindale, Policy Manager for Design & Innovation at Policy Connect and report author expressed that:

“It has been an honour to work with CVAN and the visual arts sector on this report. After one of the most disruptive years in modern history, access to culture is more important than ever for our social and economic well-being. The recommendations we have set out in the report are ambitious, but necessary, and provide a clear roadmap for how artists can contribute to the economic recovery over the coming years.”

In coming together and making these recommendations publicly to the government, the visual arts are demonstrating its regional and national strength as the beating heart and soul of building back better.

You can read the full report on the CVAN website here.

CVAN would like to thank a-n The Artist Information Company for their contribution, as well as APDIG and Policy Connect in making this happen.

On Monday 14 December, the Contemporary Visual Arts Network (CVAN), of which we are part, along with the UK think-tank Policy Connect, and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Design & Innovation launched a report outlining key recommendations for the Visual Art sector beyond COVID-19.

A Q&A with…Chantal Powell, sculpture and installation artist

The West Midlands-born artist and founder of the contemporary arts programme Hogchester Arts discusses her involvement with Isolation Art School, selling and buying work through Artist Support Pledge, working on project ‘Night Shaking’ with West Midlands-based artist Dean Melbourne, plus the impact of her recent a-n Artist Bursary – via a-n.

Artists Make Change: “Artists need to be more involved in policy decisions”

a-n Artists Council has initiated a 12-month research and development project that will explore the role of the artist in society and advocate for how artists and art organisers can effectively work for change. Glen Stoker, a visual artist and Director of Stoke-on-Trent-based artist-led project AirSpace Gallery, and Rachel Dobbs, an artist and educator based in Plymouth speak to Jack Hutchinson about the project and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their plans – via a-n.

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

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.

In the lead up to the General Election on 12 December a-n has published a toolkit to make sure the new government understands – and reflects – the needs and contribution of the UK’s visual artists. It sets out some key messages, ideas for communicating those messages and a sample letter/script for using when communicating with candidates.

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

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

Curating disability part one: bringing the outsiders in

In the first of a series of articles co-published with Disability Arts Online, artist Anna Berry writes about becoming DASH curator-in-residence at Midlands Arts Centre – via a-n

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

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-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.

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.

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.

Olivia Peake, Emergence. Image: Luke Pickering

a-n report on New Art West Midlands 2018 and the prizes and awards announced in partnership with Trust New Art and Cass Art.

a-n’s Writer Development Programme participants review Ikon’s Edmund Clark and Thomas Bock exhibitions as part of the scheme.

Selina Oakes reviews the Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art for a-n news.

CVAN have joined the Paying Artists Working Group, set up by a-n/AIR to inform the development of their Exhibition Payment Guide and support its implementation over the next five years.

Selina Oakes profiles the artistic scene in Stoke-on-Trent for a-n.

Dale Hipkiss, Odins Cordial

a-n report on a new Kickstarter for the biennial. The 17-day festival will feature over 70 exhibitions and events from UK and international artists. Jack Hutchinson finds out more from artist and biennial director Ryan Hughes.

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM – the UK’s professional body for musicians) and a-n have announced their collaborative campaign #FreeMoveCreate to protect freedom of movement for all who work in the creative industries.

a-n have launched a five-year strategy to tackle the growing challenges artists face in sustaining their careers. Valuing Artists aims to ensure policy makers and commissioners value the artist as well as the art.

The new one-year pilot scheme has been developed in partnership between the department of social protection and the department of arts, heritage, regional, rural and Gaeltacht affairs, in consultation with Visual Artists Ireland and The Irish Writers Centre.

Six art organisations from across the West Midlands are included in this years’ Artist-Led Hot 100, an artwork by Kevin Hunt. These include BLOK in Worcester, Portland Inn Project in Stoke-on-Trent, Office for Art, Design and Technology and Classroom in Coventry, and Recent Activity and Modern Clay in Birmingham.

Anneka French speaks to artists Tom James and Alex Hartley for a-n about The Clearing, their experimental geodesic dome set in the grounds of Compton Verney.

Disabled artist Beth Davis-Hofbauer recently produced the self-initiated report, Autism Matters: Making Galleries and Museums ASD/SPD Friendly.