NAN Networking Artists Networks

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1 NAN Networking Artists Networks The Artists Information Company Collaboration The Artist Information collaborates with NAN and through NAN with JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee linking learning resources to University libraries) the NAN initiative is part of a searchable body of research available to UK colleges that subscribe to a-n: Aberystwyth University, Arts University College at Bournemouth, Bangor University, Bath Spa University, Belfast Metropolitan College, Birmingham City University, Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln, Blackburn College, Bournemouth & Poole College, Buckinghamshire New University, Calderdale College Halifax, Canterbury College, City College Brighton & Hove, City of Bristol College, Cleveland College Of Art & Design, Colchester Institute, Coleg Menai Bangor, Coleg Sir Gar Carmarthen, Coventry University, De Montfort University Leicester, Dundee College, Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh's Telford College, Glasgow School Of Art, Goldsmiths, University of London, Hereford College of Arts, Kingston University, Leeds College Of Art & Design, Leeds Metropolitan University, Liverpool Hope University, London Metropolitan University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Moulton College Northampton, Newcastle College, Newcastle University, Newcastle-under-Lyme College, Northumberland College, Northumbria University, Norwich University College of the Arts, Oaklands College, Oxford Brookes University, Rotherham College of Arts & Technology, Royal College of Art London, South Essex College Of Further & Higher Ed, South Kent College, Southampton Solent University, Southern Regional College, Staffordshire University, Stockport College, Sutton Coldfield College, Teeside University, Thames Valley University, The Oldham College, Truro & Penwith College, University Campus Suffolk, University College Falmouth, University College London, University Of Chester, University for the Creative Arts Farnham, University of Bedfordshire, University of Bolton, University of Brighton, University of Central Lancashire, University of Cumbria, University of Derby, University of Dundee, University of East London, University of Glamorgan, University of Huddersfield, University of Northampton, University of Portsmouth, University of Sunderland, University of The West of England, University of Westminster, University of Wolverhampton, University of the Arts London, West Thames College. Objective Through advocacy and information and from the perspective of artists, a-n s mission is to stimulate and support contemporary visual arts practice and affirm the value of artists in society. We are widely acknowledged as the leading UK agency for supporting the practice of visual and applied artists. Our publications and programmes are designed to meet the professional needs of artists and the visual arts sector, identifying changing trends and new needs. a-n enabled the development in 2006 of AIR Artists Interaction & Representation, a new practitioner-led body charged with developing research, campaigns and programmes that enhance artists professional status and recognition. a-n has championed the NAN Networking Artists Networks initiative since 2000, with its programme of bursaries, events and research offering a focus for networking and feedback promoting the value of artists initiatives. In creative partnership with NAN (Networking Artists Networks). NAN facilitates exchange, dialogue and collaboration amongst visual artists, whatever their practice and location. Through its

2 programme of bursaries, events and research it offers a focus for networking and feedback promoting the value of artists' initiatives. A typical NAN funded project supports artists and artists networks to travel, initiate and foster exchange during the research and development stages of projects involving collaboration amongst artists. Its mentoring programme funds artists to have a mentor and is designed to support artist-to-artist or curatorial critique and professional development at strategic points in artists careers, providing opportunities to take stock, and feed the development of future work NAN research projects have provided since 2004 a body of knowledge around how artists initiatives operate and how they influence the wider context, such as urban regeneration and the social value of art with the wider public. It has also looked at how artists group together and collaborate and how this impacts on their career, from new graduate to established artists. Benefit for partners The NAN initiative supports and fosters artists dialogue at grassroots level, and helps new graduates as well as mid-career and established artists, in creating wider awareness of the context in which their practice can or does operate. NAN does this through funding exchange and collaboration projects amongst artists and artists groups and networks in the UK and abroad, and offers a landscape of artist-led initiatives in the UK and abroad. Since 2002 we have undertaken research and consultations to identify how best to support artists' initiatives across the UK. Our Networking the networks research study revealed that 78% of UK artists recognised the professional value of networking and saw it as a vital aspect of progressing their careers. Our AIRTIME survey in 2009 identified the issue that although artists are using local / regional arts / cultural industries organisations for support, students appear not to use university careers or tutor advice, as a large percentage consider their advice not relevant. Dialogue with external speakers such as NAN and practising artists is very valuable in this context, as it offers the advice and opinions of established artists who have their practice as their main means of support. Students have a better awareness of how networking with fellow artists is a crucial part of ongoing professional and artistic activity on graduation. Impact on education The curriculum NAN Coordinator Emilia Telese has conducted talks in more than 30 UK universities Fine Art courses and artists professional development organisations about the NAN approach and research findings about networking as good practice in artists professional development and career. Universities involved so far include, among others: University of the Arts London (with talks at Central St Martins, Chelsea School of Art) Royal College of Art University of Brighton Byam Shaw College London Mid-Cheshire College Farnham College of Art and Design Sheffield Hallam University Glasgow School of Art Chichester College

3 These talks received very positive feedback from students who deemed them very useful for their awareness of their future profession as artists. The initiative highlights to students and staff the range of opportunities available to develop for artists beyond making and selling work. It also educates students in the landscape of the art world, explaining how artist-led culture fits within the economy of the arts system, and in what ways artists can engage or defy current models. Teaching methodologies The NAN project favours and promotes pro-activity amongst artists in their profession, rather than a passive approach, which some art colleges imply, is necessary for artists. During a series of four NAN events called Roadshow throughout 2007 in London, West Midlands, Yorkshire and Wales, the NAN initiative explored the art market in the UK and an artist-led, rather than curator-led approach to being part of the art world. Information and research gathered at these events has informed the above-mentioned talks at UK colleges, challenging teaching methodologies that lead students to assume that they need to adopt a passive approach, instead instigating them to do the opposite. Impact on community The NAN survey involved 100 networked artists (artists who take part in artist-led activity, social networking and current debate) in September 2009 highlighted the opinions of artists in terms of their value in society. From the survey, it is interesting to report that the feeling of being valued is greater in artists local community, and it decreases as artists are asked about how they feel valued by local and national government. How well do you think you and your work are valued and supported by your local community? Answer Options Response Percent Poorly 45.2% Sufficiently 11.8% Adequately 16.1% Well 21.5% Very Well 5.4% Other (please specify) How well do you think you are valued and supported by your local council? Answer Options Response Percent Poorly 56.4% Sufficiently 21.3% Adequately 9.6% Well 8.5% Very Well 4.3% Other (please specify)

4 How well do you think you are valued and supported by the Government? Answer Options Response Percent Poorly 66.0% Sufficiently 16.0% Adequately 12.8% Well 4.3% Very Well 1.1% Other (please specify) This survey prompted NAN to organise more talks and take part in several national UK debate events such as the National Campaign for the Arts national debate called This country can no longer afford to subsidise the Arts, which resulted in a published report on a-n Magazine. The results of this survey are also being divulged at University talks to highlight the relationship between artists and society along with the other surveys mentioned in this report. Economical benefit A-n The Artists Information Company provides funding for the NAN initiative through its subscribers, making NAN a peer-funded initiative. Additional funding for specific projects: Arts Council England Revenue Support to a-n The Artists Information Company. Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, ERDF - European Regional Development Fund (through CSDI - Cultural Sector Development Initiative) AIR employment survey, conducted in June 2009 with 634 respondents, highlights that 72% of artists are self-employed, 25% are a mixture of self-employed and employed 2% are unemployed and 1% is employed. The overall level of self-employment amongst artists is higher than for the creative industries as a whole (41%). Every year, there are 3,700 new graduates in UK art and design colleges. 13% of fine art graduates undertake work experience but those who have done this are significantly more likely to be undertaking commissioned or freelance work. The 2000 Destination and reflections survey (2000 graduates of art and design study by the Centre for Research into Quality (CRQ) at the University of Central England in Birmingham now Birmingham City University) highlights that 65% of all graduates in the sample were earning less than 15,000 per annum and only 6% are earning over 25, % of the sample have done some form of unpaid work since graduating. This is mostly on a part-time basis complementing other work and tends to be in small organisations. About a third of it is altruistic, and mainly done in not-for-profit organisations and two-thirds is seen as having potential to enhance career opportunities. The longer it has been since graduation, the higher respondents income tends to be. Interior design and product, industrial and furniture design students tend to have the highest incomes and fine art students the lowest. However, after taking this into account, there was a definite bias in income levels in favour of males for graduates from all subject areas.

5 The visual arts sector overall is 'poor' as identified by the Warwick Report for Arts Council England in 2005/06 necessarily affecting the context for paid-for/fee paid employment of artists within galleries, arts projects, etc. 58% of visual arts organisations from the Burns Owen study of the same period had programme budgets of up to 10,000, and 39% less than 5,000. Not surprising that even when they know about fee scales, 50% do not pay artists. For every three employees in the sector, two unpaid workers and one freelancer are also employed. Destinations and reflections survey in 2000 stated that 42% of art and design graduates have had some form of self-employment since graduating; our analysis of a number of surveys over many years is that this is 72% of all artists in According to business guru Charles Handy in 2005, 50% of people were not in what would traditionally be dubbed permanent employment and 65% were solo businesses. The NAN Go & See bursaries for research and development, which are designed to help artists groups and networks, are interesting to analyze. Bursaries are assigned on a peer-review basis by a changing committee of 10 practising artists. NAN bursaries from June 2004 until June 2009 went to the following UK regions: 1 London: 34 2 East Midlands: 25 3 North West: 22 4 South West: 18 5 South East: 17 6 West Midlands: 12 7 Scotland: 9 8 Yorkshire: 8 9 East of England: 7 10 North East: 5 11 Wales: 3 12 Multi-area, national or web-based: 2 13 Northern Ireland: 1 For a total of 151 bursaries totalling in excess of 159,000 The ratio of artists groups who decided to go abroad to those who travelled within the UK was around 60/40. Interestingly, the East Midlands are second only to London (where a third of all UK visual artists reside) in the distribution of bursaries. Initial research suggests this is due in part to the quantity of artist-led activity in the area, and in part to the Fine Art Faculty of Nottingham University having a strong professional development module, which allows better awareness of opportunities and higher quality of funding application. This initial research is currently being further investigated by NAN. Knowledge transfer NAN has challenged and altered future models of work for artist led initiatives with its findings about artists initiatives. The NAN Artists' advisory group, formed of ten to fifteen artists from around the UK, steers the development of all programmes and projects, assesses and awards NAN bursaries, and reviews future plans and directions. This has led to a dynamic change in models of practice for research and events and has provided a model for a peer-reviewed method of distributing funds for artists.

6 Strengths Artist-led initiative Links students with knowledge of real arts practice Peer-reviewed funding model ensures democratic approach and quality of projects funded Creates awareness of the arts economy in the UK Creates a direct link with artists groups and networks, validating and exploring the artist-led approach Creates research papers around artist-led activity and networking Weaknesses Professional development provision and involvement of practising artists in UK art colleges is uneven, creating varying degrees of awareness of the workplace after college NAN events are subject to funding While NAN provides students with information about artist-led culture and arts economy, NAN bursaries are not available to students at the moment. Further links with universities and funding could change this.

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