Art School Background

'Moor' by Richard Deacon, 1990 (Commissioned for TSWA Four Cities project. Victoria Park, Plymouth). Photo taken by Sophie Hope, August 2006.

‘Art School’ is a new agency that develops critical thinking and debate about arts relation to society with those working in the professional arenas of art, business, architecture and local government. The workshops are delivered by an experienced team of Art School Instructors.

Each series of Art School workshops takes place in a specific georgraphic location and invites artists and commissioners of art based in that area to take part. This means each series of workshops is tailor made to the location and takes the issues and possibilities of that site as a starting point for debate. Art School takes the format of a one day workshop for commissioners and a separate one day workshop for artists, followed by a dinner and discussion with both groups. The first Art School will take place in Plymouth in October and will be documented here.

The aims of Art School are to:

Increasingly, people working in diverse aspects of contemporary society, such as urban development, education, health and corporate social responsibility are turning to the arts for new ideas, problem solving and community bridge building. The employment of artists in these (traditionally non-cultural) fields, where there are other non-art issues and agendas at stake, is becoming the norm.

While this is happening, some artists and other critical practitioners are questioning the changing roles and responsibilities artists have in society. Art School is an opportunity for artists and the commissioners of art to take a step back to think critically about why work with art and to question the value systems that underpin the commissioning process.

The Art School curriculum focuses on art and an introduction to a multitude of different practices from national and international artists with alternative tours of the place in which the workshops take place by local artists. Art School aims to inject some of the existing critical thinking and debates about arts relation to society into the professional arena of business, architecture and local government where the actual work is being carried out. It is with this public - employees in the commercial and public sector who are working with art and artists who are carrying these commissions - that Art School is for. The workshops will hopefully therefore enable students to effect change in the way that art is used, commissioned and communicated.