Value Added: Roles, participation and economies in contemporary visual practice, Wednesday 12 November 2008 at SPACE Triangle
Artquest, in partnership with SPACE, presented Value Added, a conference for artists and commissioners exploring questions of value in relation to socially engaged artistic practice.
With the emphasis placed on participation and social exclusion in current European, central and local government cultural and regeneration policies, there has been an explosion of socially engaged projects in recent years. This looks set to continue further in London with the cultural opportunities linked to the Olympics, Thames Gateway and other regeneration projects (e.g. Kings Cross, Greenwich Peninsula).
This one-day conference brought together key stakeholders to discuss issues specific to London and the wider questions of the value and ownership of contemporary arts practice. It offered practitioners (artists and those who work with them) new perspectives on the opportunities for socially engaged practice in London currently and the professional and critical issues inherent in this type of work.
Contributors included Caroline Jenkinson (Head of Arts and Tourism, London Borough of Camden), David Cotterrell (artist), Mark Sealy (Director, Autograph ABP), Margaret Sheehy (Chair, Audiences London), Faisal Abdu'Allah (artist) and Alicia Miller and Vivienne Reiss (freelance consultant).
There have been other seminars (e.g. Arts Council England's Inter-rupt series in 2003), various solo and group exhibitions, and publications (e.g. Open space: art in the public realm 1995-2005, 2007) on related themes. However, this event is unique in its focus on the major opportunities that London-based artists and could have if we engage successfully with the major regeneration projects planned for the capital in the next decade. Speakers will include professionals directly involved in commissioning artists in London, as well as those with wider and international experience. This emphasis on professional knowledge and debates clearly sets this event apart and makes it highly relevant for practitioners (both commissioners and artists alike).
The theme of 'value' is the focus for the conference: the value of this type of practice to commissioners, participants and artists, questions of how we frame and present this value, and how artists and commissioners together can express and capture value. Expressing the value of the arts in social and regeneration contexts is also a key ongoing concern of policy bodies and opinion-formers including ACE and DCMS (for example, Tessa Jowells' Government and the Value of Culture paper, 2004), and Sir Brian McMaster's Supporting Excellence in the Arts: From measurement to judgement (DCMS, 2008) and this event will contribute new perspectives to this discourse.