University arts centres club together for more impact

New network aims to help venues to play an even more effective role in the artistic life of their communities and regions

May 28, 2016
Man being carried by group
Source: Getty

Twenty-two university-based arts centres have formed a consortium to share best practice and forge collaborative projects.

The initiative arose out of a 2015 report produced by the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value, Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth, which argued that higher education institutions “should develop long-term commitment and strategies to position themselves as beacons of civic and cultural engagement and as a resource for the local community by offering access to facilities, skills and new avenues of funding”.

This led to “initial conversations between multi-purpose, multi-artform arts centres” based in universities, explained Andrea Pulford, director of planning and operations at the Warwick Arts Centre, who is now acting as chair for the University Centres for the Arts Network (UCAN).

These then joined forces with single-artform centres at universities, such as galleries and theatres, to form a group of 22 venues located in places from Aberystwyth, Bangor and Bath to Stirling, Surrey, Sussex and Swansea.

Between them, the centres generate a turnover of more than £25 million and welcome audiences of at least 1.2 million people per year.

All already claim experience and expertise in areas such as: acting as incubators for new ideas and innovative practices; supporting students as curators and performers; engaging with local and regional communities; and contributing to research, teaching and impact agendas. But they also believe that they have much to learn from each other.

It is envisaged that members will meet three or four times a year. This, noted Ms Pulford, will allow for informal networking between centres, which offers “scope for artistic collaboration, supporting artists and opportunities to tour between venues”. 

But it will also enable them to explore broader themes of shared interest such as “talent development, employability and the value of lifelong learning”. Many may also want to consider further collaborations across disciplines, often bringing the arts into creative tension with scientific subjects.

The Arts Council, as Ms Pulford pointed out, is already very interested in “regional development and cultural place-making”.

Although the venues all contribute to these goals individually, UCAN should enable them to play a more strategic role through reports that set out “the case for the development of arts and culture regionally and nationally” and communications campaigns aimed at funders and others.

matthew.reisz@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Related universities

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Michael Parkin illustration (9 March 2017)

Cramming study into the shortest possible time will impoverish the student experience and drive an even greater wedge between research-enabled permanent staff and the growing underclass of flexible teaching staff, says Tom Cutterham