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Heart of Glass / A Modest Proposal


FORWARD STRATEGY & WORKPLAN


OUR FORWARD STRATEGY AND WORK PLAN IS BUILT AROUND FOUR KEY TENETS: TAKEOVER, COLLABORATIVE COMMISSIONS,


RESIDENCIES AND CRITICALITY. These will form the foundation for delivery in the short and medium term, and act as the cornerstones for long-term growth.


COLLABORATIVE COMMISSIONS: ART AND CIVIL SOCIETY


We are wholly committed to engaging the people and communities of St Helens in the inclusive development of the Heart of Glass programme, valuing expertise and experience, and ensuring a strong community voice in relation to both decision- making processes and the actual realisation of ambitious artwork. Sitting in tandem with our developing programme of artistic residencies, we will support a minimum of two large-scale collaborative commissions per year, which will connect artists and communities together in creating, delivering and growing commissions from inception to completion. We envisage long gestation periods for these works, with production on a two-year cycle, including a year-long programme of research and development. We will champion best practice within this field, and share learning with the broader sector through a range of media and networks, including our participation in a European Network of organisations focused on the development of collaborative commissions.


In terms of audience development this area of practice has huge potential as it not only engages diverse audiences in the actual creation of an artwork, but the exhibition, display or artistic outcome that has been created engages yet another layer of people, who become another audience for the final artwork. One of the central aspects of collaborative arts is the active participation of the viewer, spectator or audience. Quite often the creation of the work itself results in the building of an audience, an audience that might not otherwise engage with the arts, for example, an artist working with patients and staff to create work for permanent installation within a hospital waiting area. While the staff and patients are active in the creation of the work, the final piece of work on display will be seen and experienced by thousands of patients on an annual basis, thus connecting art to an entirely new audience and context.


We will support commissions in which artists and diverse communities of place, interest and experience across St Helens will come together to create contemporary artwork. In the process we will build a range of partnerships and relationships locally, regionally, nationally and internationally, making the St Helens’ arts ecology locally vital and deeply embedded while also networked and of international standing.


Collaborative arts, more than most forms of art making, is fundamentally based on principles of participation and democratisation. In collaborative arts the non-artist participants (community member, young person, hospital worker, scientist etc.) can become both co-creator and new arts audience. Collaborative art by its nature affirms the right of everyone to take part in cultural life. Historically this work has seen artists co-create with communities, connected to social, political and environmental agendas and quite often marginalised groups and culturally diverse communities. Collaborative arts projects can often be created outside of the traditional art spaces such as the gallery or theatre. In our first phase of the programme we have experienced important successes through this commissioning philosophy, creating dynamic collaborations,


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