Art Connections - (see also www.art-connections.org.uk)
Art Connections was developed as a pilot project following research which was commissioned by Chrysalis Arts in 2001 to measure and map the size and main characteristics of the visual arts economy represented by artists, makers and craftspeople working professionally in North Yorkshire.
"We were very much aware of the difficulties experienced by rurally based creative businesses, the majority of whom are sole traders, based in isolated areas and restricted by the limitations of local markets. We recognised that the fragmented and specialist nature of the sector's activities meant that it needed alternative mechanisms of support to those that were available and that we needed to find ways of making it more visible." Christine Keogh, Project Manager
A Different Approach
Chrysalis identified the need for a different approach to promoting the sector which would increase its profile, raise aspirations and gain the support of non-arts agencies hitherto reluctant or unable to engage with it. The company developed proposals for a service which would offer a range of information, advice, training and business support programmes combined with a strong emphasis on marketing, networking and increasing the visibility of the sector. In April 2002, Chrysalis was successful in securing an award of ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ£219,500 from the Small Business Services' Development Fund for Rural Renewal. Additional funding was secured from Yorkshire Forward and Arts Council Yorkshire, for a training, mentoring and networking programme which was designed to underpin the project's other activities.
Aims and Methodology
The Art Connections pilot project established a vital link, resource and information point for visual artists, makers and other linked creative businesses in North Yorkshire and to create a new network which would address the problems of isolation experienced by many practitioners and stimulate opportunities for events, new collaborations, information-sharing and for wider strategic initiatives. It also developed innovative new ways to market the skills and services of North Yorkshire artists and makers including using the internet to provide information, advice and access to wider markets.
Alongside the advice and information service, other key elements of the project were:
A key strength of the project has been in providing a range of highly bespoke, specialist services that deal with the specific needs of visual arts practitioners. Art Connections has developed a range of mechanisms for providing information, advice and guidance, training, mentoring and other forms of support. This has been combined with the ongoing back-up of regular contacts and opportunities provided by the Helpline.
Also central to the success of the project has been the involvement of highly experienced practitioners, curators, commissioners and other visual arts, crafts public art professionals. Together they have created opportunities for practitioners to access areas of highly specialist knowledge, contacts and information which would be difficult for them to access independently. This has included drawing upon the experience of key practitioners in North Yorkshire who have largely welcomed the opportunity to share their skills and expertise. In addition Art Connections has worked closely with Business Link York and North Yorkshire in order to help the sector access other forms of support appropriate to their needs and to avoid duplication of services.
To summarise, Art Connections aims to provide a holistic, personalised service which is both proactive and highly responsive in relation to practitioner's individual and business needs. The fact that it is practitioner- led and draws extensively on Chrysalis' experience of working in rural North Yorkshire for over twenty years has been fundamental to its success.
Art Connections 2004 - 2006
Following the successful completion of the pilot project in March 2004, Chrysalis secured funding to December 2006 to develop the next phase of Art Connections. In addition to providing further training, mentoring, marketing and business support, the current programme includes the co-ordination of the first North Yorkshire Open Studios. This is the first country-wide initiative of its kind in North Yorkshire, involving over 100 artists and makers, and a range of additional showcase events. It will also develop a major international programme of exhibitions, residencies, conferences and educational projects in collaboration with Finland and Estonia. This is scheduled to take place in 2006/7.
tel: +44 (0) 1756 749222 | email: email@example.com