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Together We Will: Pilot Programme of Sector Support

Visu­al Arts South West launch­es a pilot pro­gramme of sec­tor sup­port run­ning till the end of June 2021.


Togeth­er We Will is VASW’s six‑month pilot pro­gramme of sec­tor support running from January till June 2021. The programme sets out to bring the regional visual arts community together to collectively formulate a sector-led action plan at the time of crisis for achieving long-term systemic change within our professional field.

Whilst managing the far-reaching impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on arts and culture, our sector must also respond to a new set of economic and legal frameworks as a result of Brexit. The immediate economic effects of COVID-19 have already emphasised the inequity and unsustainable working conditions within the sector. Alongside small organisations, freelancers and young people, primarily Black, People of Colour, disabled and neurodivergent artworkers are overrepresented in precarious employment and at the highest risk of losing their income. Due to this precarious employment and low pay, the visual arts also systematically favours those with a higher socioeconomic status. At the same time, established organisations still need to address long-standing institutional policies that allow the continuation of unfair treatment. Dismantling this structural inequality is an essential part of protecting cultural development in the UK. These circumstances determine the priorities of Together We Will

Bringing together our peers and colleagues

Our programme is rooted in a sector-led approach, which will bring an array of voices, lived experience and knowledge to the forefront of our work.

  • Artworker Advisory Groups

We will establish specialised Artworker Advisory Groups within our region-wide professional community to develop intersectional working practices, and to draft regional strategies for artists’ talent and career development and for building sector audiences. The regional talent and career development strategy will be formulated with representatives of South West organisations who are specialised in supporting artist careers. Our sector audience will be built together with regional arts marketing and communications teams. The members of our four Advisory Groups contributing to intersectional practice will be selected via an open call. These calls for expressions of interest are now open to Black and non-Black Artworkers of Colour, Disabled and Neurodivergent Artworkers, LGBTQI+ Artworkers and Young Artworkers till 10 March 2021. Please visit the dedicated open call page for further information.

  • Public meetings for our peers across the region

We will arrange ten public online meetings, each dedicated to specific localities of the South West, to hear about our colleagues and peers’ priorities for sector support across urban and rural areas. The meetings are dedicated to visual arts communities living and working within or in the surrounding areas of Bath, Bristol, Cornwall, Dorset, Exeter, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Plymouth, Somerset and Wiltshire, and each meeting will be moderated by a local host. Further information on these meetings will be announced in the coming weeks.

Rethinking the governance of our organisations

To develop leadership and governance practices in our sector, we work in collaboration with our Steering Group and brap, an equality and human rights charity, to formulate and implement new policies for anti-racist governance. In addition to undertaking training ourselves, we work together with brap to support two organisations in the South West, who will join us on the journey to make our operational structures and principles safe, supportive and accessible to all. At the same time, we begin our work towards long-term strategies for environmental sustainability in the visual arts.

Playing our part in national advocacy

Alongside regional activities, we are working with our umbrella organisation Contemporary Visual Arts Network (CVAN) and its other regional networks to advocate for our sector nationally. As part of this, we contribute CVAN’s national Art Is Essential campaign and lobby for the continuation of Museums and Galleries Exhibition Tax Relief for the benefit of arts organisations in our region and beyond.

It is crucial that our sector comes together at this time of crisis, with a strong collective voice that equally represents all of our colleagues and partners as well as sector newcomers, to protect the future of our art form, to improve our working practices, and to advocate for the impact that visual arts can have on our social, political and daily lives. The core aim of Together We Will is to ensure that values of care and collaboration lead us in the future.

Together We Will is made possible with funding generously provided by Arts Council England.

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