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The Value of Artists: A National Conversation

The Value of Artists

A National Conversation organised by the Contemporary Visual Arts Network (CVAN)

& supported by AN

Henry Moore Room, Leeds Art Gallery


What value do artists bring to society? What contribution can they make to enhance the quality of the environments in which we live? How can the work of artists be applied within health, social services and education?

The Value of Artists will explore the benefits that artists bring to society, including the role that artists have in defining the cultural shape of our towns and cities, how artists working in all regions and remote corners of the UK are producing work that reaches international audiences, how artists have taken collective action to create new models of learning and support. At a time of economic uncertainty CVAN will ask; how can we do more to support artists and how can we make the work that they do more visible?

The event will also provide a launch platform for the creation by Axisweb of a rich data set of information about artists working in engaged practice or the public domain, initially in major conurbations, but ultimately not limited to urban centres. It is anticipated that this database will provide a valuable information resource for strategy, advocacy, and understanding how best to support artists and value the contribution they make. The data set will be offered to artists to create a data visualisation artwork or other creative intervention at the event.

The Value of Artists is a national conversation organised by the Contemporary Visual Arts Network (CVAN), bringing together a panel of speakers offering real experience and expertise, and a delegate body of local, regional and national influencers, arts professionals and visual arts practitioners.

The Value of Artists will be held at Leeds City Art Gallery on Thursday the 3 rd of March, from 10.30am ‐ 4.30pm with lunch provided. The event is free but attendance is limited to 120 places.




10.30         Introduction by Cluny MacPherson

10.40         Welcome by Sarah Brown

10.50         Introduction by Stuart Nolan

11.10           Keynote Presentation by John Hyatt

11.40          Refreshments

11.50          Presentation by The Drawing Shed - Sally Labern                                     

12.20         Presentation by Axisweb - Mark Smith on Narrative of Engagement                  

12.30         Lunch

13.20         Presentation on Artists’ Livelihoods by a.n

13.40         Presentation by Invisible Flock - Victoria Pratt

14.20         Breakout session: 4 x action plans

15.00         Refreshments

15.10          Presentation by In Certain Places - Charles Quick and Elaine Speight                

15.40         Panel discussion and plenary. Chaired by Stuart Nolan

16.30         Close


Speaker Biographies

Cluny MacPherson

Cluny MacPherson was formerly Arts Council England, Regional Director for Yorkshire and is now Chief Officer of Culture and Sport at Leeds City Council.

Sarah Brown

Sarah Brown is Programme Curator at Leeds Art Gallery. She has been responsible for the opening and launch of British Art Show 8 at Leeds Art Gallery in 2015 including major commissions with Martino Gamper, Ciara Philips, Linder with Northern Ballet.

Stuart Nolan

Stuart Nolan is a performer who combines traditional disciplines of deception with questionable technology. He is currently writing a non-fiction book, "Impossible: How Magicians Invented The Future", and touring a show, Season of Sleeps, which premiered at the 2015 Venice Biennale. He once deceived over 700 organisations just to prove a point.

John Hyatt

John Hyatt is known worldwide as an artist and musician. Since representing British Art as the featured artist of Arts Council of England’s ‘The British Art Show’, he has exhibited internationally. Between 2010 and 2015, John has shown paintings, prints, digital movies and rapid prototype sculptures in the UK, Australia, China, Japan, Portugal, Germany, Brazil, USA and India.

John was Head of Department of Fine Arts at Manchester School of Art from 1991 - 2002. Receiving a personal Chair in 1993, Hyatt became one of the youngest Professors in the UK. In 2003, he founded and is Director of MIRIAD (Manchester Institute for Research and Innovation in Art and Design), now one of the top five research centres in the UK.

Hyatt is a polymath and synthesizer of arts and sciences in new and traditional media.

The music world will know John as the lead singer with Leeds’ 80s’ legendary post-punk band, The Three Johns.

The Drawing Shed (Sally Labern)

Sally Labern is a visual artist whose work combines autonomous practice, short term collaborations and durational socially engaged projects like the drawing shed.

Pervading her practice is a preoccupation with the enquiry around the sovereignty of the artist’s voice, and how this translates into collaboration with other artists, and in turn how this manifests within socially engaged practice. Her work over the past ten years has explored the displaced space – the gallery versus the street versus the personal, and the emergence of an imaginative space, a preoccupation with ‘communities of imagination’ and the need to make objects and interventions that work on the edges of this impure exchange.

Labern currently holds a durational residency on two housing estates in East London funded by Arts Council England where she co-leads ‘the drawing shed’, a dialogical project that unfolds around the focus of mobile art structures; a mobile drawing studio and print workshop called PrintBike and a collaborative art writing / Twitter: ‘WordintheHand’ creating live choreographed performances.

Axisweb (Mark Smith)

Axisweb supports contemporary art in the UK by giving artists and art professionals a platform to showcase their work, find work opportunities, stay informed and make meaningful connections.

Their directory of over 2,500 selected artist and art professionals is an essential research tool for anyone interested in keeping in touch with UK contemporary art.

Through their opportunities and enquiries service they help find the right artist or art professional for any brief, whether it’s a purchase, commission, exhibition project, residency or public programme.