The small-scale arts sector in the UK has long lobbied for its survival within the decreasing funding scenarios offered by the public purse. Whilst small-scale arts production is always appreciated for its commissioning acumen, its ingenuity and international reach, as well as its ability to create deferred value, lobbying for more financial support has had little effect. This may in large part be due to the fact that smaller arts organisations have incorporated the language and methods of the increasing privatization of the UK arts sector in ways that are undermining and unimaginative: in effect many now embody the structure of arts governance very successfully. This day-long workshop followed Common Practice’s Public Assets conference held in February 2015, and intended to develop a more resilient approach by asking the questions :

  • Why do small-scale arts organisations continue to be shaped by the governing structures of accepted arts bureaucracy?
  • How can they be organised differently?
  • What alternative financial structures can be used to develop the arts?
  • What forms of cooperative, collective patronage can be modeled?
  • How might networks such as Common Practice / CVAN be used to share rather than compete for resources?
  • How might the small-scale arts be imagined in a non-relational way to their larger cousins – how might we scale down, slow down?

Approximately 20 small scale organisations from across the UK  were invited to attend and contribute to the conversation and the findings will be distributed in due course.