A sad loss, it was announced yesterday that alias (Artist-Led Initiative Advisory Service) is to close due to funding difficulties. The organisation has supported countless artists across the South West over its 18 years.
In a statement Alias' Administrative Director Sara Bowler said:
alias - the Artist-Led Initiative Advisory Service – has ceased all activities effective from October 2017. We have been unable to provide an active service to the artist-led sector for almost three years owing to extreme funding difficulties. Recently we heard a second application to Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts scheme was unsuccessful. As such, and with heavy hearts, we have no option but to close the organisation as we cannot sustain the lack of project funds any longer.
However, we hold our heads high in acknowledgment of the sterling work the organisation has delivered to the artist-led community since its inception in 1999 and are proud of the peer-to-peer model of knowledge-exchange the organisation pioneered. We are confident this spirit of sharing will continue amongst artist-led initiatives across the South West and beyond. We know there are excellent organisations and initiatives delivering outstanding work in the region and are pleased we could support many of them on their way.
alias was built by artists for artists, providing a critical context, resources and advice to groups through an advisory service, specialist seminars, targeted mircro-grants and artists’ hubs. It fostered the creation of an organic community where cooperative and collaborative projects could thrive. Artist-led activity resulted in innovative and engaging exhibitions, projects and interventions in villages, open spaces, towns and cities across the region. Its success lay in creating an empowering platform for artists’ activity in the region, where groups could gain visibility, knowledge and strength by sharing and critiquing their experiences.
It began in 1999 as a pilot scheme initiated by South West Arts (now Arts Council England South West), to support the professional development of visual artists. The initial research resulted in an advisory service for artist-led groups, steered throughout by a diverse group of artists, representative of geographical areas in the region. Stroud Valley Arts was instrumental in helping the organisation to establish itself as an innovative and influential supporter of the artist-led sector. In 2007, that initial scheme grew into an independent CIC (Community Interest Company), refreshing the original aims and adopting a new organisational structure.
Between 2007 and 2014, alias successfully designed and delivered several distinctive programmes in partnership with a range of organisations from the selfrun to the publicly funded in rural situations and major cities. It did not have a fixed base, operating peripatetically through the networks and geographic location of the Directors, Contacts and Advisory Body. This kept overheads low and enabled project funds to be targeted towards the sector. During this period we worked with numerous organisations including Spike Island, Art Surgery, Jamaica Street Artists, PVA Media Lab, Liquid Glass Centre, Devon Guild, Plymouth College of Art, Holburne Museum, OSR Project Space, CAZ, Plymouth Arts Centre, as well as many individual practitioners who contributed their energy, knowledge and experience to this highly community focused endeavour.
In its 18 years, alias supported over 150 artist-led groups, delivered 66 seminars, symposia & artist’s hubs and worked with over 80 partners. We extend huge thanks to all those who have contributed to the organisation’s success over these years. Artists are inventive, agile, curious and challenging. When they work together, they are formidable.