Social Art Summit: Call Out - Submission Deadline Extended 7/9/18

Calling artists working in social art, socially-engaged art, community arts, collaborative arts and social practice at all stages of your careers to come together and share work at the:

SOCIAL ART SUMMIT: An Artist-Led Review of Socially Engaged Arts Practice in the UK

1st & 2nd November 2018 Sheffield

Convened by Social Art Network

Over two-days artists from around the country will come together to share practice, showcase work and explore what it means to be making art through social engagement right now.

The Summit will showcase the work of artists from around the UK and beyond testing the ground for launching a Social Art Biennale in 2020. Artists, activists, community groups, curators, students, academics, funders and sectors working in the arts and social realm are invited to join the conversation through a series of events at Site Gallery and other venues around the city.

Founded in 2016 by artists Eelyn Lee and R.M. Sánchez-Camus, Social Art Network [SAN] aims to build an international artist-led network; expand dialogue and develop agency in the field of art and social practice. Sheffield based artist Ian Nesbitt is guest co-convener.

Major partners include Site Gallery, Peckham Platform, a-n, University of Highlands & Islands and Middlesex University. 



We encourage interested parties to consider and respond to the question what does it means to be making art through social engagement right now?

 Proposals can take the form of exhibitions, presentations, seminars, performances, participatory workshops, walks, new media or any other form we haven’t yet imagined! We are actively seeking new ways of sharing practice and process while encouraging discussion so please feel free to suggest new ways of doing this. We are interested in forms that reflect practice and are keen to represent diverse modes of engagement.

Ten years of severe austerity measures together with the wider divisive political climate has triggered a sense of urgency for conversations around the impact on communities and the art being made with and within them. We are interested in questioning, what kind of society do we want to live in and what roles can artists play?

By issuing this open call we are seeking to reveal the practices and ideas that are out there at this moment in time. The artist-curators will select a range of contributors to reflect vital perspectives on race, class, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age and national status, including areas where each of these might intersect.


Proposals should include the following information: 

Title, Description (250-350 words), Visuals (max. 4 references),

Biog (max. 50 words per presenter), contact info email / mobile / website

Type of participation (talk, visuals. dialogue, film, workshop, one to one, meals, etc)

Proposals should be sent via email to

Submissions extended deadline: 10.00am Friday 7th September 2018



‘Social Art Practice’ and ‘Socially Engaged Art’  are contested terms for an art medium that focuses primarily on human interaction and social discourse. These terms describe work in which engagement in social situations is not only a part of the process of the work as it develops, but also where the social interaction itself is at some level the art; an aesthetic in itself.

Artists working in this field may co-create their work with a specific audience or propose interventions within social systems that inspire debate or catalyze social exchange. Socially engaged art typically aims to create social and/or political change through collaboration with individuals, communities, organisations and institutions.


In 2016 artist and filmmaker Eelyn Lee was selected by Artquest to convene a group of artists with socially engaged practices to form a Peer Forum at Peckham Platform. These sessions, with twelve artists, triggered urgent conversations around the need to de-marginalise the practice, leading to the idea for the Social Art Summit.

In 2017 Eelyn and fellow peer forum artist R.M. Sánchez-Camus co-founded Social Art Network (SAN), a base from which to realize these ideas. Eelyn and Marcelo are working collaboratively to co-convene the Social Art Summit; build a network of artists with social art practices and develop the first ever Social Art Biennale. SAN aims to build agency for artists and communities making art through social engagement whilst developing new audiences for the work both nationally and internationally.

Social Art Network has been developed through the volunteer labour of artists interested in social practice.


In mid-September a selection panel of six artist-curators will meet to select up to 20 artists from the Open Call who will be invited to present their work at Social Art Summit. Selected artists will be contacted soon after that.


All selected artists will be offered travel expenses and accomodation* if required, and will also receive a complimentary Summit pass. There is a small materials budget.

*Accommodation will be offered through an Artist’s B&B scheme, whereby local artists will host visiting artists and delegates in their homes.

*Travel expenses will be capped at £80

In the interests of transparency, as the budget for Social Art Summit currently stands, 59% of the total cash income is going towards paying artists and their associated travel and accommodation costs. Further fundraising is ongoing. The Summit has secured funding for this project but stems from the volunteer labour over the previous two years of artists participating in the Social Art Network.

The spirit of the Open Call is seen as an extended Peer Forum where artists can come and share practice, meet new collaborators and be part of a growing network of artists whose work involves modes of social engagement. By expanding the network we aim to drive up the critical discourse and raise the profile of social art practice.


A second release of Summit tickets will take place at the end of September. If artists have bought tickets during the first release and their proposal is successful the price of the ticket will be reimbursed.



If you have any questions about the Summit or SAN, please get in touch via email:

Travelling instructions, our local accommodation list and information about the Summit will be posted to our page:


This Open Call was updated on 24th August to clarify the scope of the Call and disseminate information on fees and the selection process.

Image Credit: Helen Cammock Moveable Bridge, 2017, Film still, HD Video, 30 mins. Courtesy: Helen Cammock