Common Practice


Public Assets: small-scale arts organisations and the production of value


Building on previous work on value and sustainability in the UK’s small scale arts sector, Common Practice organised a one-day conference to discuss the ways in which small-scale arts organisations produce artistic value beyond measurability and quantification, provide spaces for public experience extra to the market, and in so doing contribute importantly to cultural wealth. In this way, small-scale arts organisations provide ample evidence of the necessity to build rather than diminish state funding for the arts as a core public asset.

The conference took place on 15th February 2015 at the Platform Theatre, Central Saint Martins. Speakers included: Jesús Carrillo, Kodwo Eshun, Charlotte Higgins, Maria Lind, Andrea Phillips and Lise
Soskolne (W.A.G.E.).

The event was organised in collaboration with Andrea Phillips and supported by the Contemporary Visual Arts Network.

Video documentation of the conference

Andrea Phillips, Reader in Fine Art and Director of PhD programmes in Goldsmiths’ Art Department, introduces the conference – ‘Public Assets: small-scale arts organisations and the production of value’. In the context of widespread entrepreneurialism in the cultural environment today, Andrea introduces the incongruity of the operations of cultural organisations; as bodies that support radical thinking but operate wholly within the market it seeks to question.

Charlotte Higgins, chief culture writer of the Guardian, speaking about small scale cultural organisations as public spaces that are not dominated or driven by commercial interests.

Kodwo Eshun, co-member of The Otolith Group and lecturer at Visual Culture, Goldsmiths, talks about care for concepts and the nurture found in small scale arts organisations.

Andrea Phillips chairs a group discussion with attendees reflecting on the presentations of Charlotte Higgins and Kodwo Eshun earlier that morning at the conference.

Maria Lind, Director of the Tensta Konsthall, describes the wide range of activities undertaken by the organisation, showing how it is shaped by the artists and theorists who come to work there as well as the area of Tensta itself and its community.

Lise Soskolne, Core Organiser of W.A.G.E (Working Artists and the Greater Economy). Lise traces the role of the artist, non-profit, commercial gallery and foundation in the US art economy today; and advocates for a regulation of artists’ fees amongst the non-profits and institutions that subcontract artistic labour.

Jesús Carrillo talks about his experience as head of Cultural Programmes at Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid. In his presentation, Jesús traces the multiple ways in which the museum has recently undergone a period of introspection and experimentation during a period of wider local and global social crisis.

Andrea Phillips chairs a group discussion with attendees reflecting on the presentations of Lise Soskolne (W.A.G.E.), Maria Lind (Tensta Konsthall) and Jesús Carrillo (Reina Sofia) that afternoon at the conference.