Artists Make Change
Peer Learning Groups

October 2020 – January 2021

ARTISTS MAKE CHANGE has grown from conversations within the a-n Artist Council about how artists could/need to be better heard and represented within a national conversation, not solely within the arts, but in wider society.

We know that artists can & do make change - within their local communities, within organisations, and by linking up with others to take part in or lead local, regional & national campaigns, activism and direct action.

We are inviting artists to form a series of groups and collectives to form discussion groups to discuss the subject of artists making change. We have some small group bursaries on offer - details of which can be found HERE. If you are interested in getting a group together to discuss the issues, here are some ideas for how you might develop your group.

As part of a wider programme of generating useful online resources, content, activity & discussion, we want to encourage the formation of a number of peer learning groups around the UK who want to focus on exploring what it means for artists to make change.

What is a peer learning group?

Peer learning is an effective way for individuals to come together to learn new things through processes of questioning, exploring, information gathering, discussion, discovery & sharing of findings. Peer learning groups replace the need for authoritative outsiders to ‘lead’ a process of learning in favour of learners sharing their own experiences, insights and new knowledge.

This type of collaborative learning allows people to challenge their own ideas and the ideas of others - which is an excellent way to learn and grow. By sharing thoughts, struggles, concerns, ideas, criticisms and support, peer learners can push their research and understanding further than they may have been able to do solo.

For Artists Make Change, we have prepared some suggested content for peer learning groups to watch, read, listen to and use as the basis of discussion. Each peer learning group can structure their sessions and their learning in a way that suits them. You can also choose the frequency that works best for your group - you might do your activities weekly, bi-weekly or monthly (having some regularity really helps!!) for an agreed number of weeks or months.

What kind of activities could we do to learn together as a peer learning group?

You might like to use one or more of the following formats (or suggest / develop your own):

– Watching / Reading / Book Groups - where all members agree to watch or read a particular video, article, online resource, book or other text by a specific date & time. The group then meets for an online or face-to-face discussion of the text - making sense of the main points and what they are learning together. This can be a useful way to keep each other accountable - by making agreements to engage with specific learning resources by a specific date, and each contributing to discussion.

– Learning Lunches - everyone in the peer learning group arranges to get together on a certain (regular) day to have lunch together (either face-to-face or online). During lunch, one person presents on a topic of interest (on a rota basis) that fits within the remit & focus of the group. This way each person in the group has an opportunity to focus on parts of the topic that really resonate with or interest them, and everyone else benefits from their learning. The process of preparing to present what you have learned is a really valuable part of the learning experience too.

– Make & Share a Self Directed Learning Plan - everyone in the peer learning group is likely to have their own goals for being part of it. Understanding your own motivations and what you’d like to get out of your learning time is an important step in any peer learning process. You could follow this 5 Step Plan as a group or solo activity and share your results with each other. Buddying up with someone else in the peer learning group is also a useful way to commit to learning new things together, or alongside each other – agreeing to check-in with each other regularly, to hold each other accountable and share what you are learning with each other and the rest of the group.

– Researching Case Studies - researching someone else’s work as a case study is an excellent way to learn. Perhaps you know of / can think of a great example of an individual or group who have achieved change through their actions. How did they do this? What was involved? What inspired them? Who did they work with to make things happen? What did they have to learn along the way? Try different ways of finding out the information you are curious about - maybe the person / group have written or spoken about their experiences? Maybe others have recorded it in some way, or made an analysis of what happened? Maybe you can arrange to chat with the people involved and find out more details?

– Think-Pair-Share - this is a very common teaching and training technique that might feel pretty familiar to lots of people. In your group, ask each person to think individually about a topic or answer to a specific question - it may be useful to make notes / diagrams / drawings of these ideas. Then, pair with a partner and discuss the topic or question - make some notes / diagrams / drawings of these ideas together. Finally, each pair shares ideas with the rest of the group. This helps peer learners to develop conceptual understanding of a topic, develop their ability to filter information and draw conclusions, and develop the ability to consider other points of view.

– The Jigsaw Technique - in your peer learning group, identify different subtopics that feel important to understanding a larger topic. Get into a few smaller groups and each take on a different set of information to research and/or share ideas about. After having some time to think and learn about the subtopic, come together again with the other smaller groups to "piece together" a clear picture of the topic at hand together (like the piecing-together that happens when you make a jigsaw). Finding links between each other’s research areas is a great way to learn collaboratively and understand a wide topic more quickly by working as a group.

How many people do we need to get together to form a Peer Learning Group?

Establishing a group of between 5 - 20 people who would like to be involved in learning more about how artists make change is probably a good start. You won’t always have 100% attendance at your group sessions, as people have different things come up in their daily lives - this is OK and people will find their own ways to catch up or feed in to the group even if they can’t make every session or take part in every activity.

Groups work best when they are diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity, race, age, life experiences and ability. However, there may be times when it is more effective to bring together people who share particular lived experiences to explore the topics around change-making from a particular (shared) perspective.

What can the Artists Make Change project do to support Peer Learning Groups?

Take a look through the content we have produced so far on the Artists Make Change website. Here you’ll find a range of different Commissioned Texts, Case Studies, notes from Group Discussions, commissioned Conversations videos, and an extensive Resource List. Our upcoming Ask The Artist videos will also be added here soon.

We’re offering these resources as a starting point for your Peer Learning Group’s activities and investigations, but we know that groups will want to take their learning in their own directions.


During Autumn/Winter 2020, we are also offering some one-off Peer Learning Group bursaries.

We have FIVE x Peer Learning Group bursaries of £400 per group. Peer Learning Groups can use these bursaries in any ways they wish to support their learning. This might include things like:

- Paying one or more members of the group for a few hours a month to look after the coordination of the group, or time to collate a report on the group’s activities.

- Costs involved with hosting the group - eg online video chat subscriptions, costs to help with group members’ access needs or other costs of meeting up (either face-to-face or online)

- Other types of facilitation costs - including inviting a speaker or facilitator to work with your group, costs for materials for activities or research etc.

Artists Make Change co-leads Glen Stoker & Rachel Dobbs will also be on hand to offer the bursary supported groups support via:

- Being available as an external check-in point for support and advisory if you are coming across any issues in your group.

- Suggestions on which of the Artists Make Change resources to investigate as a group & helping to shape your own learning itinerary.

In exchange for the Peer Learning Group bursary, we’d like each supported Peer Learning Group to report back in some way - via a member’s blog on a-n - that speaks about what the focus of the group’s discussions have been, what learning has happened, and where the group's interests have taken them. This could include a mix of text, images, links, drawings, audio, video etc - it’s up to you how you’d like to share your activities!

For full info on how to apply for a bursary - click HERE