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. 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.

In September, 2020 we selected 6 applications from an Open Call for artists, groups and collectives to form discussion groups to discuss the subject of artists making change. Each group received a small group bursary.

Each of the 6 groups presented below will be meeting throughout the end of 2020 and will be then uploading a report of their findings here and via a-n's blog platform.



Group members - Lydia Julien Beverley Bennett Shelley Rae

A-N Blog Link

We are a peer group of artists that havent met together for nearly a decade. We have all worked individually on our practices and felt the pressures of production, coping with a range of barriers.

These challenges might have ranged from loss, illness, drastic personal change, caring responsibilities and chronic illness.

During this time of Covid, protest, racialised trauma,there is also the shared feeling of isolation and not having access to their particular services and other importantly artists.
Coming together in the shared space of a peer learning group empowers a process of recognition and a chance to talk (and let down) the protective systems we may have enabled in our videos and speech.

The title of the group signifies reflection, thought, pondering. The act itself of reflection in this peer group is a highly politicised action, free from the outcome of production, labour yet the freedom to make ephemeral, temporal transmission between us, learning through the exchange.


Group Members - Rabbit's Road Press (London) Granby Press (Liverpool) Tender Hands Press (Glasgow)

A-N Blog Link

We are keen to share best practice about how we can create sustainable art worlds and maintain access to printing resources and broaden that access. We hope to strengthen solidarities of 3 working-class, POC lead presses across England, to be at the forefront of Riso printing practices, both in terms of our own work and the work that our presses generate/support.

We want to keep the spirit of radical publishing alive through collaboration and creation of free resources. Through coming together, we aim to learn from each other and extend our knowledge and resources in a way that can support people/artists to have more control over their practice when it comes to printing work.

@rabbitsroadpress @tenderhandspress @granbyress

ART/ACTIVISM: The Peer-led Research Group

A-N Blog Link

We are a group of artists, curators and arts educators, where the majority are members of Young Blood Initiative, an international community of artists that aims to explore other ways to create and collaborate. The members are currently undertaking an unfunded project that examines art’s relationship with activism. Therefore holding this study group is very timely and will allow us to expand and deepen our current research. Although most of us have exhibited together, we have been an ad hoc group who have not had the opportunity to reap the benefits of meeting regularly as a peer group so we are very excited about learning together.

Through this study period we aim to explore our role as artists in society outside of commerce and the changes we want to make; increase our understanding and application of inclusive practices and accessibility; expand our approaches to facilitation, support and skill sharing within a group; and understand how different cultures reflect different attitudes and approaches towards activism. Most importantly, we aim to discover how to apply what we learn into our own practices in a sustainable way.

How to apply the Teal paradigm & Donut Economic Thinking to an Artists' Network and Beyond

A-N Blog Link

Inspired by Frederic Laloux's 'Reinventing Organisations' and Kate Raworth's 'Donut Economy', Bristol Artist-Led Forum is interested in exploring new ways for an artists network (and beyond) to thrive based upon new organisational and economic paradigms.

Teal Organisation & Donut Economy are our starting point to look into different models of organisation which is 'self-organization and self-management as an independent force with its own purpose, and not merely as a vehicle for achieving management's objectives' - Frederic Laloux, and a 'new economic model that is regeneration & distributive by design' - Kate Raworth, as referred to as the next stage in the evolution of human consciousness.

The 21st century is providing us with an unprecedented opportunity to change the neo-liberal status-quo of exponential growth, and instead put 'creativity, participation, belonging & meaning [as] the thriving force of human development in dynamic balance with our planet - Kate Raworth

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 - AirSpaceGallery, Artists Make Change

It's gonna take all the ingenuity we have got to get there. So bring it on! - Kate Raworth


A-N Blog Link

Our Group is for people who are interested in Art with People- connecting through, and for, art and social change and based in/with a strong connection to Tyne &Wear (ish). We'll be meeting and connecting via monthly walking and talking gatherings in locations around Tyne &Wear. With contingency for meeting via video conferencing, depending on local lock downs & feelings of the group and a Facebook group / WhatsApp group / phone tree / shared mine craft world / whatever connecting technique(s) suit the group best, so we can communicate and provide mutual support in between more formal get togethers

We want to facilitate discussions and actions which:

– Build “Us-ness”- mutual support, collective identity and shared change-growing energy, for people who are interested in the social functions of creativity
– Discover /spark tools for “doing” social practice in a socially distanced world
– Ask what can we share and, what, collectively, are we prepared to give up, in order to change the ways we live and work, growing more care- filled, accessible, ecologically sustainable ways of making and existing


A-N Blog Link

What does it mean to drop out? The topic of dropping out is very timely, with many of us falling out of our usual patterns of life, work and health. Is there a space that has opened up to consider what can be learned from dropping outside of the mainstream, the ‘normal’ or the expected without romanticising a situation that has pushed many to the brink? For artists who ‘make change’ who are often working with a practice of participation, instead the question of what it means not to participate or to participate differently becomes more relevant. If dropping out is a choice, then can it be seen as a radical method of change-making? If dropping out is a decision forced upon us, then how can mutual support allow us to thrive none-the-less?