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Visual Arts in Bristol, What Future do we Want? An Open Space Event.

This open space discussion is taking place on Monday 16 September. Tickets are no longer available, but Visual Arts South West will be Storifying the event throughout the day for those not in attendance. We encourage you to get involved in the conversation using #visartsbristol.


  1. 17:00

    One outcome of the day is to develop an art map for the city. A printed or downloadable map like the South London Art Map, or an app that could take visitors around the city to the different spaces and events.

    Situations will take a lead on developing this as it has come up in several discussions throughout the day.

    The event is now drawing to a close. We hope you've enjoyed our coverage on VASW.

  2. 16:11
    This session discussed the need for a communal space or hub for artists and freelancers to work.

    This group tested the desire for a shared working space with social area that could be a drop in hub where people could go to work. Informality of the space would be good but it can also create a certain hesitance in terms of participation; a mixture of formal and informal elements. We need to think of creative ways for disseminating our research and work and having a shared space would create possibilities for peer exchange through informal discussions and formally organised events like presentations and critiques.

    Peer exchange: Is this the job of studio complexes? Would a working hub duplicate what already exists? All studio complexes are different; they have different histories, dynamics and cultures. Other arts professionals and freelancers are not usually based in studios so there isn’t always a good cross section of disciplines. They can play a role in peer critique and development. But you can also feel isolated in a studio.

    You can read Megan Wakefield's blog about the session on the link below.

  3. I just attended a small but constructive session on Arts Funding.
    It’s good to know the circumstances in which you’re applying; what’s the landscape for that particular funding and what are the chances of success? Speak to funders first, because they can tell you what your chances are... they may already be funding similar projects in the city.

    Is there an appetite for private sponsorship, philanthropy etc in Bristol? We should meet with each other and potential funders to share what we are doing with each other as a starting point.

    Training advice and updates on funding applications are needed. A twitter feed for the latest funding opportunities would be useful using a shared hashtag. We could have a funding section on our VASW monthly newsletter. VASW facilitate a network and we need organisations and artists to contribute content, including funding opportunities for us to promote. Email them to

    There is a narrative at the moment about visual arts having to prove its economic merit. We should reject this argument. If we accept this narrative then we allow it to frame the debate. But the value of art doesn’t lie in economics.

  4. Visit Megan Wakefield's blog by clicking the link below, for the latest on the sessions she's attended: Someone suggested that Bristol is advanced in terms of student provision, but bad at communicating that. There was some comparison between more centralised cities such as Glasgow and Sheffield and Bristol. Yes, it’s compartmentalised in terms of scenes here, but that’s also a good thing in that it makes it more vibrant – different scenes can co-exist and there are always surprises. Power is also decentralised. Most important thing  that emerged was around communication. The artist-led group Lacuna Crux had been seeking support from knowledgable individuals but not so much from the institutions in the city. They acknowledged that people are busy and received advice to be “persistent, polite, patient”.