Salty Measures: community engagement

Project: Research

Project Details

Description


Overview

IMT gallery in Tower Hamlets has been on Cambridge Heath Road for 18 years. Working and responding to a precarious funding climate, the director requires support to develop more sustainable models of artist development and wider community engagement. Academics at Teesside led by Dr Paul Stewart, Professor Sarah Perks, and Charlotte Nicol worked with the director through live programming and discussion to achieve two outcomes; 1) prototyping workshop structures and activities to generate wider audience and income, 2) inhabit the organisations delivery models and workings to produce a strategy evidenced through experiential engagement rather than traditional consultation processes. Using their research and expertise in the creative industries towards sector change, Stewart's work over the past 15 years specifically in gallery and engagement programme towards wider impact on social inclusion alongside Prof Perks work on widening participation and culture/artist-led spaces, as well as Charlotte Nichols expertise in enterprise engagement across the cultural sector, as a team we are well placed to situate the impact engagement of this activity.

The workshop series ran four events with international artists, Hamja Ashan, Sophie Chapman and a workshop led through the expertise of Prof Perks all of which aimed to invest time in making new work with communities. Each event sold out at 15 tickets (10 charged and 5 free for residents in Tower Hamlets facing social economic barriers). It demonstrated appetite for paid for workshops in the area and 40% of attendees hadn't been to the gallery previously. Following the workshop series, a two-day intensive with the director and research team was held to produce a 6-month funding strategy which has led to two bids in process and a full copyedit and overhaul of the websites text and language to position the gallery correctly.



The workshops


The workshop series, titled Salty Measures, was developed to embody the ethos of IMT, a series curated by Paul Stewart and Sarah Perks that plunge into the pleasures and depths of art-making. The inaugural season showcases the talents of Hamja Ahsan, Sophie Chapman, and Sarah Perks. Each workshop in this series offers a unique approach to engaging with art, whether through embodied experiences, delightful encounters, or shared narratives. These experiences involved collaborative art-making, and each participant will depart with a keepsake from their journey, whether it's a self-recorded EP, a concept for a fried chicken franchise, or a profound meditation that unveils a non-human connection.

Workshops can be found here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/cc/salty-measures-inaugural-season-2732199

Layman's description

A series of workshops curated by Paul Stewart and Sarah Perks that plunge into the pleasures and depths of art-making. Our inaugural season showcases the talents of Hamja Ahsan, Sophie Chapman, and Sarah Perks. Each workshop in this series offers a unique approach to engaging with art, whether through embodied experiences, delightful encounters, or shared narratives.

These experiences will involve collaborative art-making, and each participant will depart with a keepsake from their journey, whether it's a self-recorded EP, a concept for a fried chicken franchise, or a profound meditation that unveils a non-human connection.

Key findings

The project had two core focuses:
through the development of a Sustainable model towards sector change with the directors and wider stakeholders, community members and artists, develop a framework for organizational change,
and to pilot and establish a novel workshop programme to develop new points of engagement with new audiences and increase reach of arts and cultural activity into the area of Tower Hamlets.


Impact Outcomes
Process of engagement by artists with local communities, extending knowledge exchange via workshops and widening participation for non-art native audiences and return visitors.
Contribution of value of the gallery which has been achieved through the deeper collective work and repositioning of the funding strategy.
Sustainable – developing bespoke funding and curation strategies for small independent galleries that can now be applied to benefit across the sector and for all indie, community-led and artist-led organisations.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date2/10/2329/06/24

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