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1. IMPACT SUMMARY...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 3
2. INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 5
3. EVALUATION APPROACH ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 6
4. PARTNERSHIP TIMELINE .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 7
5. STORY OF CHANGE SUMMARY .................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 8
6. NEED .......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 10
7. OBJECTIVES ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 10
8. RESOURCES ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 11
9. ACTIVITY..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 12
10. OUTPUTS .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 21
11. OUTCOMES .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 22
12. ARTIST CASE STUDIES ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 28
13. CAUSALITY, ATTRIBUTION, ADDITIONALITY & DISPLACEMENT ............................................................................................................................................................... 36

COVER PAGE IMAGES: Clockwise from top left.

1. For the Love of Labour – Photo: Gina Mollett
2. Arts & Health – Photo: Katharine Lazenby
3. Socially Engaged Art Fair – Stalls. Photo: Rachel Dunford
4. No Shortlists - artist Amy Pennington, residency at Heritage Envelopes from Arts in Manufacturing as part of The Festival of Making. Photo: Daniel Allison
5. Socially Engaged Art Fair - Long Table Debate. Photo: Rachel Dunford
6. No Shortlists – 'Love in Social Practice' film still: Elsa James
7. (Centre) The Developer’s Dinner – Live Scribing Illustration by Jimmy Rogers. Photo – Amahra Spence

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The partnership between Manchester Metropolitan University and Axisweb since 2015 has
• Directly involved at least 35,785 engagements – audiences, participants, attendees etc
• Involved 175 arts stakeholders as advisors, stakeholders, peers and lived experience experts in the development of its partnership activity
• Directly led to over 100 tangible outputs such as zines, published articles, events, films, sketches, action plans etc
• Created 39 artist commissions
• Invested in a minimum of 16 long and short published articles, 8 commissioned blog posts, 4 artist led get-togethers, 2 artist led workshops with
commissioners, 2 videos, 1 new journal, 1 sector sharing event, and 1 video playlist
• Lead to 3 major research reports
• Significantly contributed to the ongoing financial development of a national arts network with culture change, new business model, strategies and new
revenue stream, with £45K grant capture directly attributable to the partnership in the six months following its completion
• Helped increase Axisweb membership three-fold and develop a new, more open and inclusive membership offer
• Worked with artists from mid-Scotland to the South coast of England

Through their involvement with the partnership, socially engaged artists have:
• Experienced a much wider range of benefits from their Axisweb membership which has led to wider industry outcomes such as a higher profile, quality
assurance for grant applications, exhibitions selection, studio space and more
• Formed new connections with other artists, practitioners and commissioners
• Seen themselves as part of something bigger, more joined up, and been less isolated
• Gained fresh perspectives and new ideas for their art and wellbeing by sharing information, examples and practice
• Benefitted from increased confidence which for some, has led to further commissions
• Felt validated, recognised, valued, visible and credible
• Been able to put ideas into action and join new networks and forums to continue the conversations and activity
• Increased their knowledge and awareness of commissioners, ethical considerations, and a wider understanding of the socially engaged arts sector

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Through all of this

• Axisweb have been able to attract further funding to develop a new online support and sharing portal for socially engaged artists to keep building on these

Artist commissions have led to other follow-on impacts which would not have happened otherwise:

• At least 12 additional artists commissions

• At least 9500 additional engagements with audiences, participants, attendees etc
• Created a further 1978 outputs, minimum. These include sketches, films, zines, forums, events, networks and more.
• Generated a minimum of £32,500 funds in the form of commissions, grants and crowdfunding

If these secondary outputs were averaged over the 9 artists interviewed, scaled up across all 39 artists commissioned, then added to the commissions coming
directly from the partnership, this would create a total impact of:

• 86 artists commissions
• Over 77,000 engagements (audiences, participants etc)
• Over 8600 tangible outputs (zines, events, artworks etc)
• Over £180,000 generated income

Sally Fort | | September 2020 4


Manchester Met & Axisweb was a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) led by Professor Amanda Ravetz from Manchester Met, in partnership with Axisweb. It was
funded by Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) initiative, underpinned by support in kind from Manchester Met, with additional investment from
Axisweb and Arts Council England.

In 2015, Mark Smith, Director of Axisweb commissioned Amanda to identify how best Axisweb could support the needs of artists working in the field of socially
engaged practice. This type of practice was becoming more and more present in the work of Axisweb members, and in the content being posted by artists on the
Axisweb site. However it was not something Axisweb had provided specific support for previously.

The results of that research led to the Validation Beyond the Gallery report, outlining the issues in the proper understanding and recognition of artistic practice that
happens outside of a gallery context.

Based on these findings, Manchester Met and Axisweb successfully applied to Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership funding. With this investment, they
jointly delivered a new programme exploring how some of these issues could be addressed, by working with artists and other sector professionals to test out new
approaches. The programme included organisational and research development for the partners; advisory consultation with arts sector peers, stakeholder
consultation with a large group of artist advocates; a series of artist’s commissions to lead workshops and get togethers, undertake arts practice commissions, and
submit critical writing for a new journal. The programme was further supplemented by awareness raising activity in the form of sector events and online activity.

Socially engaged artist (SEA) and socially engaged arts practice are used throughout the report for convenience. In practice, artists working outside of galleries with
the public are recognised as having a wide range of practice and preferred terms for their work. In all research, this was explicitly explained during data collection to
ensure artists understood what they were being asked about and could use their own frames of reference.

KTP is used to refer to the Knowledge Transfer Partnership between Amanda Ravetz and colleagues at Manchester Metropolitan University, and Mark Smith,
Director of Axisweb. It is used in this report as a catch-all term to include the artists and practitioners involved throughout the partnership.

Sally Fort | | September 2020 5

The evaluation was commissioned to find out from artists, what impact the partnership created or contributed towards for them and their practice. It should be
noted this is not a process evaluation and therefore does not include comment on what worked well and why, or what the challenges were and how these were
addressed. This is because the process was well documented and analysed within the research work itself and is available in the reports Validation Beyond the
Gallery (2015) and From Network to Meshwork (2020).
The evaluation began with interviews with Professor Amanda Ravetz, Lead Researcher at Manchester Metropolitan University and Mark Smith, Director of Axisweb,
to understand the context and aims of their work. From this, desk research took place, analysing the research reports, funding applications, funding activity reports
and information about the partnership and programme on the Axisweb website. This helped create an understanding about the programme, artists and activity. All
commissioned artists were then invited to feedback about the commissions and impact on their practice and the wider sector. A second phase of artist research
followed, inviting feedback from all Axisweb members and anyone who attended or took part in commissioned activity as participants. This approach was created to
1. Present a story of change clarifying the impact of the programme on artists, and how this happened. (Akin to a theory of change but actual rather than
2. Understand attribution - how much of the impact occurred specifically due to this partnership (versus what could have happened anyway)

• 116 Social Media items: Twitter - 31 comments and 5 photos by 17 contributors. Facebook – Gallery of 54 photos. Vimeo / YouTube – 9 videos
• 37 Artist feedback forms – Artists Get Together events
• 34 Surveys: 32 Axisweb member surveys; 2 Get Together attendee surveys
• 24 Commissioned articles: 16 – Social Works? Open (journal); 6 event reviews
• 10 Interviews (alphabetical by surname): Sadie Edgington (Artist - No Shortlists workshop participant); Elsa James (Artist - No Shortlists workshop participant);
Sally Lemsford (Artist – Get Together commission; Stakeholder Group); Les Monaghan (Artist – Artist’s commission); Kerry Morrison (Artist - Writing
commission); Amy Pennington (Artist - No Shortlists workshop participant); Daniel Regan (Artist – Get Together commission); Amanda Ravetz (MANCHESTER
MET); Mark Smith (Axisweb); Joshua Sofaer (Artist - Commissioned workshop)
• 4 Consultation, documentation and funder documents: Models of Validation Stakeholder Report; Knowledge Transfer Partnership Final Report Form
• Manchester Metropolitan University Impact Funding Award form; Knowledge Exchange Award Form
• 3 research reports: Validation Beyond the Gallery; Models of Validation; From Network to Meshwork
• 2 additional documents: Festival of Making Evaluation Report 2019; SEAFAIR Stats document
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2015 2016
2014-15 Validation Beyond the Gallery Manchester Met/Axisweb
Axisweb commissions report identifies 8 key findings receive InnovateUK
Axisweb recognises new need
Amanda Ravetz to research and recommends artist-led Knowledge Transfer
for its membership.
further. activity to shape future Partnerhip funding to develop
Axisweb support. partnership programme.

Stakeholder Group created 2018
2017 Commissioning and sector
and consulted with for in- Further funding secured from
Advisory Group is assembled awareness project is
depth understanding of artist Arts Council England and
for early consultation. conceived with 4 strands to
working context. 5 key Manchester Met.
address the 5 barriers.
barriers identified.

2018-19 2020 2020

Activity programme of Final research report From Axisweb successfully applies for
publications, workshops, get Network to Meshwork is funding from Arts Council
togethers, sector sharing events produced summing up the England to develop new online
and online calls to action and results of the action research portal for supporting artists in
reportage take place. project. this area of practice.

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• Explore specific areas of • c£165k investment • Partner meetings

New support for practice
artists and • Manchester Met support in kind: • Staff recruited
commissioners in • Combat artists' isolation infrastructure • Advisory & Stakeholder group
how best to develop, • Provide platform for artists' • c1 year total contribution of consultation
sustain and recognise critical writing and debate working days - Axisweb Director • Academic research
good socially engaged • Provide opportunity for • c 14 days advisory group • Journal with commissioned
arts practice. informal conversations between contribution writing
stakeholders • Approx 10 venues support in kind • Artist led workshop
for events commissions
• Artist-led development as a key • Artist led Get Together
value commissions
• Arts sector events
• Online activity

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9 progress meetings Organisation stabilised Exhibition selection Validation
6 staff trained Membership tripled More connected Raised profile
3 research reports Bursaries More confident
100% earned revenue
KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER PARTNERSHIP 1 full time post created 63% of members benefitted
New perspectives More informed
Feeling part of something bigger
1 external organisation 59% achieved follow-on Better resourced: insurance / studio
stabilised outcomes space / online portfolio
45k follow-on funding Commissions / sales / grants

1 advisory consultation day

14 advisory group members
CONSULTATION GROUPS 161 stakeholder group members Artist-led programme development
80 stakeholder group surveys
40 stakeholder group research interviews

2 events More connected New perspectives

2 artists commissioned Wider sector understanding New skills
WORKSHOPS 3 artist sub-commissioned More confident / positive Validation
2 artist blogs Income generation New areas of practice
41 (min) artists / commissioner participants Better knowledge of commissioners

16 artists commissioned More confident / positive

JOURNAL (incl. long / short works + 1 artists commission Income generation
400 hard copies distributed (incl 350 sold) Validation
(including artist’s commission) 1400+ read online New areas of practice
450+ downloaded Increased wellbeing
More connected New perspectives
4 events New ideas Less Isolated
6 artist facilitators commissioned More confident / positive Validation
GET- TOGETHERS 12 works created (artworks, action plans etc) Better ethical awareness New areas of practice
84 (min) artist participants Wider sector understanding Income generation
Better knowledge of commissioners
2 events
491 attendees
SECTOR EVENTS 10 bursaries
2 micro-commissions

32.5k (min) visits / hits

19 Awareness raising posts
6 articles commissioned
2 videos and 1 video playlist broadcast

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Mark Smith, Director of Axisweb explains,

“When I first became Executive Director in 2015, that same year we started looking at social art practice and the lack of visibility. It was an awareness
that things were changing – the kinds of practice that was being represented by artists on the Axisweb website and an awareness through our trustees
that there seemed to be a groundswell of funding towards social art practice. So we thought, ‘what does this mean for artists?’ We thought it was worth
pursuing, so we commissioned Amanda to do some research which was covered in Validation Beyond the Gallery report.”

The culmination research report From Network to Meshwork clarifies,

“Through the interviews and surveys, we identified five interlocking issues facing social practice artists:
- difficulty articulating social practice, including creating definitions and negotiating roles and values
- unrealistic / unreasonable expectations from project partners (e.g. commissioners, participants, members of the public)
- lack of support and infrastructure for social projects
- perceived second class status of social practice in the art world
- uncertainty about the validation process aka ‘validation gap’ (how artists receive acknowledgment from appropriate networks).”

Having identified these needs, the Manchester Met research team and Axisweb, with input from the stakeholder group, developed four themes to help address the
barriers listed above. Each theme would then provide a framework to develop activity and commission artist involvement.

a. To provide a platform for social practice artists’ critical writing and debate
b. To combat isolation
c. To explore specific issues
d. To create opportunities for informal conversations between the wider stakeholder group through a festival of social art

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Following the 2015 commission, Mark and Amanda secured:


• c£94k funding from Innovate UK to create the artist-led action research project, levered by the in-kind infrastructural investment by Manchester Met
• c£46.3K invested by Axisweb
• £15k from Arts Council England
• £10k from Manchester Met


• Axisweb – approximately one year of Mark Smith’s full-time capacity was given to the partnership, over the course of the partnership
• Manchester Met – the university provided infrastructure such as administration and finance staff, time and systems as well as business advice and room space
• Advisory group – 14 arts professionals with expertise in socially engaged arts practice each gave around 1 day of time to the early stages, with most covering
expenses from within their own organisation
• Event space – Many venues provided event space for free including Manchester Metropolitan University, Primary, WI Bridport, Free Space Project Kentish Town
Health Centre and Kinning Park Complex, Glasgow.


The guiding values and principles invested into the programme were taken from the initial Validation Beyond the Gallery research. These were set out in the final
paragraph of the report, and artists interviewed for the evaluation echoed that these had indeed been tangible and vital to the programme:

“… the diverse values artists bring to their work in this field must be carefully listened to and taken account of if there is to be a rethinking of systems of
validation for those working outside of the gallery system. Any new provision should be artist-led and / or developed in close consultation with artists who
have achieved a range of different kinds of validation already. Without this, artists could be disenfranchised through external values being imposed upon
them in ‘top down’ regulatory ways. This in turn might undermine the existing quality and nature of artists’ work occurring within the broad category of
Validation Beyond the Gallery, p17
socially-engaged / non-gallery art.”

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The partnership was led by Professor Amanda Ravetz (Manchester Met), Mark Smith (Axisweb) and Knowledge
Supervisor / Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Manager, the late David Woollard (Manchester Met). This leadership
team held regular meetings amounting to nine sessions for professional practice, business development and research

The KTP cemented working relationships between partners, enabling Axisweb to apply academic rigour to planning
processes and use research to directly benefit the company, its artist members and the field of socially engaged practice.
Manchester Met pioneered a KTP benefitting the visual arts, building extra research capacity. The partnership extended
connectivity between partners, academics and stakeholders, enabling Axisweb to build a new internal culture, and
Manchester Met to increase trust with small to medium arts organisations, commissioners, funders and other
stakeholders. The researchers and KTP team brought rigorous research methodologies and business development to
Axisweb, leading on a more coordinated, evidence-based approach to the development and delivery of programmes with
greater consideration given to social engaged practice. Axisweb brought new expertise to Manchester Met on digital
working in the visual arts, stakeholder networking, and the operation of a market-focused business model for non-public
subsidy charitable arts.

In addition to the business development and shared expertise of each, the KTP enabled a new full-time associate post.
Originally planned as a full-time two-year post, staff changeover part way through meant that two people each worked
one full time year consecutively. Their role was focussed on delivery and detailed development, co-ordination,
programming and communications.

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1. Validation Beyond the Gallery by Amanda Ravetz and Lucy Wright is the research report completed in 2015 which led to the full-scale partnership. It sets out the
challenges in recognising and supporting artists operating outside of a gallery context.

2. Models of Validation Stakeholder Report was a progress report summarising the first wave of research as a baseline for the circumstances socially engaged artists
worked in; and influenced a commissioned programme of artist led work to critically debate the field, reduce artist isolation, widen the conversations and explore
specific artist-commissioner challenges.

3. From Network to Meshwork is the final research report of this stage of the partnership. Written once again by Amanda Ravetz and Lucy Wright it outlines the full
approach, programme, the challenges and strengths discovered, conclusions about the recognition and support for socially engaged artists, and recommendations for
the future.

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1. ADVISORY GROUP: An advisory group of 14 commissioners with an interest in socially engaged

practice met to discuss some of the challenges and opportunities, and help the partnership set
its course for the next stage.

2. STAKEHOLDER FORUM: Consultation with a small number of commissioners from other

relevant arts organisations expanded on the thoughts of the advisory group and partnership
team. They recommended other potential stakeholders and in this snowballing way, the
stakeholder group eventually grew to over 160 members, active in different ways and to
different extents. Stakeholders responded to a formal consultation stage, taking part in in-
depth interviews, responding to surveys, and acting as a sounding board for programme and
research development.

Advisory Group Consultation

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To address the need for ‘a platform for
social practice artists’ critical writing and
debate’ a new journal was created. Social
Works? Open was the first UK-based journal
issue dedicated to socially engaged art
practice, with support from Arts Council
England, Heart of Glass, Peckham Platform
and Manchester School of Art.

The publication included contributions from

Jen Delos Reyes, Kerry Morrison, R.M.
Sánchez-Camus, Claire Mead, They Are Here,
Harvey Diamond, Lauren Velvick, Les
Monaghan and Joe Cotgrave. In total the
journal included commissions for 9 long
articles and 7 short pieces. 400 hard copies
were printed, and a pdf made available via
the Axisweb website.

Journal Cover, Social Works? Open, Issue 1

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To address the need to ‘explore specific artists-commissioner issues’ two artist-led workshops were commissioned.

A workshop devised and facilitated by Joshua Sofaer at a sheltered housing extra care centre in London where his
community studio is located. No Shortlists aimed to flatten the hierarchy of the commissioning process in which
artists ‘are expected to guess’ what commissioners want, and usually spend large amounts of unpaid time
developing ideas and proposals, almost always with no guarantee of work as a result. In this workshop, four
commissioners came with a small commissioning budget already committed and were randomly paired with four
No Shortlists Workshop. Illustration - Sadie Edgington
artists nominated to attend the workshop. The workshop time was spent sharing practice and starting from a
position of trust on both sides, with presentations, discussions about budgets, and the start of conversations about
ways the pairings might collaborate.


An event, devised and produced by Amahra Spence of Maia Group, bringing artists together with planners,
architects and developers to explore challenges, find common ground and share ideas about regeneration. As
guests shared dinner, they were supported by prompt cards with critical questions for conversations, such as “How
might we help people from being displaced in the process of regeneration?” and “How might beauty be extended
as a basic service across the whole city?” The event was held at The Impact Hub, a shared space for people who
explore radical and creative ways to uplift community in the city of Birmingham.

The Developer's Dinner. Photo - Siana Bangura

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A day long symposium for artists interested in arts and health (be it other people’s or their
own) held by Daniel Regan, at Free Space which supports arts and community activity from
within a health centre in London. Though the day included presentations by four artists, it
was intended more as a collaborative, sharing and peer supportive space which also included
facilitated networking activity and a series of micro workshops focusing on getting funding,
troubleshooting projects, starting out, building connections etc.

Arts & Health. Photo - Katharine Lazenby


An afternoon of jointly preparing food and using it to explore, map, measure and describe
what the business of being a socially engaged artist looks and feels like as the question is
asked, “What does the Culture of Work in Social Practice say about how we value each other
and the Labour performed - paid, unpaid and emotional?” The event was organised by Priya
Mistry with Gina Mollett and Rebecca Beinart. It was held at the artist-led visual art space
Primary in Nottingham.

For the Love of Labour. Photo: Gina Mollett

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A workshop produced by Alex Wilde, held at Kinning Park Complex – a mixed use
community building in Glasgow. Alex invited artists to discuss the temporary, transient
and often unstable nature of working as a socially engaged artist. As well as presentations
about two projects in particular, the group shared tools and philosophies for improving
their situations, which were all collected in a zine to support self-reflection going forward.

A Balancing Act. Zine Extract – Josie Vallely

A coming together facilitated by Sally Lemsford to hold stalls where conversations were
traded rather than goods. Each participant brought a stall – or activity / performance - to
prompt, provoke or experiment with ways to discuss what socially engaged art is and how
that translates in the context of the rural South West coast. The workshop gathered ideas
about how continued support could be developed for socially engaged artists in the area.
The event was held in Bridport’s Women’s’ Institute Hall.

Socially Engaged Art Fair. Photo: Rachel Dunford

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The launch the new Social Works? Open journal was hosted within the larger Social Arts
Summit in Sheffield, convened by the Social Art Network. As well as a drinks reception for
guests, a selection of artists gave readings from the journal.

Social Works? Open Launch at the Social Art Summit, Site Gallery
A socially engaged arts festival held at Manchester Metropolitan University to widen the
conversation and celebrate socially engaged practice. Artists were invited to propose a stall,
pitch, performance or other activity that engaged people in conversation. With the
completion of commissioned arts strands, the event was also an opportunity to test early
ideas about an online platform which might help with the lack of recognised validation for
socially engaged arts practice / practitioners; and to take the artist-led conversations and
findings from the partnership programme back to commissioners for comment and

Social Works? Live at Manchester Metropolitan University

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Artists attending the workshops and get-togethers were commissioned to report back with a blog post. The
reports took various formats, from personal starting points and learning, through collective zines created
collaboratively at the event, to illustrative sketches and wider essays on the theme of the event.
• No Shortlists: Sadie Edgington -
• Of the City, The Developer’s Dinner: Siana Bangura -
• Arts & Health: Katharine Lazenby -
• A Balancing Act: Josie Vallely -
• For the Love of Labour: Gina Mollett -
• Socially Engaged Arts Fair: Megan Dunford -


Axisweb provided a diligent, thorough social media presence throughout the partnership and commissioning
• Informational posts and commissioned reviews were published on Axisweb for each event
• Each opportunity to participate or be commissioned was posted on the Axisweb news stream at least once
• Events were documented live through twitter feeds and hashtag campaigns using #beyondthegallery
#modelsofvalidation #socialworks and #SWL19
• Photographers and film makers captured interviews, presentations and conversations with the results shared
via Axisweb, Vimeo and Facebook, as was a video playlist curated for the Social Works? Live event
• Research was shared on Axisweb including the three reports, and some early conversations with members of
the initial advisory group

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The partnership is known to have led to a minimum of: However the total estimate (explained below is):
✓ 51 artist commissions 86 artist commissions
✓ 45,343 engagements (audiences, participants, attendees etc) 77,203 engagements (audiences, participants, attendees etc)
✓ 2087 tangible outputs (e.g. zines, events, artworks etc) 8689 tangible outputs
✓ £79,586 income generated £188,219 income generated

For the sake of clarity, outputs in the Story of Change (Section 5) shows a simple count of evidenced outputs directly from commissioned activity alone. However,
overall totals are much higher because the limited evidence and commissioned activities only tell part of the story. A more detailed account is given below.

1. Direct outputs 2. Secondary 3. Average 4. Estimated 5. ESTIMATED

outputs secondary secondary TOTAL
OUTPUTS (9 artists) outputs / outputs (39 (1 + 4)
artist artists)
Artist commissions 39 12 1.3 47 86
Engagement – participants, attendees, audiences 35,785 9558 1062 41,418 77,203
Tangible Outputs 109 1978 220 8580 8689
Additional income generated – artists £32,586 £3621 £141,219 £188,219
Additional income generated – Axisweb (100%) £47,000

1. 100%* of the known outputs arising directly from the partnership programme. These would not have occurred otherwise. Except for the income generated by
Axisweb, for which 60%* is shown
2. 87%* of known follow-on outputs generated by commissioned artists - such as further commissions generated because of a meeting at a workshop; or funding
secured thanks to evidence generated at a get-together.
3. Column 2 divided by 9 – the number of artists interviewed, to calculate an average number per artists commissioned
4. Column 3 multiplied by 39 - the number of artists commissioned
5. The total number of known outputs from the commissioned programme + the number of secondary outputs estimated across all 36 commissioned artists
*See Section 3.2 - Causality, Attribution, Additionality & Displacement.
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✓ The impact of the KTP extends not just to socially engaged artist members of Axisweb, but across the board.
✓ Socially engaged artist members notice a significantly wider range of benefits from Axisweb than other members.
✓ Axisweb membership clearly leads onto wider industry outcomes for around two thirds of its members
✓ Get Togethers offered the widest range of outcomes and were especially successful in bringing artists together to form new connections, seeing themselves
as part of something bigger, and offering fresh perspectives by sharing information, examples, practice and the business of working in this field.
✓ Workshops were especially successful at helping increase artist’s confidence, leading to further commissions, feeling validated and coming away with new
professional connections.
✓ The journal had a significant impact on artists feeling validated. They felt being published gave them credibility. It also led to other commissions, new types
of practice, and provided breathing space to revisit or reflect on challenging subject matter.

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The survey was circulated to all 5000 members of Axisweb. Questions were written to ensure they were relevant to all artists to ensure the widest range of feedback.
However the sample size returned was small, so the results below should be taken only as an indication. For this reason statistics are not included, just general trends.

1Axisweb Membership Outcomes by Artist Type

Exhibition selection


Part of something bigger

More connected

Raised profile


More confident

More informed

Insurance SEA Artist

Commissions / sales / grant Not SEA Artist

Online portfolio Unsure

Studio space

New perspectives

Outcome Occurance

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• All types of artists benefitted Table 1 above: The number of Axisweb members who can identify 2Can you identify benefits from Axisweb membership
benefits of their membership over the last three years , is roughly the same as the number in past 3 years?

who say they are involved in socially engaged practice (though they may not call it this).

Closer analysis shows these benefits are spread across all types of members3, whether or

not they consider themselves socially engaged artists. Extrapolated example: IF the data is

reliably representative of all members the KTP would have had an impact on around 3150

artists at least.
Yes No Don't know

• Most socially engaged artists, and artists who are unsure if their work falls under socially

engaged practice, clearly understood the benefits they have had from Axisweb in recent
3Members working in socially engaged (or equivalent)
years (i.e. during the perid of the KTP) practice in recent years2

• These same artists could also identify an additional secondary layer of outcomes (i.e.

impact) these benefits led onto.

• Artists who said their works is not part of socially engaged practice (or an equivalent term)

benefitted to a reasonably healthy extent, but not nearly as much as other artists.

• Extrapolated example: IF the data is reliably representative of all members the KTP would
Yes No Not sure
have had a significantly wide ranging impact on over 1700 socially engaged practitioners.

Sally Fort | | September 2020 24



“So good to hear that people so deeply consider the ethics and other considerations and not normal in my experience to talk about it in this way.”
“The information was very extensive and broad so I am certainly going to connect and research with some of the new things I've learnt about. I feel like a met a tribe I
feel rapport with. Today was validating and practical.”
“You have put a spring back in my step after recent health issues, I can't thank you enough”
“So many like-minded people - this has filled a big hole in my life
“I’d come to appreciate that not only was I not alone in struggling with such feelings but I also didn’t have to keep them hidden in order to stand a chance of being taken
seriously as an artist or professional.”
“The afternoon was packed full of useful information and practical advice”
“As advice was shared between people at very different stages in their career, coming from all kinds of backgrounds, the group of attendees became greater than the
sum of its parts. An exchange of resources, skills and knowledge such as this, without competition or hierarchy, without judgment of those who are less experienced or
knowledgeable than others, is rare. Judging by the buzz in the room, the event answered a real need.”


“I would never normally apply for that kind of work, but it was an opportunity to test something that would allow me to continue that strand of thought.”
“I'd just finished my MA and given myself 6 months to see what happened. It [the commission] kick-started that idea of being a freelance educator.”
“As a participatory artist, finding out - what is my research method? It's been such a learning curve. Eventually I concluded my research method - IS my practice. It's
starting to make sense how it all fits together. It has really placed me in this area of working as an artist researcher. I developed confidence in interviewing, using audio,
creating transcripts, logging interviews, and going into the gallery and talking to the public and different artists.”
“I ended up doing some more work as a researcher. I was doing all these audio interviews, and then my old tutor got in touch and I ended up interviewing about 10
people over zoom so it led into that are of work for me. I had the confidence and skills to be able to do that now. So yeah I can tell people I’m an artist researcher!”
“At the start I had an issue with the organisation - they say they're doing diversity, but I'd never really seen them really being inclusive of the diverseness of a community,
and in the back of my mind I wasn't sure I wanted to work with them because of that. But it was fine, I came away and had got to know them more. They immediately
loved my practice and it felt like I walked away with a YES! Feeling”
“If it wasn’t for this I don’t think I would have had that relationship with [commissioner]. I wouldn't have been on their radar. It's been a fast track.”
“When we were talking it didn't feel like an interview so that changed the atmosphere. It felt informal and relaxed, I could be honest. Where I normally check myself, here
I felt comfortable to disclose. I was able to share critical reflections on other projects and explain the benefits of particular institutional approaches for artists.”
“What happens when you put seemingly opposite people in the same room and create space, over some good food, for them to philosophise over the future of their city?
Turns out they all find out they share the same concerns and have ideas for solutions to the problems.”

Sally Fort | | September 2020 25


“It [journal article] struck a chord and I was invited to do a workshop around it at the social art summit in Sheffield. Then from that there was a woman
from Yorkshire Sculpture Park. She asked me to do the workshop again there for artists and stakeholders. Someone was there who then asked if I'd do it
again at their workshop in Leeds. From that they asked me to write a code of practice. Then I did a series of workshops which were also part of that.”
“I think that’s value in having books. More than other things because you can have a launch, short print run and sell out then you can print more which is
good. It felt like it was quality and at a level you’d want it to be at. It’s massively validating. There’s a lovely yellow book here and I’m in it. So that
validation from SocialWorks? was huge.”
“It was revisiting one small element of a previous project. But it turned out to be the thing I really wanted – to go back to this guy, so it allowed a bit of
continuation. Sometimes you hear these stories, you might need supervision or counselling after working with so many over so long. So it allowed me to
sustain that contact. The funding allowed me to revisit and have the breathing space to revisit.

Sally Fort | | September 2020 26

Increased wellbeing

This chart summarises the analysis of feedback given by artists in interviews, surveys,
New areas of practice
online documentation, feedback forms and in social media, where outcomes were
talked about in the artist’s own words on 107 occassions. These 107 comments were
coded (categorised) and listed according to whether they came from Get Togethers or
Workshops included commissioned artists and attendees. Outcomes for the journal New skills
relate specifically to artsts who were commissioned to create journal content. NOT
audiences of the journal. It is important to note that though the outcomes look far Income generation
fewer for the journal, that is influenced by there being far fewer artists involved with
the journal than workshops and get togethers, and only a small amount of evidence Part of something bigger (less isolated)

available to analyse about the impact the experiences had on these artists.
Better ethical awareness
Some outcomes look similar at first glance. Where this is the case, explanations are
provided below: Better knowledge of commissioners

1. Connections More confident/positive

• More connected – new professional connections made, better networked.
(Sector) Wider sector understanding
• Part of something bigger (less isolated) – an emotional outcome, relief on a
personal level. (Individual) New ideas

2. Inspiration
New perspectives
• New perspective – relating to concepts / philosophies / other points of view
More connected
• New ideas – relating to creative inspiration (Creative)
Outcomes 0
• New areas of practice – relating to new practical techniques or a new type of 5 10 15 20 25

collaborator / commissioner / sector to work with, potentially opening up new Occurance

avenues of work and income (Sector) Get Togethers Journal (incl artist's commission) Workshops

Sally Fort | | September 2020 27

Amy Pennington has been a socially engaged artist for over ten years. She is interested in tongue-in-cheek and satirical
Artist Led Workshop Participant – No
ways to look at power and status in society, and how to encourage conversations people wouldn’t necessarily find Shortlists
themselves in otherwise. Amy was nominated to take part in the No Shortlists workshop, where she found herself paired
with Elena Gifford from The Festival of Making. Having never met Elena before, she was interested to find out about the FOLLOW-ON OUTPUTS
festival and explain more about her own ways of working. • 1 residency commission
• 1 exhibition
After liaising for a few months, Amy was commissioned to be one of a series of artists in residence for the Art in
• 88 sketches
Manufacturing strand of the Festival. This strand, co-produced with the East Lancashire Creative People & Places (CPP)
• 2000 artwork envelopes
programme Super Slow Way, aims to bring more public attention to the manufacturing industries of East Lancashire,
• 1 film
highlighting the legacies of industrial mill towns whilst bringing art to people where they are.
• 1 additional follow-on commission
Over a series of weeks in her residency with Heritage Envelopes in Blackburn, Amy got to know the people and processes of
the place. From this she created sketches, interviews, videos and a public art piece tucked inside envelopes sent to 10,000
• More aware of commissioning
homes in the area. Some of her work from the residency was shown at the final installation exhibition for the festival. processes
Through the commission, Amy met Super Slow Way Deputy Director Jenny Rutter. As a consequence, Amy’s work was • Connected to a wider network of
highlighted to other CPP commissioners and soon Amy was in conversation with Left Coast – the CPP project in Blackpool, commissioners / producers
• More connected to other artists, less
with whom she was offered a further commission in which she meets virtually with other artists for two hours a week over
six weeks to discuss plans for future activity in Blackpool. This commitment and forum have been something of a lifeline
• Increased income
during lockdown over summer, providing an outlet to express and re-assess perspectives on life changing scenarios.
Reflecting on the No Shortlists workshop, Amy says,
c£6500 (commissions)
“It was an opportunity to see the commissioning process in a different way. Cutting out the application process
and putting you directly in the room. I got paired with Elena at Festival of Making. I didn’t know her before. There LOCATION
we were, two Northerners, and we realised we knew similar people, that I’d worked in her area before, so we had
• Artist – London
common ground, over Northernness and experiences. Then I showed her a presentation, highlights I’d produced so
• No Shortlists Workshop – London
far and things I was interested in, and Elena did the same. So I learned about the Festival and the Art in
• Commissioned residency – Blackburn
Manufacturing series struck a chord.”

Sally Fort | | September 2020 28

Stakeholder forum
Daniel Regan was voluntarily hosting a monthly arts and health peer group for artists, making the most of an Get-Together Commission – Arts & Health
opportunity to use the public space he worked from at the end of his studio day. Though the groups went well,
capacity for artists was limited, as was Daniel’s capacity to co-ordinate them.
• 1 commissioned event
Receiving the Get Together commission allowed him to be paid for his time and create a larger, more bespoke • 30 participants
event involving new formats of conversation and sharing. The day-long event attracted twice the number • 1 follow-on online forum
usually present and allowed whole group sharing and discussion, as well as the more usual smaller group or • 1 follow-on programme of events
paired conversations. • 20 follow-on participants
• 2 follow-on grants received
One theme that emerged on the day and resonated with many of the artists was that of ‘self-care’. By the end of
the event artists felt a bond and a desire to continue what had been started. Daniel was inspired to push this OUTCOMES
further. He received a small investment to develop the group and the programme and set up a small private • Greater number of artists supported
online community for artists to continue the conversation. He then went on to secure a grant from Arts Council • Greater range of support available to artists
England to grow and maintain the hub at a more professional level, and develop a series of peer events, • More resources to support artist’s work
conferences and a group exhibition further exploring the theme of self-care for artists. The first peer group • Responsibility for supporting other artists is
workshop took place earlier this year. now shared
• More connected, less isolated artists
Daniel says,
• Changed perceptions of socially engaged arts
“The whole day and the feedback I got then and after has been really inspiring. Lots of people in the group found sector
it helpful to demystify things relating to work, opportunities, funding, failures etc. The whole point of my network • More encouraged, confident, positive artists

is not about focussing on achieving aims of status, it’s not about particular achievements of outcomes. It’s about • More informed, resourced artists
• Increased income
feeling more comfortable and confident with their practice, their identity. For example [artist’s name] - she’s had
quite a boost in confidence. When she first came, she had a really low self-esteem especially as a disabled artist.
c£18,500 (grants)
In the last 18 months that confidence has grown. That supportive non-competitive environment to share work.
She had a solo show close to where she lives. It’s about coming to events where it’s a supportive network, that
Artist - London
peer to peer support. What the Get-Together brought to me, it facilitated time and space to explore something I Events – London
wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to.” Online hub - National

Sally Fort | | September 2020 29

Artist’s Commission
Les Monaghan is a photographer with a long-standing interest in socially engaged photography and video as a means of
Journal inclusions
highlighting society’s inequalities. He received an artist’s commission, which he used to follow up with a central character from a
Reading at journal launch sector
previous project.
Les is very aware of the ethical responsibilities of sharing the lives of others through photography, in terms of how individuals are
represented, by whom, and how others may interpret / mis-interpret the human(s) at the heart of the scene. OUTPUTS
• 1 interview / visit
With this in mind, Les re-visited a man whose life had been dramatically shaped by poverty and illness. The man fully understood
• 1 transcript
the dilemma of representation in the context of Les’s work. He himself had dilemmas about his own position as a voice and
representative of others in similar situations. The commission enabled both men to discuss and acknowledge the limitations of the • Series of photographs and

medium and the changes in life since the original project. video

Les (like many socially engaged artists) carries the emotional weight from their work as they absorb the challenges of life people OUTCOMES
share with them. Deep personal details and emotions can be shared with the artist – who often has nowhere to take this • Improved wellbeing
information other than within themselves. This can have a huge impact on their own emotional wellbeing. The commission • More validated
allowed Les, for the first time, to return to an individual featured in his work, having had the benefit of time and distance. In this • New perspective on
way both men could take a step back and develop a new perspective together. Les will carry the stories of people with him
indefinitely, but this opportunity allowed him to reach a conclusion of sorts.

The transcription of the discussion between the two men was included as one of the articles in the Social Works? Open journal. In INCOME GENERATED
addition, Les has been able to produce new photography and film work as part of the process. N/A

The commission and inclusion in the journal have provided a two-tier impact on Les, as he describes. LOCATION
“The commission was going back to that one element of the bigger project, but it turned out to be the thing I really wanted – to go
Artist - Doncaster
back to this guy so I can we see what’s going on with him. So it allowed a bit of continuation. I wanted to make a new little piece of
Artist’s commission – Doncaster
work and ask - for me and for others – what does photography do when it’s trying to make a case for people who have absolutely
no power? It allowed me to sustain that contact. And I thought the journal was really great. It’s massively validating. There’s a Journal inclusion – national
lovely yellow book here - I’m in it and he’s in it. And even just the act of being commissioned in this niche kind of work, is massively Journal launch – Sheffield

Sally Fort | | September 2020 30

Kerry Morrison is a well-established artist who has worked for many years in the North West where she co-founded Stakeholder forum

the locality specific socially engaged arts practice organisation In-Situ. She recently relocated to Scotland where she Stakeholder interviews / consultation

now lives as a socially and environmentally engaged practitioner. Originally one of the artists interviewed as part of Journal commission
Journal launch
the stakeholder group consultation and research, she was noted for being the only interviewee who talked in depth
about the ethics of this way of working. As a result of this she was commissioned to write an article on ethics for the OUTPUTS

Social Works? Open journal. • 1 journal article

• 3+ follow-on workshops
Following the publication of the article, Kerry was asked to run a workshop on ethics at the 2018 Social Art Summit in
• 1 follow-on code of ethics
Sheffield. At that workshop was a member of staff from Yorkshire Sculpture Park who invited her to run the workshop
again there for artists and stakeholders. Similarly, the Co-Creating Change network also requested a workshop and OUTCOMES
• More networked
asked Kerry to research and write a code of ethics for participatory practice, which is now currently under
• Broader experience of commissioners
development, with further workshops included in the process.
• Sector recognition for more guidance
Kerry feels the publication of the journal is a strong starting point and hopes to see more in the future. She comments.
on ethics

“The book [journal] was genius and what we’re lacking is text around British socially engaged practice. I do feel the • Greater recognition from

publication was important. For some reason it feels like if it’s written down it has gravitas. I imagine the people commissioners / the wider sector
• Increased income
applying for funding, developing projects will keep abreast of things that are being written. I expect people who have
the power to commission and the more powerful voice should be reading those things. And artists if we want to
develop our practice, we should be aware of what other people are doing and saying.”
Unknown (commissions)

Artist - Dumfries
Journal inclusion – national
Ethics workshops – Sheffield, Wakefield,

Sally Fort | | September 2020 31

Artist Led Workshop Participant – No Shortlists
Elsa James is an artist from Southend in Essex. She describes herself as ‘fairly new to the art world, still at the
start of my career’ despite graduating ten years ago. Her experience as a black female artist brought with it OUTPUTS
some wariness of ‘the diversity agenda’, tokenism, and how authentically arts organisations do or don’t fully • 2 commissions
represent the diversity of their communities. She felt privileged to be in the room with high profile arts • 1 film
organisations at the workshop, yet wondered if this might come up with any of the partners she might be paired
• 1 screening event
up with.
• 88 audience engagements (screening + online)
When the commissioners and artists were randomly matched, Elsa was paired with Cubitt. After seeing her • 1 podcast contribution
presentation they said they loved her practice and Elsa left the day feeling confident and excited. It also became
clear the organisation was undergoing a lot of change and restructuring at the time and it was unclear for a
while if and how a commission might be realised.
• Better understanding of commissioners
However, after observing a planning meeting for Cubitt’s part in the Going Places festival, Elsa was inspired by • Better networked
the co-ordinator and her unique position in the activities. Watching the co-ordinator’s natural warmth and care • Increased income
for everyone coming in, it was apparent she was the glue bonding groups and activities together. Her very
• New skills
authentic love for the people surrounding her became the focus for Elsa’s work. After this, Elsa visited four or
five more activities, filming the co-ordinator going about her work. She then edited the footage into a short film
and added the sound. In the past Elsa had relied on other people filming, or setting up her camera and
performing in front of it herself. Being behind the camera filming someone else, carrying out the editing process, £1600 (commissions)
and adding the sound were all new skills she developed along the way. Finally, the film was shown at a
community event and online as part of the festival. LOCATION
• Artist – Southend
As a result of the process Elsa came to the attention of the Axisweb team, who have since commissioned her to
be part of the Live Out Loud podcast series. • No Shortlists workshop – London
• Cubitt commission – London
• Online film - national

Sally Fort | | September 2020 32

Elsa reflects,

“It was so exciting! I felt so privileged to be there with those organisations. It takes time to build relationships so to have the possibility of working with one of
them was amazing. I knew it was a win-win for the artists in the room. Whereas for the organisations who normally are on top it felt a bit different. They’re
used to be the ones who choose.

[At a later planning meeting] Charlene [Cubitt education co-ordinator] was there, she was really warm and was getting hugs and kisses as people arrived and
she was just really relaxing and calming and chilled and able to create that for people. Her whole persona was lovely and she knew all about the participants.
She has the relationship between the artists, participants and organisation. And she was the only black woman in the room also. And I thought if I could
capture this in a film – even though I normally work with film makers rather take the film – this time I wanted to capture this, what I’ve just seen.

I make a lot of films about race and identity and blackness in the UK. So focussing on another person, another black woman, was really nice; and to be behind
the lens. It was stressful! It did push my technical levels to the limits. Using voice, those skills were new. And I’d never filmed someone else before, only myself.
And I’d never used sound before, so I learned how to mic up Charlene. My idea was beyond my technical ability, so I had lots of chats with artists I know who
makes films and learned from them.

I’m interested now in including more sound in my work and including more recording and maybe just doing sound and voice on its own and including that in
my work. I feel confident that I can be behind the lens now and have that equipment. I don’t think I’d have gone down that trajectory if not for this. And now I
have a film in my folio I would have never made without. The idea would never have come to me ordinarily. If it wasn’t for No Shortlists, I don’t think I would
have had that relationship with Cubitt. I wouldn’t be an artist they would consider for talks and other events. I wouldn’t have been on that radar.

It’s very brave of Joshua [Sofaer] to work this way. It was a radical thing. It has its benefits and it has its flaws. But how do you change that culture where you
have to be in the circle to be commissioned? Axisweb can help be that infrastructure and artists can recommend other artists, so you broaden the circle that
way. So the four artists who took part could the nominate another four artists, and on and on it goes. It could widen and become more diverse that way.”

Sally Fort | | September 2020 33


Stakeholder forum
Sally Lemsford has been a socially engaged artist for many years and a member of Axisweb for around nine years. As a
longstanding, experienced member and practitioner Sally was invited to join the partnership’s stakeholder group. A passionate Get-Together Commission –

and committed advocate for socially engaged arts practice, she contributed regularly to stakeholder group discussions and Socially Engaged Art Fair
consultations and continued the conversations informally with Axisweb throughout the partnership. Journal – short article

When a call was put out for artists to propose a peer to peer get together Sally took the opportunity to fill a professional and Social Works? Open – micro-
personal gap. Having recently moved from the East Midlands to the Dorset coast she found herself without a local network or
community of fellow artists. While there was an arts scene in her new town of Bridport, this catered to more traditional
artforms rather than socially engaged practice. OUTPUTS

• 1 Get-Together
Together with Megan Dunford, the Socially Engaged Art Fair get together was created to explore what it looks and feels like
and means to be a socially engaged artists, by taking part in a range of participatory activities to get conversations going. By the • 20 participants

end of the day the groups had created a wish list of actions for the future. Determined to keep the momentum going, Sally and • 1 action plan
Megan turned the wish list into an action plan and established the SEAFAIR network which now facilitates group discussions,
• 1 follow-on network
go-see events, public engagement activity, mentoring and a weekly e-bulletin.
• 50 network members
Sally’s long-standing and multi-faceted involvement with the Axisweb and Manchester Met partnership illustrates the artist-led
• 3 zines
nature of the partnership’s evolution, delivery and growth. Her journey: from member; to stakeholder; to contributor of a short
• 81 weekly ebulletins
journal article; commissioned get-together facilitator; independent peer to peer network co-founder and most recently peer to
peer crowdfund co-ordinator; all show what a symbiotic relationship the partnership and socially engaged artists can have. • 30 events

• 4 away days

• 18 monthly meetups

• 2 grants

Sally Fort | | September 2020 34

Sally says,
“I’d just moved and wanted to link up with other socially engaged artists in the area so that felt a really good way to
support that transition. It’s established SEAFAIR, and our voice is growing. Anyone can make a suggestion and make it • More validated and visible
happen. It is non-judgemental, it’s based on trust and provocation and that it’s quite radical. We’ve done away days,
• More connected
gone to different places, had mini-conferences in the car, pop-up fringe, workshops, talks, a PechaKucha show, artists
• Less isolated
days, mentoring, long table. Also Megan and I set up something that came out of SEAFAIR that sort of stands alone -
the Just in Case mobile zine library. • New skills

• Increased income
I feel strongly socially engaged art is under the radar, it’s not been high profile. This programme was about validation
and it’s been a hard journey – we’re very invisible in many ways. I think it [the Manchester Met and Axisweb • Increased awareness of local arts scene

partnership approach] is unique in that the core values are quite different from anything else that’s happening - non-
hierarchical, non-judgemental, non-led. People can come up with an idea and make it happen. The artists are the heart
of everything rather than the administration. I think it’s trying to do things differently. It has started to achieve better c£3000 (grant, crowd-fund)

recognition for socially engaged artists, but it can go further - we still need more.” LOCATION

Artist – Bridport

Get Together – Bridport

Sally Fort | | September 2020 35


Care was taken to explore the extent to which the partnership can take credit for the impact on artists:

The partnership…

✓ Has held a unique place in the sector. This is recognised and welcomed. Artists want to see this pushed further as the recognition is only just beginning
✓ Can be credited for 100% of the additional income invested in the programme of activity
✓ Can be credited for around 60% of Axisweb’s organisational sustainability and in turn, increases in membership and earned revenue; new support for socially
engaged artists; and a more diverse range of activity for all its members
✓ Can be credited for 100% of the direct activity and outputs of the partnership delivery and commissioning programme
✓ Contributed an average of 87% of the successful outcomes and longer-term impacts artists identified from their involvement with the partnership as
commissioned artists or attendees/ participants to activity the commissioned artists hosted

Sally Fort | | September 2020 36


Enables sector / Evolves into Holds a unique Leads to outcomes

Encourages artist artist-led space in the arts for participating
further funding consultation programme sector artists

KTP funding
Solidifies the KTP
Encourages partnership
Axisweb And wider range of
Increases volume Leads to outcomes
investment outcomes for
of artists members for higher volume socially engaged
Helps stabilise of artists artists
Axisweb busines
model and
culture Changes artists'
perception of

➢ Interviews with Amanda Ravetz and Mark Smith show that without the Knowledge Transfer Partnership investment none of the activity would happen. There
would be no budget, research staff or co-ordinator time.
➢ Without the KTP investment and support in kind from Manchester Met there would have been no rationale for Axisweb to invest without this foundation, and
neither Manchester Mat nor Axisweb’s investment alone would be enough to roll out the programme.
➢ This joint investment then levered additional funds from Manchester Met and Arts Council England. Without this combined funding there would have been no
reason to apply for additional monies, nor the evidence of financial stability and impact potential needed by the funders to be assured of delivering on the goals.
➢ Because of the partnership, Axisweb - having just lost core funding, with low levels of unrestricted income, and staff reductions – needed a significant shift in
how it operated. The partnership provided Axisweb with business advice which helped them change their culture, model, stabilise the organisation and present a
new programme of activity which they could not have provided otherwise.
➢ The partnership can be credited with 100% of the additional income invested in the partnership’s programme of activity.

Sally Fort | | September 2020 37

• In interviews, Mark Smith estimates around 60% of Axisweb’s achievements in relation to outcomes for their artist members can confidently be attributed to this
partnership, concurrent to a range of other measures also improving the company’s sustainability.
• In surveys, Axisweb members say they have noticed that in the past five years since the change of direction at the organisation, more support is now available to
socially engaged artists where before it wasn’t; and a more diverse programme is on offer with events, commissions and other activity where previously Axisweb
functioned mainly as an online platform / folio.


• Because the partnership had a positive impact on Axisweb as an organisation, this then extends outwards to Axisweb members in the form of benefits which
change their practice and the contexts in which they work. Given the attribution of around 60% of Axisweb’s stability described above, it is fair to credit the
partnership with 60% of the outcomes its members described.


Every outcome the evaluation identified as occurring from a partnership commission was given a percentage score according to how much credit the partnership
programme could take, or how much other factors came into play. Examples of factors that affected the scores include (but were not limited to):

• Whether artists already knew their commissioner, and therefore might be likely to be commissioned eventually anyway
• Whether artists were already working in the same locale / circles as commissioners or one another, and therefore might be likely to be commissioned
eventually anyway
• Whether artists had been to other similar events, and therefore might meet the same people or explore the same ideas / themes
• Clear evidence of a completely new aspect of the artist’s experience, where a baseline has been included or described as well as a change in experience
• Whether an experience is brand new, or is an evolution of previous work
• Where more than one artist independently describes the same outcome from the same experience
• Where an artist has had to put themselves significantly outside of their own comfort zone (when it is vital to acknowledge their own contribution to their
outcome in this scenario)
• As a result, attribution ranged from 35% to 100%. The overall average attribution to outcomes experienced by artists taking part was 87%

Sally Fort | | September 2020 38

In interviews, artists were asked to talk about whether the partnership programme offered anything new to the field of socially engaged arts, or whether it was part of
the same conversations being had in the sector elsewhere / more generally. This was to gauge whether artists were benefitting in a unique way from the partnership, or
whether it was adding volume to an existing debate and possibly just shifting outcomes over from elsewhere. Their feedback shows:

1. The partnership is unique in that it is artist-led on a national basis.

That is – other socially engaged artist-led developments do take place at local levels (generally specific to a town or city) but have no nationally co-ordinated
outlet to amplify their agendas, discoveries and voice. Likewise there are other national initiatives which attempt to co-ordinate socially engaged activity, but
these are not artist led. Indeed a top-down approach is directly at odds with socially engaged practice in the eyes of most socially engaged artists.
2. Though the partnership has occupied a unique space, its voice needs to be louder still at a national level.
Artists felt more still needs to be done by Axisweb and Manchester Met to ‘be at the table’ or ‘heard in the right rooms’ as artists put it. Commissioned artists
would also like to be able to swap and share their experiences of taking part. They were pleased to be able to reflect and feedback through this evaluation
process but wanted to be able to learn directly from one another. They felt this needed to be achieved by a) further issues of the journal and b) face to face
sharing [assuming this becomes possible in view of Covid restrictions].

Sally Fort | | September 2020 39

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