Artist-Run Network Europe (ARNE)

Launching Artist-Run Network Europe: raising the visibility of the artist-run sector

Artist-Run Network Europe (ARNE) is a European project with focus on artist-run initiatives co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. In the course of two and a half years (October 2020–April 2023) the project will host a range of activities, including exhibitions, conferences, workshops and lectures. ARNE aims to strengthen the self-organised artist-run sector in Europe with focus on local and international cooperation, and to create a simple information framework for art professionals and art students, namely through a collaborative online platform, Artist-Run Resource Centre (ARRC).

ARNE has seven partners and four associated partners. The partners are:

Candyland, Stockholm, Sweden

Ormston House, Limerick, Ireland

The Lithuanian Interdisciplinary Artists’ Association, Vilnius, Lithuania

>top – Association for the Promotion of Cultural Practice, Berlin, Germany

The Syndicate of Creatures, Copenhagen, Denmark

The Alternative Art Guide, The Hague, Netherlands

Totaldobre, Riga, Latvia 

And associated partners:

The Artist-Run Alliance/Alfred Institute for Art and Culture, Tel-Aviv, Israel

Aarhus Center for Visual Art/Juxtapose Art Fair, Aarhus, Denmark

Fine Art and Department of Visual Arts, Konstfack, Stockholm, Sweden

Supermarket – Stockholm Independent Art Fair, Stockholm, Sweden

It is common not only in the artist-run sector but the arts in general for the public to feel excluded from the art world, and in particular the activities of the ‘underground’ artist-run spaces can be considered niche and inaccessible. In a multi-layered format, the project bridges the gap between European cultures, professions and artists at different stages of their careers. It promotes international collaboration and mutual respect, and emphasises the importance of simple, transferable methods and a user-friendly layout of the online resource centre.

First of all, what are artist-run initiatives (ARIs)?

Artist-run initiatives are usually run by artists, sometimes together with curators or other creatives. They can have many different shapes and formats, such as galleries, artists’ associations, collectives, galleries, pop-up spaces, nomadic projects and many others.

What is the aim of Artist-Run Network Europe and what kind of events and activities will the project deliver?

ARNE strengthens the European self-organised artist-run sector by connecting artist-run initiatives to exchange their experience, methods and structures.
The artist-run sector is varied across countries and exists in different formats. Many artist-run spaces start from spontaneous artists’ groups based solely on the enthusiasm of its organisers, often without previous experience. At the same time, the artists are professionals who have hands-on knowledge about art, technical skills, and a broad competence in many aspects of exhibition production that are valuable to share. However, it is common that artist-run initiatives lack the networks that would connect them with each other or allow them to exchange their knowledge.

ARNE promotes transnational mobility of artists from the independent artist-run initiatives
Artist-run initiatives often work on a limited budget and function only locally, unable to invite international artists, exhibit their artists abroad or conduct research trips. Promotion of transnational mobility of artists and curators is vital for the development and strengthening of the independent art sector. ARNE will work specifically with local initiatives and regional organisations, and get them involved in the project events as local coordinators or participants.

ARNE improves the awareness and accessibility of artist-run initiatives to broader spectrum of audiences
Artist-run initiatives can seem fairly obscure to general audiences and art professionals alike. Those who start artist-run initiatives often lack the skills necessary to promote their programme and reach out to people. The project opens up new opportunities and serves to reach broader audiences in the countries of the partners and participants.

ARNE shares knowledge with and delivers training and education to peers from the art sector and art students
The lack of a targeted, sustainable exchange of knowledge and skills between artist-run initiatives, as well as with public and education institutions is an issue prevalent within the artist-run sector, and transferring of knowledge is rare. It is common that artists engage voluntarily for a period of time before becoming exhausted and leaving their initiatives without forwarding their experience to the next generation. ARNE will facilitate connections and collaborations, show alternative economic models, funding opportunities and survival strategies through the events, documentation and uploading the materials on the Artist-Run Resource Centre.

Enhance sustainability through connecting artists and artist-run initiatives in the programme, creating spin-off effects.
ARIs often work with a flexible programme and are situated in a continuous state of financial insecurity. They learn on-the-go; taking inspiration from each other increases their chances for sustainability. It is quite common that the lifespan of ARIs tends to fluctuate – some that close down after one year of activity to veterans initiated in the 1990s who serve as role models for younger ARIs. Together, small ARIs can have a much larger outreach.

The Artist-Run Resource Centre (ARRC) will serve as a free resource centre of skills and knowledge dedicated to the specific needs of artist-run initiatives. It will contain a comprehensive presentation of the artist-run sector, feature articles, a glossary, links and a searchable archive of content. A longer-term aim of the platform is that the content is co-created by its users, ensuring that it stays up-to-date and relevant.

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