Network Member Focus – Outside In
8th Aug 2018
We spoke with Director Marc Steene about the organisation’s work:
“Outside In provides a platform for artists facing a barrier to the art world, whether due to disability, health, social circumstance or isolation. The charity’s vision is:
To celebrate the diversity of talent from artists outside of the mainstream leading to the creation of a fairer art world which challenges traditional values and institutional judgements about whose work can and should be displayed.
“Outside In achieves this by working in partnership with partners in health, social care, justice and correction, academia and arts and heritage organisations to provide opportunities for artists to exhibit their work, undertake commissions and further their professional development.
“Artists are at the heart of the charity and their support and development is our primary activity. To enable this, we established an extensive programme of support that includes:
- Providing Artist Support Days to enable artists to join the charity and get their work online
- Training artists in new skills through our Step Up programme
- Providing artists opportunities to exhibit and sell their work digitally, at art fairs and through working in partnership with museums and galleries.
“The Step Up training programme enables artists to learn new arts sector skills and potentially take up new positions in the art world, such as workshop leaders, curators and researchers – it has trained over 80 artists to date.
“The Step Up ‘Interpreting Collections’ course was successfully delivered with the Wellcome Collection in 2017 and a further project is taking place currently. Partnerships are also being brokered with regional programme partners including Pallant House Gallery, Hastings Museum and Gallery, Jerwood Gallery and Ditchling Museum. We are also in the process of developing a national Step Up project focusing on artwork produced by patients in mental health institutions and will be developing a curating and public speaking programme in the near future.
“Outside In was founded in 2006 as the flagship outreach project for Pallant House Gallery in Chichester. In 2013, Outside In won the prestigious Charity Award in the Arts, Culture, and Heritage category. Following celebrations to mark a highly successful first decade, Outside In became an independent charity in April 2017 with myself at the helm as director.
“A close relationship remains in place between the two organisations, the gallery has two appointees on the Outside In Board and Outside In still has offices sited at the gallery. A further commitment of the ongoing partnership is the recently established biennial co-commission.
“Our latest partnership with Fabrica came about, as I have known Liz Whitehead, the director of Fabrica, for a long time and have immense respect for the work Fabrica has done. Since becoming an independent charity we have been discussing how we can collaborate and better support artists locally. (We have also been looking for Brighton offices and now have three members of staff sited at Fabrica as well). I hope our artists will have the opportunity to meet and work with a wider arts network, normalising their engagement with the art world and that our collaboration will enable more artists to develop their practice and skills.
“We plan to develop Outside In as a truly national charity. This will see us build on our regional base at Pallant House Gallery and partnership with Fabrica to secure five more hubs by 2022; we are in the process of having conversations with organisations in the Midlands, Wales and the North of England. The hubs will be located in areas of strategic and geographic importance in order to maximise reach and target areas of low arts engagement. We also have a series of events planned during 2019 to roll out our new programmes, launch our new website and artists’ app, as well as increase engagement and awareness of what we do.
“There are many benefits of being based outside London. There is a smaller network of organisations to connect with, often more relaxed and willing to work together, there is also a greater need for our charity given the historical lack of provision and resources for the regions. This means there is a large body of artists outside of London who are currently invisible and as such our work is all the more important in bringing them in to view.
“Despite there being a lot of good practice out there I feel the arts sector, as it currently stands, does not work fairly. I think the best way the sector can learn is to listen to artists, especially those who are currently excluded from taking part and the organisations working to support them, in order to adapt to be more welcoming and inclusive rather than expecting artists to change to fit the system. There is a lot of remarkable and undiscovered talent in our communities that will enrich the art world and help organisations flourish; we just need to open the door wider.
“It is a privilege to be working with an organisation that is trawling our communities looking for the overlooked artists out there and to see the amazing work being produced, often in difficult circumstances.”
Image: Outside In Journeys at Sotheby’s © Andrew Hood, courtesy Outside In.