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The West of England Visual Arts Alliance

The West of England Visual Arts Alliance

Izzy Mooney, Dreamtime Fellow at Spike Island supported by artist Luke Jerram (2019) Photograph by Rebecca Goldman



In 2021 the West of England Visual Arts Alliance was awarded £1.18 million by Arts Council England to transform the future of visual arts in Bristol and the West of England.

A new National Lottery development fund was launched by Arts Council England in 2020 to increase professional development opportunities and commissioning capacity for the visual arts, and to ensure ambition and opportunity is thriving in this region. In response, a new consortium partnership of nine organisations across the region was formed to bring about this step change.

Co-led by Spike Island and Visual Arts South West, the consortium includes partners Bath Spa University School of Art, Bristol City Council, The Brunswick Club, Creative Youth Network, Culture Weston, North Somerset Council and UWE Bristol. Our collective vision is for the visual arts community in Bristol and the West of England to be more progressive, sustainable and inclusive by 2024.

Over the next three years, the West of England Visual Arts Alliance programme aims to transform Bristol and the West of England into a place where the visual arts can thrive, providing critical opportunities and support to enable diverse local artists, curators and young people to develop their careers and achieve their potential.

Specific detail on the hundreds of opportunities will be announced over the coming year, to include:

  • 2,760 opportunities for at least 500 artists
  • 3 artist development programmes led by Spike Island, Visual Arts South West and The Brunswick Club
  • Online and place-based mentoring, resources and interdisciplinary skills workshops
  • Research and development bursaries of between £500–£1,000 awarded to more than 15 South West-based artists, curators and independent art workers each year
  • Major new commissioning and exhibition opportunities for South West-based artists
  • Research and development fellowships of £10k awarded to 3 South West-based artists, artist-led groups or other independent art workers each year
  • New positive action policies for subsidised studio provision and artist development opportunities, designed to remove barriers to access for underrepresented groups
  • New fellowship and mentoring opportunities for artists, curators and young people, developed with Creative Youth Network

Artists and curators who would like to hear first about these opportunities are encouraged to sign up to the Spike Island and/or Visual Arts South West mailing lists.

This strategic partnership will also provide support for access costs and network hubs, help artist-led groups to secure urgently needed homes, and enable artist-led organisations and studio providers to become more sustainable and inclusive by adopting new models of best practice. By advocating for the visual arts to be embedded in the region’s strategic development, it aims to ensure that the sector’s role in regeneration, well-being, and economic and community development is fully recognised.