Author: Matilda Agace (Common Vision)
Over the past two years, arts organisations have flexed and adapted to find better ways to support their communities and drive social recovery. The Award for Civic Arts Organisations, launched in 2020 by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch), recognises the achievement of arts organisations who demonstrated a strong civic role during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Common Vision’s report looks at what the applications for the Award in its first two years can tell us about the growing movement of civic arts organisations in the UK. A total of 424 organisations of all sizes and art forms applied in 2020 and 2021, and together they reveal the extraordinary resilience and creativity of a sector that showed heightened capacity to respond to the challenges of this period of disruption.
The stories described by the applicants paint an optimistic picture. Though for many this was the first time their civic role became a priority, all organisations have become committed to making civic engagement a key element of their strategy going forward.
In a time where the initial optimism and sense of shared purpose and community experienced during the pandemic have waned, civic arts organisations are ever more relevant. Communities around the UK face great challenges – from the cost of living crisis to climate change – but there are opportunities for ambition, imagination and civic transformation. The civic arts movement has a role to play in catalysing this transition.