We have to challenge the system itself


Art Party report: “We have to challenge the system itself”

It started with a march along Scarborough’s sea front and ended with live music and DJ sets. In between, over a 1000 artists – including representatives from a-n and AIR – gathered at Scarborough Spa to discuss, debate and champion the role of art and artists in education and wider society.

Billed as an ‘antidote to all other conferences’, Saturday’s Art Party Conference was instigated by the artist Bob and Roberta Smith. After gathering at the town’s lifeboat station, the Art Party March worked its way up to Scarborough Spa for the conference’s ‘grand opening’ at 2pm. Homemade banners and placards featured the Secretary of State for Education, The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, while artist Sam Venables created a special banner promoting AIR’s Paying Artists Campaign and bearing the defiant slogan: ‘Stand up for your practice’.

Helen Davies spent over a year producing her banner for the march. “Today is about bringing artists together and delivering the message that art isn’t just about economic gain,” she said. “Art has an important part to play in society – and art education is integral to that.”

Provocations and pronouncements

Throughout the afternoon, a range of provocations were presented from ‘The Summit’, a banner and bunting-festooned stage specially created for the conference by Bob and Roberta Smith. Gove was repeatedly attacked for his attitude towards the teaching of art in schools. Leslie Butterworth, the general secretary of the National Society for Education in Art and Design, said: “Creativity will not bloom in a cultural desert. To borrow one of Bob’s phrases, we must make our own damn education.”

See the full report by Jack Hutchinson on the a-n website: http://new.a-n.co.uk/news/single/art-party-conference-report/

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