Artist-Run Network Europe

Ormston House is the Irish partner on Artist-Run Network Europe, a new project co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. Over two and a half years, the project will host a range of activities including conferences, exhibitions, research visits and workshops. Through local and international co-operation, the project will strengthen the self-organised, artist-run sector in Europe and create an information framework through the new collaborative online platform, Artist-Run Resource Centre, for art students and professionals.

Artist-Run Network Europe (ARNE) has seven partners and four associate partners. Our partners are Candyland, Stockholm, Sweden (lead partner); the Lithuanian Interdisciplinary Artists’ Association, Vilnius, Lithuania; >top – Association for the Promotion of Cultural Practice, Berlin, Germany; The Syndicate of Creatures, Copenhagen, Denmark; Alternative Art Guide, The Hague, Netherlands; and Totaldobre, Riga, Latvia. We also look forward to working with associate partners Artist-Run Alliance, Alfred Institute for Art & Culture, Tel-Aviv, Israel; Juxtapose Art Fair, Aarhus Centre for Visual Art, Aarhus, Denmark; Fine Art and Department of Visual Arts, Konstfack, Stockholm, Sweden; and Supermarket – Independent Art Fair, Stockholm, Sweden.

It is common, not only in the artist-run sector but in the arts in general, for the public to feel excluded from the art world. In particular, activities of ‘underground’ artist-run initiatives can be considered niche and inaccessible. In a multi-layered format, the project aims to bridge 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 transferable methods and a user-friendly design for the Artist-Run Resource Centre.

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 artists’ associations, collectives, galleries, nomadic projects, pop-up spaces and many others.

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

ARNE will strengthen 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 initiatives 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 broad competences in many aspects of exhibition production that are valuable to share. However, it is common that ARIs lack the networks that would connect them with each other or allow them to exchange their knowledge.

ARNE will promote 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, to exhibit their artists abroad or to conduct research visits. Promotion of transnational mobility of artists and curators is vital for the development and strengthening of the artist-run 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 will improve the awareness and accessibility of artist-run initiatives to a broader spectrum of audiences.

Artist-run initiatives can seem fairly obscure to general audiences and art professionals alike. Those who start ARIs often lack the skills necessary to promote their programme or to 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 will share knowledge with and deliver 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.

ARNE will enhance sustainability through connecting artists and artist-run initiatives in the programme, creating spin-off effects.

Artist-run initiatives 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 of 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 for 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 long-term aim of the platform is that the content is co-created by its users, ensuring that it stays up-to-date and relevant.

Our participation is kindly supported by Creative Europe, the Arts Council of Ireland, and Limerick Arts Office at Limerick City & County Council.



Artist-Run Network Europe (ARNE) will run from January 2021 to April 2023. Ormston House is responsible for the project evaluation and social impact study led by Niamh Brown with local, national and international artists and other experts.
Map courtesy of associate partner Artist-Run Alliance, an artist-led global network of independent artist-run initiatives. You can follow ARNE on Facebook and Instagram or follow the hashtag #ARNE    
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