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19 October 2021

King's students to research pandemic impact on civic arts organisations

The second edition of the Award for Civic Arts Organisations launches

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The Award for Civic Arts Organisations logo against a colourful background with geometric shapes

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch) and King’s College London launch today The Award for Civic Arts Organisations 2022, celebrating the civic role of arts.

The successful inaugural Award in 2021 shone a light on the inspiring ways in which arts organisations have connected with their communities and responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. This second edition focusses on how arts organisations are changing after a period of constraint and disruption, embedding what they have learnt in future plans and reimagining what it means to embrace their civic role.

Students from the Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities at King’s will research how organisations are emerging from a period, which has affected every individual and community, disrupted business models, and accelerated emerging trends in the cultural sector, as in society. They will have the chance to surface outstanding practice in the civic arts arena and, through their case studies, encourage many others to rethink their own relationships with the communities they serve.

“Working on this project has been incredibly illuminating. The work the shortlisted organisations have done during the pandemic has expertly demonstrated the many ways the arts can nourish and support the communities to which they belong.”

Jonathan Vickers, MA Arts & Cultural Management student, who worked on the 2021 Award for Civic Arts Organisations

Offering one award of £100,000 and two of £25,000, The Award for Civic Arts Organisations seeks to highlight organisations whose practice the selection panel believes to be exceptional and incentivise the wider sector to make fulfilment of a civic role a common key priority. The foundation has a long-standing history of support for the arts and, alongside King’s, is committed to promote the civic role of arts organisations.  

“Last year’s applications to the Award, and the four recipients, were all shining examples of how art, and arts organisations, play a vital role in supporting and enriching their local communities through the most challenging of times. This year, we look forward to learning how organisations across the country have found ways to extract and embed the learning of the last 18 months, turning challenge to opportunity. I’m particularly pleased that King’s students will again have the chance to work with the shortlisted organisations, capturing their experiences and creating an additional legacy from the Civic Arts Award.”

Baroness Deborah Bull, Vice President (Communities & National Engagement), Senior Advisory Fellow for Culture at King’s College London, and chair of the judging panel for The Award for Civic Arts Organisations

Some 260 organisations submitted applications for the first Award in 2020. Together, these constitute a rich tapestry of imaginative and humanitarian responses to heightened levels of need. As a snapshot, it paints a picture that is favourable: a cultural sector open to change and resilient when connected to the community, at odds with the less compelling narrative of a sector in stasis, doors shut and closed for business. 

“Building on the successful first year of the Award, the second iteration will enable us to celebrate those organisations that have learnt from the pandemic and adjusted their work in response to their communities. We are looking, in particular, at how organisations are embedding the learning from working through the pandemic and how they are taking their civic role to the heart of their mission.”

Andrew Barnett OBE, Director of the UK Branch of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation