FOOTFALL: Articulating the Value of Artist Led Organisations in Ireland
FOOTFALL is a national research project devised by 126 Artist-Run Gallery to explore the position of small arts organisations in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The aim of the research programme is to develop new, nuanced means to articulate the value of the work done by smaller, diverse and risk-taking visual arts organisations. FOOTFALL examines what separates the activities of artist-led organisations from those of other art institutions and what role they play in artists’ careers. The year long programme of research was coordinated by 126 Chairperson Shelly McDonnell, and comprised direct consultation with the organisations, practitioners and audiences of the artist led sector. A Plenary Session was devised and facilitated by Ailbhe Murphy and Ciaran Smyth of Vagabond Reviews as part of the FOOTFALL Symposium in November 2014. The symposium – coordinated by 126 Artist-Run Gallery and Galway City Curator-in-Residence Megs Morley – featured invited speakers Jason E. Bowman, Valerie Connor and Mikael Löfgren, and provided a platform for discussion on key issues pertaining to the artist led sector (view Plenary Session Report and Symposium video documentation).
The FOOTFALL Research Report, written by Joanne Laws, was published in March 2015. Focusing on the Irish context, the report outlines why artist led organisations are established, how they are run and the type of work they do. Those perceived to benefit from this work, and the inherent ‘value’ of such activity, is discussed. Drawing on emerging discourse in the field, possible methods for measuring ‘non-economic’ value are presented. The perceived strengths of artist led organisations are identified, followed by a discussion on the central issues of sustainability and artistic labour. The report concludes with thoughts on whether there is a need for further organisational forms within the artist led sector in Ireland. FOOTFALL does not aim to represent the agenda(s) of artist led organisations in Ireland but rather to generate an enquiry into the value of the labour invested in running them.
FOOTFALL was funded by the Arts Council Project Award 2013.