As part of my MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies, I completed my work placement at a visual arts company called Axisweb based in Leeds. Axisweb is a trusted digital platform for the best of emerging and established contemporary artists in the UK and has a data base of over 2500 members. The organisation essentially offers a ‘match making’ service, by which artists and art professionals can find each other for projects, events and exhibitions. Axisweb also run many events and workshops across the country, enabling conversations and networking opportunities to extend the influence of contemporary art.
Until this year, Axisweb have always been a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO), receiving funding from Arts Council England. As of July 2014 however, it was announced that the Arts Council would not continue to fund them, which consequently means that Axisweb must rethink their organisational mission and investigate new sources of funding and earned income.
A role that was therefore vitally important would be participation in internal meetings and discussions centered on business planning and new approaches to income generation. A project that I got involved in is called MAstars, which is a curated feature on the Axisweb website. MAstars celebrates the importance of advanced education along with promoting new upcoming contemporary artists. So far, an art professional has been commissioned to attend the MA fine art degree shows across the country. In light of reduced funding however, this will not continue to be possible.
My position at Axisweb was therefore established in the role of a research assistant; the aim working towards developing a new business strategy for MAstars. For the project to fund itself, it had to be considered whether Universities would pay for an influential art professional to attend their departments and indeed other potential services such as talks, critiques and workshops. I was provided with a research brief and clear set of objectives, and modelled a research survey based on this. The survey was then sent out to all fine art departments across the country, with a clear aim of establishing the gaps and needs of institutions.
The end of year MA fine art degree show is such a special time in the British Art calendar. Students can see how their work has developed and art professionals can use the opportunity to talent spot and see how themes are changing each year. Being so passionate about contemporary art and advanced education, it was such an exciting project to be involved in and see the results coming in first hand. I also gained so much awareness into the importance of creative organisations and the influence of funding. The distribution of funding on a regional basis was particularly insightful to me. On a personal level however, the experience was invaluable, as I got to be a part of Axisweb’s new structure.
Axisweb offers British artists a unique digital platform, and I am convinced that with their existing capable team and supportive members, the visual arts company will continue to thrive on the exciting opportunities that lay ahead.