Call for papers: NAFAE conference

The Art of Resistance

National Association for Fine Art Education, Annual Conference @ UCA Canterbury, Kent.

Wednesday September 4th, 2024

Deadline: Saturday 15 June, 2024.
Confirmation: Monday 1 July, 2024.

The Art School is changing, has changed and will continue to change. The art school has an ability to be agile in reproducing itself in an expanding range of platforms, amongst social and political contexts and against sector metrics that challenge us to work in different ways. Within the University sector, the fabric of an Art School takes different forms, but the concept and attitude of the original ‘Art School’ still prevails. Meanwhile, instances of self-organisation and collective action, independent spaces for art making and exchange, and educational activism, are becoming an urgent necessity for enabling cultural inclusion. Increasingly, there are multiple cross-overs and prospects for local partnerships that are evolutionary and dynamic. There are numerous ways in which we have all learnt and are learning to make things happen in delivering a student experience which is inclusive through varied curriculums which are expansive and challenge the parameters of what we do. 

There are characteristics present and common to each Art School scenario: 
–    Precarity, in the sense of vulnerability as we are all affected by factors beyond the immediate community of practice (and by an openly hostile political agenda)
–    Defiant passion, a mission and ambition that is lived by people who won’t be deterred from what they understand to be critically important and valuable
–    Innovation and creative ways of operating within structures and systems, often taking the form of alternative approaches

In the current climate, it would be tempting to focus our concerns onto the way that marketisation and the application of economic norms have effectively diminished the reliability of resourcing and the richness of the social offer at the heart of art education. However, in the final analysis, the true core of everything are the people who drive, inspire, make and enable. 

–    Artist activists and artists who teach,
–    Educational activists and teachers who create,
–    Maker activists and technical experts who share,
–    Social activists and organisers who produce collective action.

Typically, such people are those who can’t ‘put it down’, who can find ways of adapting and ‘working with’, who can look forward, who carve out opportunities, who can challenge boundaries, who seek political agency for those they don’t know, and who find strength in the cultural richness that we can and should disseminate. 

Our gathering at Canterbury, Kent will focus on innovative, disruptive and/ or alternative ecologies of practice that exist within and beyond the Art School. This year’s conference provides an opportunity to bridge initiatives and connect experiences, particularly those which point to visions for the future, resilience and resistance and positive action. Each in our community has a multitude of positive anecdotes, examples, and successes; stories that aren’t frequently told or, more likely, become obscured by the intensifying struggle to defend access to cultural and creative means. 

Once again, the background to this conference are the urgencies and crisis’s that continue to challenge and destabilise UK post-statutory education in Fine Art:

‘Ministers will cut funding for performing and creative arts courses at English universities next year, ………….  .’ 
Guardian report, 03 May, 2024

‘……44 institutions currently affected by redundancies. Stated job losses are around a thousand but many more are concealed behind non-specific announcements of “voluntary severance schemes.” ’
World Socialist Web Site, 02 April, 2024

However, in preparing for a future alternative, it is important to reflect on and take strength from what members across our community are already achieving with their students and learners. At our 2024 conference, and as a network, we are primarily interested in practice and projects; in how people are producing and how educators and fine art practitioners are responding to challenge.
Proposals are invited for presentations, papers or provocations that respond to the broad theme of ‘The Art of Resistance’. The four key areas this theme aims to address are as follows (we are, however, open to other suggestions and responses not covered here):

  • Provocations for the ‘Art School of the 22nd Century’: Art School as attitude.
  • Art education and activism: Communities of Practice and collective agency; the value of self-organisation, mutual empowerment, friendship and solidarity.
  • Resistance as creative change: Disruption and radical practice; Hope labour, cultural activism and social contribution.
  • Practice exchange: The diversity of artist educator’s tacit intelligences, nurtured and stored in acts of creative making, shared as sources of wisdom and knowing.

Proposals should be no more than 500 words and should include your name, email address and organisation or situation, along with the title of the proposed presentation, paper or provocation. All proposals will be peer reviewed. 

Proposals should be submitted to: no later than 15th June 2024.
Response to abstracts will be provided by 1st July.

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