Introduction to AA2A

Project description

The AA2A project is a national set of schemes, providing visual artists and designer makers with the opportunity to undertake a period of research or realise a project, using workshop and supporting facilities in fine art and design departments of Higher and Further Education institutions. This gives participating artists and makers the opportunity to use equipment which otherwise might not be available to them, as well as benefiting the institution by allowing students to work alongside, and interact with practising artists and makers.

In 2017-18 we expect to have 13 institutions in England hosting AA2A schemes. Each participating institution normally offers places to four artists or designer-makers. Typical supporting facilities available to artists and makers include college lending libraries, access to lecture programmes, life rooms, etc. Each artist/maker has at least 100 hours access, which they can use between October and April. AA2A endeavours to provide support of up to £350 to artists on benefits and low income (conditions apply).

Although access is free, artists are expected to engage with students and those who apply are asked to propose ways in which their presence will benefit students e.g. by doing a technical demonstration or talking about their work or self employment. Artists are not expected to do more than three sessions of this type of activity during their placement.

Each AA2A Artist has a webpage on 'Dotbiz' - our networking site, which they can use to document their project through blogs and images. Many institutions also offer exhibitions as part of their AA2A scheme.

Since 1999 around 1,830 artists and makers have taken part in AA2A and in 2017-18 another 50 will be recruited.

Management of AA2A

AA2A Ltd is a social enterprise company dedicated to running the project. We currently have two part time staff - Wendy Mason (National Director) and Sarah Rowles (Project Support). The AA2A websites are maintained by Robin Keech of 'Disobedient Media'.

We also have a board of six Directors : Chris Owen - Head of Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University, Neil Grant - Head of the Faculty of Arts & Media at the University of Chester, Glenda Brindle - ex-Dean of School of Art, Design & Performance at the University of Central Lancashire, Jonathan Adams - ex-AA2A Artist, RSA fellow and member of Arts Council Board for the South East. Wendy Mason and Georgia Rodger (ex- AA2A National Coordinator) are also board members.

AA2A is a National Portfolio Organisation and has been funded by Arts Council England through the National Lottery Grants for the Arts programme and through contributions from the individual institutions.

History of the project

The AA2A project was set up and has been run by Wendy Mason (AA2A National Director) since the initial research was started in 1994, with the full AA2A project being launched in April 1999. The first three years were overseen by NAFAE (National Association for Fine Art Education) with funding from the Arts Council's A4E Lottery scheme and the Crafts Council. As the remit of the project was extended to cover craft as well as fine art, the AA2A project came under the umbrella of CHEAD (Council for Higher Education in Art and Design) where it remained until AA2A Ltd was set up as an independent organisation with social enterprise status, in 2010.

For more information see our frequently asked questions web page (FAQs).