Introduction to AA2A
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 there will be 11 institutions in England hosting AA2A schemes. Each participating institution 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, principally for those 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 our networking area, which they can use to document their project through blogs and images. Many institutions also offer exhibitions as part of their AA2A scheme.
Management of AA2A
AA2A Ltd is a social enterprise company dedicated to running the project. We have two part time members of staff - Wendy Mason, National Director and Gill Butler-Jones, National Administrator and Project Manager. Development of AA2A's websites is by 'Disobedient Media'.
We also have a board of five Directors : Chris Owen, Head of Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University, Neil Grant, ex-Head of School at University of Chester, Glenda Brindle, ex-Dean of School of Art, Design and Performance at the University of Central Lancashire, Jonathan Adams, ex-AA2A Artist, RSA fellow and ex-member of Arts Council Board for the South East. Wendy Mason is also board member.
AA2A is currently funded by Arts Council England through the National Lottery Grants for the Arts programme and through contributions from the individual institutions. It has been accepted as a Sector Support Organisation for the Visual Arts and a National Portfolio Organisation from April 2018
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.