The Unlearning Organisation: Cultural Devolution and Scotland’s Visual Arts 1967-2017 @ Scottish Society for Art History 2018 Study Day

The Scottish Society for Art History’s Study Day for 2018 is on the theme of Art Organisations and Institutions in Scotland. The event is hosted in association with Fine Art Critical Studies, The Glasgow School of Art, and will take place in the Reid Auditorium, GSA , on Saturday 10 February.

The study day will share current research and scholarship on art institutions, galleries, societies, collectives and support organisations in Scotland. The event will feature a selection of papers from a variety of different speakers, from academics and independent researchers, to curators and practising artists.

Tickets for the study day can be purchased online via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/art-organisations-and-institutions-in-scotland-ssah-study-day-tickets-39874340225

Neil Mulholland – The Unlearning Organisation: Cultural Devolution and Scotland’s Visual Arts 1967-2017

Building on primary research in CCA/GSA’s Third Eye Centre archive and interviews with key stakeholders, this paper elaborates the ways in which visual artists based in Scotland developed their own civic infrastructure in tandem with the devolution of state arts patronage from London to Edinburgh from 1967 onwards. It demonstrates how the Keynesian arms-length principal inherited by the Scottish Arts Council (SAC) generated a productive tension with nascent Artist Run Initiatives (ARIs) in Scotland. With limited state support, artists successfully developed and ran their own platforms while the Scottish Arts Council founded and led more generously funded (competing) national and civic arts organisations.

Realising Tom Nairn and Bob Tait’s vision of a Scottish International, Scotland’s nascent ARIs bypassed official Scottish and British arts bodies, finding a blueprint and network for their activities in ARIs such as SPACE (London) and PS1 (New York City).

As a means of mapping means of production and systems of distribution over the past half century, the paper presents snapshots of organisational change at pivotal moments in the devolution of the arts in Scotland: 1971, 1979, 1992 and 1999.