Online conference reveals arts lessons from lockdown


Academics at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and the University of Cambridge will come together with practitioners in the creative arts sector to share learning about life under lockdown as part of the Cambridge Arts Network (CAN) conference, which is now taking place online until 4 March.

Covid-19 has hit creative and performing arts particularly hard, but while the theatres have been dark and the galleries and music venues closed, academics and practitioners have moved their projects online.

This year’s CAN conference, titled Culture Under COVID – Shifting Perspectives on Arts and Culture, Audience and Community, is normally delivered face to face as a one-day event, but this year’s event will take place online over three weeks between February and March. There will be three events per day, on the Tuesday to Thursday each week, an example of how the sector is adapting to life under lockdown and finding new audiences.

The conference will consider arts and culture under Covid-19, with each week taking a different perspective. Week one focuses on the approaches and activities that have been tried in the sector in the last year; week two looks at lessons that have been learned and what has been gained; and week three considers how the sector will work in the future, building on successes.

Talks, presentations, discussions and workshops range from the practicalities of raising funding, building an audience and running an event online to discussions of how the arts can engage with issues of health, identity and cultural practice while being delivered in online environments.

Councillor Anna Smith, Executive Councillor for Communities, Cambridge City Council, said: “In these difficult times it is important that we all pull together to support the arts and cultural sector. Cambridge City Council seeks to sustain its role as convenor and facilitator and I am delighted that we have been able to work with participants in the sector, ARU and the University of Cambridge, to deliver another exciting, though different, conference.

“This rich and diverse programme will provide an opportunity to think, listen and learn and could inform the way the City Council supports the sector moving forward.”

Dr Matthew Day, Deputy Dean for Research and Innovation in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at ARU said: “I am delighted that we are once again able to work with CAN to deliver the annual conference. In these challenging times it is vital that ARU plays an anchor role in the region supporting partners and collaborating as widely as possible.

“We are looking forward to sharing information about our projects, hearing about the successes of others in the sector and identifying ways in which we can collaborate in the future.”

Dr Lucinda Spokes, Head of Public Engagement at the University of Cambridge, said “The Cambridge Arts Network Conference is a wonderful opportunity for the University of Cambridge to share expertise and experiences with, and learn from, the arts and cultural sector. The University’s museums and Festival have long been at the heart of the artistic and cultural life of the City and beyond, and our academics work closely with practitioners in the sector. We are looking forward to building on the conference to extend our partnership working.”

All events are free of charge and participants may attend as many sessions as they wish.

For those unable to attend the events live, sessions will be recorded and shared for a limited time on the CAN YouTube Channel (links will be shared with those who register). 

Cambridge Arts Network can be found here.

Full details of the programme and how to book are available here


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