Live Art Histories and Futures: a major research project into the Live Art sector in the UK

The UK’s Live Art sector is globally recognised and respected. Over the last few decades Live Art in the UK has achieved significant national impact in relation to issues of diversity, internationalism, talent development, public impact and removing barriers to engagement to the arts. However, there has never been independent research into the conditions, opportunities, challenges and impacts of the Live Art Sector, until now.

The Live Art Histories and Futures Sector Research Project is the first major mapping of the impact and influence of Live Art. The research has been commissioned by Live Art Development Agency, in partnership with Live Art UK, and undertaken in close dialogue with Arts Council England, with the aim of demonstrating and evidencing the sector’s complexity, diversity and achievements.

The research is being undertaken by a team of consultants – Dr Elyssa Livergant (London) and Dr Cecilia Wee (London), working with Dr Johanna Linsley (Dundee), Dr Tim Jeeves (Liverpool) and Dr Tarek Virani (Bristol). The team of consultants were appointed by a Steering Group following an open call for proposals in 2019.

“We seek to examine Live Art’s influence on the creative case for diversity, the nurturing of challenging and risky artistic practices and mainstream cultures, identifying the challenges that lie ahead for Live Art and proposing actions that will enable development of Live Art practitioners, practices and the sector into the future through an exploration of the people, places, resources and relationships that underpin the sector.”

Since August 2019, the consultants have undertaken quantitative and qualitative research to analyse the historical contribution, achievements, leadership and wider cultural influence of Live Art including:

When the pandemic hit the UK in March 2020, the Live Art Sector research team paused its work. In response to the impact of COVID-19 and the work of the Black Lives Matter movement, the Live Art sector (and the cultural sector more generally) has been confronting seismic changes and profound challenges. The research team and LADA felt that it was essential to unpack practical and ethical questions of how to effectively continue this work to ensure that the research and its findings were timely and relevant, and engaged with the new narratives of the cultural landscape of the UK.

With further funding support from Arts Council England, and in dialogue with LADA, the team have devised an approach to the Live Art sector research that gives space to reflect on the events of 2020 so that this research will be of the most benefit to artists and cultural workers, organisations, audiences and stakeholders.

The Live Art Histories and Futures research project will offer a snapshot of the sector up to March 2020 and outline recommendations for the future which the team hope will contribute to shaping the sector as it emerges into a new world amid significant disruption and instability.

The project report will include the findings of extensive quantitative and qualitative research, a series of case studies and an expanded collection of commissioned writings and artists’ responses, and will be published, launched and disseminated in June 2021.

Download the Research Plan

Banner image credit:

Long Table on Live Art and Feminism (2015), © Alex Eisenberg

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