Next Generation Forum Summary

A&A Journal 52

The founding of Art and Architecture (A&A) in 1982 heralded a new spirit of collaboration between artists and architects. Since it was established following the pioneering conference at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, A&A has remained a leading advocate for the creative involvement of artists within architecture and building development. The subsequent twenty years have seen a complex diversity of issues, activities and relationships. We have witnessed satisfyingly high levels of support, integration and innovation for public art. The role and skills of artists and architects have expanded to within cross-boundary, multi-disciplinary teams working together in urban redevelopment and the rural environment. The artist has added an extra quality of life into the community. The architect has responded creatively by facilitating and incorporating the values associated with art into their buildings. Both the construction process and the built environment have gained by this collaboration. The question we asked for Next Generation is what the leading creative practitioners and thinkers saw as their vision of the future. The question for A&A is how to build upon the initial years of advocacy and maintain a relevant and purposeful activity for the next generation. Within this reality where do we go now and what is the future role for Art & Architecture?

Next Generation Forum

Organised by A&A with an emphasis upon approaches and aspirations for art and architecture in the 21st century, the Next Generation Forum was a series of national public events in Bristol, Manchester, Tate Britain and RIBA London. They were an opportunity for conjecture with a brief to explore, speculate and propose future directions and desired models of practice. The emphasis was on the speakers¹ individual vision and preferences, to celebrate contemporary achievements, to charter progress and to project trends. Each participant was invited to freely express their views and opinions on the success and failures of the past together with their constructive or contentious thoughts about the ongoing relationship between artists and architects. In this spirit, A&A aimed to transcend boundaries and to promote a collaborative approach to improving our surroundings and achieve a better quality built environment and natural landscape? Questions: Assisted marriage or implicit inequality? The Next Generation Forum covered a variety of artist-architecture interactions together with the role and value of these collaborations. It uncovered many questions: Where are we now? - Where do we wish to go? - How do we get there? Can the assisted marriage between artists and architects ever be satisfactorily reached or is it forever elusive? Is there an implicit inequality in the hierarchy of the design process preventing fruitful consummation? Will the public or urban design professions value or gain anything from the application of artists to improve our surroundings? Does the artist have a useful role to unlock access and support local communities trapped in a previous vision of a utopian nightmare? Can the individual artists intervention in the urban and rural context of the public realm be trusted? Is the artist confined by their ability to achieve a quality within their personal vision and at the same time to play as a part of the team? Are architects qualified to make their own artistic statements? Is architecture the New Art?

The Future

Art & Architecture aims to encourage people with a range of artistic skills and experience to work together to promote an inclusive creative exchange and collaboration across the professional disciplines. To achieve this it will need to discover new resources and to form partnerships with other like-minded professional organisations. The key for A&A is to provide an infrastructure for artists to open the door beyond the existing process of deliberation, procurement and commissioning. The artists of the future will be highly motivated with different expectations and ambitions. A&A has an expanding grass roots network of members and offers a genuine alternative, inclusive and transparent channel of communication in the areas of community action, regeneration and redevelopment.A&A offers a direct and open portal to committed practitioners and emerging talents from the education establishments who eager, ambitious and passionate to make their mark. A&A provides an open network and access to the skills of these artistic innovators and lateral thinkers. In a modest way A&A is trying to make a meaningful and sustained contribution to the community as a national resource for a vibrant art, design and architectural culture. The new millennium can provide new hope for a climate of collaboration for a better environment.

Art & Architecture

The achievements of A&A as an independent voluntary association of committed practitioners are remarkable. A&A has organised over 100 public talks and events by leading practitioners within an annual programme of public lectures. A&A has produced 57 issues of an outstanding magazine devoted to public art and architecture collaboration. A&A has established a useful and informative web site that has attracted over 50,000 visitors within 12 months of its launch. As the first and largest organisation of its kind involved in public art, A&A has worked over the past two decades to provide information and make links to help raise public awareness, dialogue and critical debate on the relationship between art and the environment. A&A is constantly searching for new ways forward and intends to remain as a significant figurehead, not only promoting creative and innovative design opportunities but also to sustain high standards in the improvement of our environment. The Next Generation Forum was an important part of that process. The signs for the future are positive.

Graham Cooper July 2002

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