Kickstarter and Social Art Network Team Up to Support UK Artists

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The program will mentor 10 social practice artists in the UK as they prepare to launch projects this fall.

Filmmaker Ian Nesbitt's 'Taking The Michael'
Filmmaker Ian Nesbitt's 'Taking The Michael'

Kickstarter has always been a place where artists can share projects that engage with politics and society—projects that affect communities and environments, create dialogue around key societal issues, and enable social and political change. These ideas resonate with Kickstarter backers who value the platform as a place to support projects that break down political barriers and invite others to move towards change.

On Kickstarter in the UK, we’ve noticed a rise in social practice projects addressing urgent concerns about how we live now: the climate emergency, Brexit and our relationship with continental Europe, the refugee crisis, our ageing population, and the effect of government austerity policies on marginalised communities.

To continue to support this work, Kickstarter has partnered with the collective Social Art Network (SAN) to mentor 10 artists as they prepare to launch social practice projects this fall. “What better way to help our sector grow and be resilient than to use Kickstarter’s expertise to help drive community-driven projects towards collective and collaborative financial success,” says artist and SAN’s co-founder R.M. Sánchez-Camus. “This program only begins with these 10 artists as a pilot. We are aiming for long-term strategies that can help artists working in this field be resilient and self-sufficient. To have their efforts supported and to shine.”

For social practice artists in the wider Kickstarter community, we’ll also run a public webinar and share additional resources for creators.

Meet the artists

Get to know the 10 artists participating in the program, representing a wide range of practices and geographic locations around the UK. Over the next few months, they’ll work closely with SAN and Kickstarter UK to develop their ideas. In October, we'll share their live projects and celebrate with a final showcasing event in London.

Sharon Bennett and Sarah Dixon
Sharon Bennett and Sarah Dixon

Sharon Bennett and Sarah Dixon from Gloucestershire run The Women’s Art Activation System (WAAS), an artist collective aiming to support, explore, and promote women’s art by playfully appropriating models from corporate business, government, and healthcare.

Artist and writer Cath Carver explores the power of color to transform urban space and improve wellbeing. ART WORXX, her multidisciplinary art program will involve civic engagement, placemaking, photography, film, music production, DJing, and dance.

“We have never needed art more,” says John Davis. He created Wildfire Gallery, a traveling affordable art platform that engages communities through art and aims to change how the traditional art gallery is viewed and operates. Already touring the country, John will bring the idea to UK high streets, animating empty shops with these pop-up galleries.

Yara El-Sherbini and Davina Drummond
Yara El-Sherbini and Davina Drummond

Yara El-Sherbini and Davina Drummond and create playful, poetic and political artworks for world leading art venues and public organizations such as the Hayward Gallery, Great Ormond Street Hospital and the ICA. Kick Off is their social practice public art work, working with National Trust sites to establish two long term regional amateur adult female football teams.

Sally Laburn is a visual artist working with sculpture and drawing, film, print, and live performance. She co-leads The Drawing Shed, a DIY cultural space on two housing estates in London. Sally is creating Split|Forest, planting small forests across the country each with a “dividing split” to provoke action on climate crisis and pollution impact.

Lady Kitt is a maker, activist, and drag king, who uses paper cutting, performance and research to create objects, events, interactions. They are part of a collective of artists and activists based in North East England creating an international project disrupting, questioning and having fun with what a children's magazine can and should be. Disabled writer and activist Lissette Auton, graphic designer and queer artist Danni Gilbert, feminist curator, and Nasty Women activist Michaela Wetherell comprise the group.

Artist and filmmaker Ian Nesbitt is based in Sheffield and interested in landscape politics, walking as artform and community self-organizing. In Future Pilgrim, he will travel the Old Way on foot, taking a pilgrimage along the 250 miles of the south coast of England - a medieval route for European pilgrims - collecting the hopes and dreams of those he meets along the way for a better future society, and examining the UK's relationship with Europe. He’ll ask people to contribute to the quest with voices, feet and local knowledge by walking alongside him.


"I believe that there is a dire urgency for re-imagining our society in the UK and I believe that socially-engaged artists are in a unique place to take such work forward in our particular current social and political climate. We operate in the margins, in uncertain places and, at its best, socially engaged art has the capacity to coax new shared understandings out of the current darkness that shadows this country and its citizens." —Artist and Filmmaker Ian Nesbitt


Kay Adekunle Rufai
Kay Adekunle Rufai

Kay Adekunle Rufai explores the intersection between culture, identity, racial emancipation, and community cohesion through art, photography, educational workshops and public events. His current include S.M.I.L.E-ING BOYS PROJECT: portraits charting the impact of smiling on the wellbeing of young boys of color aged 13 to 18.

Shonagh Short makes work with and about working class women and communities. Her ongoing project Care Instructions explores the language of dirt as used to “other” people and place, the politics of cleaning, and the idea of socially engaged art as an act of care. She lives and works in North West England.

Edi Whitehead is an East London-based photographer, storyteller, and campaigner raised in Brentwood, Essex. They use participatory storytelling to document lived experiences and support communities to challenge the stereotypes surrounding them, previously working with female and non-binary footballers, UCL staff and students, residents of Peckham, and Hong Kong tower blocks’ elderly residents. In photography and project Portraits of an Essex Girl, they will examine Essex and its culture through the lens of gender.

Update 10/1/2019: All nine Kickstarter x Social Art Network projects are live now—view them all here.

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