BA Art History and English Literature

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Making Art Public

Unit code SALC30062
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Art History and Cultural Practices
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Making Art Public is designed to provide students in Art History, Drama and Music with knowledge and understanding of the contexts and environments influencing some of the core practices at the heart of cultural organisations in the UK today.

Although artistic practice may differ across visual art, theatre, film and music, there are many shared practices and challenges faced by the cultural institutions that support these art forms and bring them to the public eye. These include shared intellectual/theoretical contexts as well as policy frameworks and bureaucracies.

Through the taught component and group discussions, the course will introduce students to the relevant historical, political and institutional frameworks and practices that cultural organisations negotiate within the sector. Students will then be given the opportunity to apply their knowledge and conduct their own fieldwork into a cultural organisation within Manchester, as well as work on a group project exploring the practicalities of writing up a project proposal with the view to applying for public funding in an increasingly competitive environment. Where possible, professionals and practitioners may be invited to offer guest lectures.


The aims of the unit are to:

  1. Enable students to gain an understanding and knowledge of the policy contexts in which cultural organisations operate, as well as the practical processes and practices of public engagement, marketing and evaluation
  2. Enable students to engage with the work of cultural organisations in Manchester and the North West critically and theoretically
  3. Better equip students for the opportunities and challenges of the graduate job market
  4. Create a unit that builds on and gives a distinctive profile to the academic and cultural convergences between the disciplines in the Division of Art History, Drama and Music.


Week 1: Introduction

What is the (public) ‘cultural sector’? What do cultural organisations do? Who are the ‘public’? We look at the history of the idea of a ‘public’ for art, including the positions of both advocates and opponents of widening access to art and culture (in the past and present).

Week 2: Organisations and Environments

We discuss organisational structures and hierarchies of arts and culture organisations and the various contexts and environments they operate: geographical (rural or urban topography and infrastructure); social (economic and cultural demography of the audience); and political (policy decisions and funding regimes) environments.

Week 3: Audiences, Engagement, Participation

We look at diverse approaches to attract and engage a public for art, including different theories and practices of education and learning, marketing, consultation and co-production. What are the ideological contexts in which particular audience practices are privileged? How are such practices adopted and managed within the organisation?

Week 4: Fieldtrip

We visit a local cultural organisation, where we discuss organisational structures, programming and audience engagement practices with members of staff.

Week 5: Funding and Fundraising

We explore the funding landscape in arts and culture, including processes, structures and practices of fundraising.

Week 6: Reading Week

Students work on their group project and individual essays

Week 7: Marketing and Communications

We discuss communication and marketing structures and processes

Week 8: Evaluation

What is ‘evaluation’ in arts and culture? How and what do we evaluate and measure the artistic performance and impact? We will examine the theory, policy and practice of evaluation in the arts, including recent and current developments.

Week 9 –11: Project planning / consultations / fieldwork

Students will be asked to work in groups on an imagined proposal for a creative project at/with a cultural organisation of their choice, which takes on board previous theoretical discussions on the course. They will then present their work as a group and submit a group project portfolio. Guidance will be offered by the course tutor at each stage of this assessment.

Week 12: Group oral presentations and portfolio submission

Teaching and learning methods

Blended learning, comprising mini-lectures, seminar discussions, group work and project planning

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the history, politics and practices of the presentation, interpretation and evaluation of visual art, music and drama for diverse publics (with a focus on the UK context)
  • Identify and describe a range of public engagement (including learning) and audience development strategies within the contemporary cultural sector
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the impact of various environments (geographical, social, political and economic) on programming and audience development strategies

Intellectual skills

  • Demonstrate a capacity to apply theoretical and critical concepts to the understanding and analysis of audience development and engagement in the contemporary cultural sector
  • Apply art form knowledge (visual arts, drama, music) to contextualise an understanding of the policies and programmes of cultural organisations
  • Use blogging as a tool for recording a research process and identifying issues arising

Practical skills

  • Gather and interpret data effectively through critical observation in the field
  • Communicate research material effectively through social media
  • Collaborate effectively with fellow students to deliver a research project by the end of the course
  • Develop oral presentation skills and public speaking confidence

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Demonstrate an awareness of institutional and policy contexts in relation to artistic programming and audience engagement
  • Apply practical skills and understanding of institutional processes to a range of professional, cultural settings

Assessment methods


Group project portfolio 2,000-2,500 words 20%


Group project oral presentation 15 minutes + 5 mins Q&A 20%

End of semester

Individual Essay 3,500-4,000 words 60%


Feedback methods

In accordance with SALC Policy.

Recommended reading

Abbs, Peter, Against the Flow: Education, the Arts and Postmodern Culture. London: Routledge, 2003.

Belfiore, Eleanora & Bennett Oliver, The Social Impact of the Arts: An Intellectual Historyshim, Basingstoke: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2008.

Bourdieu, Pierre & Darbel, Alain,The Love of Art Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991

Gardner, Howard. Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. London: Fontana, 1993.

Fleming, Mike, Arts in Education: a review of the literature. London: Creative Partnerships, 2008.

Hewison, R,. Culture and Consensus: England, Art and Politics since 1940 London: Methuen, 1997.

Holden, John, Cultural Value and the Crisis of Legitimacy London: Demos, 2006.

McGuigan, Jim, Rethinking Cultural Policy Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2004.

Robinson, Ken, The Arts in Schools. London: Gulbenkian, 1989.

Sefton-Green, Julian. “From Learning to Creative Learning: concepts and traditions.” Creative Learning. London: Arts Council England, 2008. pp. 15-26.

Tusa, John, Engaged in the arts I B Taurus: London & New York, 2007.

Winston, Joe, ‘Beauty, goodness and education: the Arts beyond utility’, Journal of Moral Education, 35: 3, 2006. pp. 285 — 300.

Woolf, Felicity. Partnerships for Learning: A guide to evaluating arts education projects. London: ACE, 2004. 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Tutorials 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Konstantinos Arvanitis Unit coordinator

Additional notes




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