An Artist-Led Review of Socially Engaged Arts Practice in the UK and Beyond

1st & 2nd November 2018, Sheffield

Convened by Social Art Network

Over two-days artists from around the country will come together to share practice, showcase

work and explore what it means to be making art through social engagement right now?

Artists, activists, community groups, curators, students, academics, funders and sectors

working in the social realm are invited to join the conversation through a series of events at Site

Gallery and other venues around the city.

Through building a network, showcasing practice and expanding dialogue, the Summit will

develop agency in the field of art and social practice and test the ground for launching a Social

Art Biennale in 2020.

Ten years of severe austerity measures together with the wider divisive political climate has

triggered a sense of urgency for conversations around the impact on communities. We are

interested in questioning, what kind of society do we want to live in and what roles can artists



In 2016 artist and filmmaker Eelyn Lee was selected by Artquest to convene a group of artists

with socially engaged practices to form a Peer Forum at Peckham Platform. These sessions,

with twelve artists, triggered urgent conversations around the need to de-marginalise the

practice, leading to the idea for the Social Art Summit.

In 2017 Eelyn and fellow peer forum artist R.M. Sánchez-Camus [Marcelo] co-founded Social

Art Network (SAN), a base from which to realize these ideas. Eelyn and Marcelo are working

collaboratively to co-convene the Social Art Summit; build an artist-led network; expand

dialogue and develop the first ever Social Art Biennale. SAN aims to build agency for artists

and communities making art through social engagement whilst developing new audiences for

the work both nationally and internationally.

Sheffield based artist Ian Nesbitt is this year’s guest co-convener of the Social Art Summit.

Social Art Network has been developed through the volunteer labour of artists interested in

social practice.

Over the next two days...

Artist-led Labs

The core of the programme is a series themed artist-led labs. The idea behind the labs is to create frameworks for dialogue that reflect an artists’ practice. Eight artists have been invited by SAN to devise 2 hour labs around a specified theme. Guests contribute to the Lab including professionals working in the field of arts and the social realm. 

Open Call

16 artists were selected from over 100 submissions who will run workshops, lead discussions

and share practice in a diverse range of ways including Davina Drummond and her Temporary

Tattoo Parlour; Kerry Morrison’s invitation to discuss ethics and Ania Bas sharing a card game

that helps players think and critically about practice.

Discuss & Exchange

In this programme strand delegates are invited to join conversations initiated by presentations

of practice.

Key Presentations

On Day 1 a welcome note by Co-conveners Eelyn Lee and R.M. Sánchez-Camus (Marcelo), with Guest-Convener Ian Nesbitt will welcome delegates and contextualise the event. On Day 2 Rasheed Phillips of Black Quantum Futurism presents         Re-Imagining the City. All Delegates encouraged to attend. 

Film Screenings

Key films from selections of artists from SAN and Open Call running throughout the screening room times

Food & Drink

Lunch provided by Open Kitchen a weekly community event focused on providing food, support, and a place to meet for destitute asylum seekers, refugees, those in need in the wider community. Drinks receptions include the launch of Social Works?:Open with contributing writers reading selections of text. 

Venue List  


Access Space
3-7 Sidney St, S1 4RG

Bloc Projects
4 Sylvester St, S1 4RN

21 Eyre St, S1 4QW

Persistence Works - Yorkshire Artspace
21 Brown St, S1 2BS

S1 Artspace (former building)
Scottish Queen
 21-24 South Street
 Park Hill Flats Hyde Park S2 5QX

S1 Artspace [gallery]
1 Norwich St, S2 5PN

Sheffield Hallam University
Dorothy Fleming Lecture Theatre (Room 12.0.06)
Charles Street S1 2ND


Site Gallery
1 Brown Street, S1 2BS

Theatre Deli
202 Eyre Street, S1 4QZ

108 The Moor
108 The Moor, S1 4PD

Delicious Clam

12 Exchange St, S2 5TS

Sheffield Cathedral
Church St,  S1 1HA

Out of City Centre:

TINGAS Tinsley
Siemens Close, S9 1UN

Sheffield Children’s Hospital

Main Atrium, Clarkson St,  S10 2TQ

 For online maps please visit:

Accessibility Information


  • All 3 of our main daytime venues – Site Gallery, Theatre Deli and S1 Artspace – are fully accessible with accessible toilets.
  • All summit venues are wheelchair accessible. More detailed accessibility information about all venues is available on request.
  • All venues are listed on our website and a map is also provided, with all venues marked. A physical fold-out map will also be available at the registration point, with distances marked.
  • All venues are close to each other and close to the train station. The greatest distance from venue to venue is 1 mile (or 20 minutes average walking speed) between Theatre Deli and S1 Artspace. The exception to this is Tinsley Tingas.
  • Front-of-house staff and summit volunteers will be on-hand to support.
  • If you have specific access requirements please feel free to contact us before the summit:


  • Social Art Summit operates a ‘relaxed spaces’ policy in all sessions, talks and workshops. This means that attendees are free to move around the space as they wish or need.
  • Babies and children are welcome in all sessions.
  • Where possible, a quiet space adjacent to where the session is taking place will be provided.
  • We are unable to offer BSL interpreters for sessions. Where possible and/or appropriate, we will endeavour to provide transcriptions and notes to accompany sessions. If you are interested in this option, please contact us via the email address below prior to the summit.
  • If you have other specific requirements or questions, please feel free to contact us beforehand:


  • Please contact us beforehand with any food allergies or specific dietary requirements.

Please feel free to email with further questions. If you wish to speak to someone please address emails to our access co-ordinator Ian Nesbitt, and leave a telephone number.

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Safer Spaces Policy

Social Art Network is committed to dialogue, active listening, cooperation, sharing, solidarity and empathy in developing the voice of artists and creative practitioners in the sector.  With a commitment to diversity SAN seeks to include all artists and creative practitioners dedicated to socially engaged practice regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, age and national status, and any areas where each of these might intersect. 
Through the Social Art Summit we operate and conduct our presentations and discussions in a safe welcoming space both online and in real time. Our guidelines for the Summit are inspired by the Occupy movement and suggestions for improvement are always welcome.  SAN has made every effort to make the event spaces and timetable as accessible as possible to the widest range of people.

  1. Racism, as well as ageism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, ableism or prejudice based on ethnicity, nationality, class, gender, gender presentation, language ability, asylum status or religious affiliation is neither accepted or welcome.

  2. Both physical and emotional boundaries must be respected including explicit verbal consent before engaging in any physical contact with someone or crossing personal boundaries.

  3. Bring an awareness of the space you hold, the positions and privileges you bring, including racial, class and gender privilege and how these may affect others.

  4. Never make assumptions on the opinions and identifications of other participants without kindly asking first and then engaging in active listening.

  5. Make every effort in your interactions with others to not judge, look down on another or enter into competition.

  6. Be aware of the language you use in discussions and exchanges and how this relate to others.

  7. Work together to foster a spirit of mutual respect: Listen to the wisdom everyone has to share.

  8. Give generously to each person the time and space to speak and share their thoughts and ideas. In discussions raise your hand to speak, do not interrupt others, and be kind with your words.

  9. 'Respect the person; challenge their behaviour.'

  10. There agreements are shared by attending the Social Art Summit. If someone violates these agreements a discussion or mediation process can happen with the help of another delegate, depending on the wishes of the person who was violated. If a serious violation happens to the extent that someone feels unsafe, the offending party can be asked to leave the space and/or event all together. Those present can nominate the person or process that can mediate if needed.

  11. Adhering to these agreements are a collective responsibility and everyone is individually responsible for checking their own behaviour.

2019 and beyond...

The dream of the Social Art Summit is to pilot the world's first Social Art Biennale. 

In preparations for this Tate Exchange will host a post-Summit Tank planning session in the Spring of 2018 to work through the themes, conversations, debates and points that emerge and with them prepare the groundwork for the Social Art Biennale in 2020. 

Dates and times will be announced to delegates through our mailing list. All delegates will be welcome to attend and bring their collective thinking, imagination, energy and goodwill to help make this a reality. 

See you in 2019


If you have any questions about the Summit or SAN, please get in touch via email:

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This year’s Social Art Summit would not be possible without the generosity and support of our funders and partners

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