NewsSocial Art Summit


An Artist-Led Review of Socially Engaged Arts Practice in the UK and Beyond
1st & 2nd November 2018

Over two-days artists from around the country came 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 were invited to join the conversation through a series of events at Site Gallery and other venues around the city.

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 play?

The programme included a series of artist-led labs; presentations by international guests; workshops; discussions; film screenings; a publication launch; plenty of opportunities to network and share practice, and a whole host of diverse work presented by artists and practitioners.

Artistic Director, Emily Druiff joined Sophie Hope as they explored questions including where, how and why do we store our practices? How are social art practices remembered? What conversations do past traces have with the present? Taking a proposal emerging from long-term conversations between Sophie Hope and Peckham Platform for developing a Social
Art Resource, the lab explored collectively issues of space, access, inclusion, exclusion, governance and the possibilities and limitations of such an archive/resource.

Artists leading labs also included Harold Offeh, Anna Francis, Elsa James, Rebecca Beinart, Sally Labern [Drawing Shed], Studio Polpo and international guests Black Quantum Futurism & Interference Archive.


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.