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Call for proposals — Engage Journal 44: Biennials and Beyond



Proposals are invited for Engage 44, which will focus on biennials relationships to gallery education and engagement programmes. Deadline for proposals: Friday 13 December 2019, 10:00 am

Edited by Sarah Perks

The outline below, stimulated by a discussion with the Engage Journal Editorial Advisory Board (EAB), is followed by a series of questions. Please address these or use them as prompts in proposals for articles.

Biennials have been part of the ecology of the art world for many years, with the biennial (or biennale as per the original Italian) becoming a shorthand for a recurring event that occurs in a specific place. The majority follow the lead established by most famous, the Venice Biennale, which since 1895 has set a precedent, not just of frequency, but of national participation and awards. And more importantly perhaps, it established a concept for regeneration, designed to reboot Venice as a tourist destination and to utilise an area of the city that needed repurposing.

Post-WWII, Germany launched possibly the most anticipated event in the international art calendar, Documenta (1955–), returning now every five years to Kassel, in the centre of what was then West Germany. In Engage 20: Strategic interpretation, Carmen Moersch describes how the role of education began to change during Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev’s 2012 edition.  The most recent Documenta (2017) developed extensive and intensive education programmes across Kassel and Athens (where it was partly held), led by their Head of Education Sepake Angiama (now about to take on the role of Director of INIVA after being at the Chicago Architecture Biennial). Some of this experience is captured in her publication Aneducation: Documenta 14, a sophisticated attempt to include a cross section of the contributors, described as:

“This is not a book of good intentions. It attempts to introduce a chorus of voices that speak from different positions on aneducation, the education program for Learning from documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel.” 

Several biennials from the 1980s onwards began to think about whose voices were included, and to contest the promotion of (Western) nationhood, modelling new forms of curatorial strategies and privileging artists from less well established art centres. The Havana Biennial (1984) is often remarked on as this changing point and Okwui Enwezor’s 2002 Documenta heralded as the first major post-colonial biennial and the first with an artistic director not from Europe. Enwezor will also be the first to posthumously curate a major Biennial, with his initial notes to be used for Sharjah Biennial 2021, ‘Thinking Historically in the Present’. The Biennial Foundation currently lists 260 in its global directory, although there are many more in smaller towns and regions across the world.  Europe’s nomadic biennial, Manifesta, even asked the question of its first Advisory Board: “biennials don’t work, so why start another?”

The UK has grown several well-established biennials including the Brighton Photo Biennial (2003–), Artes Mundi in Cardiff (2002֪–), Glasgow International (2005–), and the Liverpool Biennial (1999–). Until recently, the Liverpool Biennial was led by Sally Tallant — previously Head of Programmes at Serpentine and now Director of Queens Museum, New York — whose methodology underpinned the Biennial with research and education. These and other internationally focused biennales have brought a much needed diversity and debate to the UK context. With Brexit looming and anxiety around funding increasing, are we looking at fewer opportunities for international collaboration and dialogue — and therefore education — for the UK? In the autumn of 2020, the quinquennial exhibition called the British Art Show returns to tour UK cities, Manchester, Wolverhampton, Aberdeen and Plymouth, how will it deal now with the geographical definition implied of its title? New biennials include Coventry (2017–) established and ran by artists to lead up to Coventry City of Culture in 2021. Biennial culture seems to largely favour a city, or a seaside town (Whitstable Biennale (2002–), Folkstone Triennial (2008–)), so where does this leave rural areas? What are the successful models or equivalents that create impact and engagement with visual art across rural areas?

More recently there has appeared a trend for a regular biennial type event by issue or artform, including the British Ceramics (2009–) and Textile (2019–) Biennials, Asia Triennial Manchester (2008–), Yorkshire Sculpture International (2019–) and a forthcoming performance triennial in Scotland for 2020. The once every two years structure is also pervading more contemporary and cross-art form festival arrangements (for example Manchester International Festival), with the notion of spectacular event culture underpinning the once-every-four-years capital of culture bids across the UK. UK capital of culture was set up after the success of Liverpool becoming the European City of Culture, but what is the real legacy of these and other major initiatives such as the Cultural Olympiad of 2012?

Education and engagement programmes vary widely across biennials but are an important feature in most locations, with larger biennials including teams designed in the style of gallery-based activity including formal and informal fields, artist development, public debate and digital engagement. Some collaborate effectively with existing engagement offers or offer incentives for ‘local’ artists, in some part presumably to ensure their buy-in, and some offer curatorial roles specifically for education. Despite these moves, the infrequency of the ‘main event’ must present some significant challenges to creating sustainable and meaningful education programmes around biennials outside of institutions. The Critical Practices group at the Winchester School of Art, as initiated by Professor Robert E. D’Souza, have been working closely with the Kochi-Muziris Biennial (2012–) since its inception to study the ‘biennale effect’ and evaluate considerations of geography, local impact, politics, economics and more.

Biennials have a reputation for contradiction and controversy. They frequently attempt to address the burning issues of the day, hoping to break new waves or at least hit the zeitgeist, for example around issues of representation and issues of de-colonising the art world. This year’s Whitney Biennial saw artwork by UK based collective Forensic Architecture addressing, and protests concerning, the ‘tear gas’ company owner and museum’s vice chair Warren Kanders that led to his resignation. The biennial is a respected place for making the careers of artists and yet only this year did the Venice Biennial reach gender parity for men and women. They often represent an opportunity to experience a tremendous amount of new artwork for locals and visitors alike, and for professionals to share practice internationally. Of course, all of this requires travel. The 1990s saw a proliferation in cheap airlines which also aligned with the increase and spread of biennials across the globe, and this was also a time when UK arts communities became increasingly international in their focus and projects.

Climate change has become a concern for both the production and content of these events. This year Nicolas Bourriaud took on the environmental issues for The Seventh Continent (Istanbul Biennial 2019), a reference to the amount of waste floating in the ocean, whilst simultaneously claiming that ‘art world travel is just a drop in the ocean’ (The Art Newspaper, 12 Sept 2019),  instead accusing mass tourism and large corporations of causing the problem. Jérôme Bel, an internationally renowned choreographer who is also a regular of visual art biennials, quit flying completely in February of this year on the realisation he was contributing to ecological damage (The New York Times, 23 Sep 2019).  He has since been working via Skype to make performances happen in North America. If Jérôme’s example is replicated elsewhere, how will environmentally conscious policy begin to impact upon artistic and educational programmes of visual arts organisations and galleries? What are the environmentally friendly strategies and viable alternatives to travelling for biennials and events that also keep open vital cross-cultural dialogue?

Whilst biennials of the art world try hard to defy categorisation through their sheer diversity and breadth of scale, they are also united by often common reasons for existence and in their exploration of the new and for commissioning contemporary art. There is an urgent need to debate and evaluate further the role of education in these biennials and indeed consider their impact, value and legacy across a range of artistic, environmental and socio-political factors.



We are interested in contributions from colleagues in the UK and worldwide that concern the topic of biennials and other art events and specifically where this connects to gallery and visual art education. Proposals should address questions such as:

  • How do biennials effectively construct meaningful and sustainable education programmes and promote public engagement with visual art? What can we learn from examples from biennials and events internationally?
  • What have been the key developments for education and engagement programmes for biennials and repeated art events?
  • What has the sector learnt from evaluation methods and strategies, and what is the wider legacy of this work?
  • How have biennials worked alongside or integrated into existing gallery education programmes? What do sustainable models look like?
  • How has ‘spectacular art culture’ and its related programmes affected communities and a sense of place? How has ‘biennial regeneration’ worked in practice across schools, colleges, universities and other centres? Examples of where biennials have enacted successful methods of participation.
  • How will biennial culture continue a dialogue that addresses climate change concerns? What impact will developing environmentally conscious policies have on artistic and education programmes, and cross-cultural ambition?
  • How do biennales support and represent the development of emerging artists, curators and colleagues working in education and participation? What can biennials offer for work experience and career progression?
  • How can biennial type events impact in a hyper-local or rural situation?

If you are interested in contributing to this issue, please send an informal proposal of no more than 300 words, your job/freelance title and contact details to by Friday 13 December 2019, 10:00 am

Contributions may take the format of articles, interviews, collaborative pieces, conversations, photo essays or discussions, and engage welcomes those which take advantage of the Journal’s online format, through the use of sound or video clips, film and html links to digital content. As a guide, final articles lie between 1,500 and 3,000 words.


Issue timeline

  • Proposals deadline: Friday 13 December 2019, 10:00 am
  • Finished article deadline: Friday 14 February 2020, 10:00 am
  • Engage 43: Biennials and beyond (working title) will be published in March 2020


About the Engage Journal

First published in 1996, the Engage Journal is the international journal of visual art and gallery education. Now a twice-yearly online publication, the contents of each edition follow themes linked to the visual arts and education, chosen through an open-submission process. The Journal acts as a snapshot of current thinking on a subject, a repository of references, a source of practical ideas, and a forum for exchange between different parts of the art and museum and gallery community.

The Journal is edited by Sarah Perks, curator, consultant and writer. The Journal is governed by a voluntary Editorial Advisory Board. The Engage Journal is accessible to Engage members and subscribers to the publication.


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Reminder: Nominations for Marsh Awards for Excellence in Gallery Education 2019 close 9 September



Nominations for Marsh Awards for Excellence in Gallery Education 2019 close 9 September

Receiving the Marsh Award for Excellence in Gallery Education has been the highlight of my career so far. It has given me the confidence and the ability to say that I am at the forefront of gallery education and that can programme and deliver excellence!
— Marsh Award 2018 Winner

Do you know someone doing excellent and inspirational work in gallery or visual art education and learning?

Engage, the National Association for Gallery Education and the Marsh Christian Trust are delighted to announce that nominations are open for the Marsh Awards for Excellence in Gallery Education 2019. The Awards, which recognise and celebrate the achievements of those working in learning and education within gallery or visual arts contexts (freelance, salaried or as volunteers) in the UK and internationally, grant winners £500 to spend on their professional development.

This year Engage and the Marsh Christian Trust are launching a new annual Award to celebrate the lifetime achievement of a colleague who is working, or who has worked in learning or education in or for galleries or visual arts organisations in the UK. The winner will receive £500 to spend as they would like.

Nominations Deadline: Monday 9 September 2019, 10:00 am


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Join the Engage Scotland Development Group




The Engage Scotland Development Group (ESDG) operates as a voluntary steering group for the work of Engage in Scotland, influencing programming, supporting the Engage Scotland Coordinator’s role, representing the organisation and offering their experience and skills. 

Traditionally the ESDG has operated with three Area Reps who cover the very broad geographical areas of Glasgow and the West, Edinburgh and the East, and the Highlands and Islands. Area Reps are also members of the Engage Council. In addition to Area Reps the group has up to four voluntary or co-opted members. 

We currently have a vacancy for an Area Rep for Highlands and Islands/member of Engage Council.

This is an opportunity for an experienced visual arts/gallery education professional to be part of a lively group working to raise the profile of gallery education and visual arts Engagement in Scotland.

Current and previous members of the Development Group have enjoyed opportunities to further their own continuing professional development through helping to shape Engage Scotland projects such as the Celebrate ART project and advise on programming of training events and conferences, including this year’s Engage International Conference in Newcastle in November 2019. Group members value the opportunity to visit other gallery venues and to network and share with colleagues within the ESDG.

All travel expenses for attending meetings, including Council meetings in England, are met. We welcome applications from colleagues working in visual arts organisations/galleries and from freelancers and will be able to pay travel expenses and a small fee for freelancers to attend meetings. You are welcome to attend a meeting before deciding to join the group.

As an Area Rep for Engage you will:

  • Attend four ESDG meetings a year — these are usually half-day meetings, often in Edinburgh and Glasgow, occasionally further afield.
  • Provide support for the Engage Scotland Coordinator — usually through regular phone and email contact.
  • Represent Engage and help with the planning of events.
  • Comment and respond to papers as required.
  • Attend Engage Council meetings which take place three times a year, usually in England. These meetings are an opportunity to discuss the organisation’s policies and programmes, as well as hear speakers on agreed topics that are relevant to the sector and gallery education practice.

The benefits of being an Area Rep include:

  • An opportunity to input into the work of Engage
  • Being part of a network of peers involved in gallery education in the UK
  • Attending conferences and events for Engage

The benefits of becoming a Council member include:

  • 20% discount on conferences and training seminars in the UK organised by Engage centrally
  • The opportunity to input into national gallery education policy and strategy
  • Being part of a network of key people involved in gallery education in the UK
  • Advice and guidance on accessing key organisations in the UK and other countries
  • The chance to network with colleagues and form partnerships locally and nationally

Current members of ESDG are:

Area Reps

  • Tracy Morgan, Community Engagement Manager, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh — (Area Rep for Edinburgh and the East)
  • Holly Rumble, Freelance, (Area Rep for Glasgow and the West)

Voluntary Members

  • Lee McCulley, Adult Learning Officer, National Museum of Scotland
  • Janie Nicoll, Freelance artist/arts educator, member of Engage Board
  • Beki Pope, Freelance Consultant
  • Kirin Saeed, Freelance Equalities Consultant

Selection Process

Applications will be subject to the approval of the ESDG and the Engage Board. We aim to create a balanced group reflecting the membership of Engage in Scotland and a diverse mix of skills and experience.

About Engage and Engage Scotland

Engage Scotland is part of Engage, the National Association for Gallery Education,  promoting access to, enjoyment and understanding of the visual arts in the UK and internationally.

Engage Scotland represents the Scottish body of Engage members, responding to training and networking needs within gallery education with a Scottish focus. Engage’s programme in Scotland is developed and managed by a Scotland–based coordinator.

We work in partnership with other organisations in the visual arts sector to enable us to share good practice and learning in gallery/visual arts education more widely.

Engage Scotland’s programme is supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland.

Engage is the lead professional association promoting understanding and enjoyment of the visual arts through advocacy, professional development, research and projects and disseminating practice.

Engage has a membership of around 900, including c.270 galleries, museums and arts centres across the UK and in 24 countries internationally. Engage is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, has received Open Project funding from Creative Scotland for its programme 2018-20 in Scotland and receives project funding from the Arts Council of Wales.

Engage provides a platform for education professionals working within galleries, museums, heritage venues, schools and other community venues, to meet and connect through Area Group meetings, Engage events and the Engage website.


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Call for venues: Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award, Artist Commission 2020




Engage is delighted to announce that applications are now open for venues wishing to host the Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award, Artist Commission 2020.

Application deadline: 10am on Thursday 6 June 2019

Galleries, museums and visual arts venues throughout the United Kingdom are invited to submit proposals to host the 2020 Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award (ARMA), Artist Commission, worth £15,000. The Award in 2020 focuses on mental health and wellbeing of children and young people. The Award funds an artist (or artists) to conceive and deliver a project which engages children and young people. It is hoped the project will have an outcome such as an exhibition, performance, art commission or public sharing. A further £3,750 will be made available to the host organisation to cover their costs.

Applications are invited both from organisations with experience of working with artists on participatory projects or education and learning programmes, and those with little experience and for whom this would be a good opportunity to develop work in this area.  

To apply to host the Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award, Artist Commission 2020 please complete the application form in full and submit it by email to by 10am on Thursday 6 June 2019. Please use the subject line ‘ARMA 2020 Host Organisation Application’.



ARMA was established in memory of the artist Alexandra Reinhardt and is supported by the Max Reinhardt Charitable Trust. Engage has manged the award since 2012.

Artist Lindsey Mendick completed ARMA 2018 at The Turnpike, Leigh; Alison Carlier ARMA 2016 at aspex, Portsmouth; Anne Harild, ARMA 2015 at the Bluecoat, Liverpool; in 2014, Maria Zahle was hosted by New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester and in 2013, Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva was at mima, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art. For further information on ARMA 2013–2018 see:

For further information on ARMA 2013–2018 see:


About Engage

Engage is the lead advocacy and training network for gallery education, with some 870 members across 270 museums, galleries and visual arts organisations. Members include national, local authority and independent museums and galleries, and freelance education professionals throughout the UK. Engage has well-developed programmes in England, Scotland and Wales, and focuses on four areas of work: research and activities, continuing professional development, sharing practice, and advocacy. Engage as an Arts Council England Sector Support Organisation NPO, receives project funding from the Arts Council of Wales and is an Annual Client of Creative Scotland.


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Call for proposals — Engage Journal 43: Profession and Practice (working title)




The outline below, stimulated by a discussion with the Engage Journal Editorial Advisory Board (EAB), is followed by a series of questions. Please address these or use them as prompts in proposals for articles.

This year Engage marks thirty years advocating for and supporting visual arts and gallery education. Appropriately, this issue celebrates the development of the profession, and pays tribute to key figures that have conceived, developed and analysed gallery education pedagogies and practice. Given the maturity of the sector, it is not surprising that many of these key figures are enjoying retirement, pursuing personal projects or nearing the end of their formal careers; Sue Clive, Felicity Allen, Vivien Lovell, Jenni Lomax, Helen O’Donoghue, Veronica Sekules, Lindsey Fryer, to name a few.

While looking back, this issue also aims to pinpoint work that currently defines gallery education and what motivates people to enter the profession now. This year is a time to take stock of all that has been achieved, and what the sector values in moving into the future.

In the editorial for issue 35 of the Journal, which marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of Engage, Karen Raney described the context and conditions for the emergence of ‘gallery education’. The community arts movement and investment in cultural organisations for example, were crucial, but it was the vision and personal world-view of individuals that enabled the distinct practices to grow. These individuals included artists, art historians, curators, educators and academics “interested in the liberatory and inclusive agenda of community arts, de-schooling or feminism found their way into museum and gallery education … As gallery education is not statutory or regulated, and has no age progression, it was, and continues to be, seen as a site where greater educational freedom and experimentation can take place”.[1] Engage was established in 1989 to recognise and support this growing profession.

Thirty years on ‘gallery’ education — which always included museums — has burst out beyond the walls and is a rich and diverse field. Supporting schools and the curriculum has always been the foundation of education in museums and galleries aimed at resourcing teachers, providing experience of real objects and works of art, and enabling children and young people to access cultural institutions.

Looking back, Toby Jackson was appointed at Modern Art Oxford in the 1980’s, specifically to work with schools. He went on to be Head of Education and Public Programmes at Tate Liverpool 1988–1999, and Head of Interpretation and Education at Tate Modern 1999–2005 and throughout energetically promoted the importance of work with schools,[2] as have educators at numerous other galleries and museums internationally. The Arts in Schools: Principles, Practices and Provision,[3] commissioned from Ken Robinson by the Gulbenkian Foundation in 1982 has been enormously influential. Pier Arts Centre Orkney is also celebrating 30 years this year. Engage Board member Carol Dunbar is Education Officer and has set up long term relationships with local nurseries and schools.

However, the categories of practice have grown and expanded, through innovatory artists, educators and leaders of cultural institutions, with different areas of interest and expertise. Now gallery education embraces ‘socially engaged practice’ and ‘participatory practice’ — practice that has grown out of the community arts movement and through political activism to increase diversity of audiences, artists and the workforce, and a focus on specific artists’ practice. SPACE, a disability-led arts organisation, is currently celebrating its fortieth anniversary.

The aim to increase cultural diversity in all aspects of cultural life has been spearheaded by organisations such as Iniva and Autograph. More recently the LGBTQIA+ movement has come to the fore in recent years, given urgency by the high levels of mental illness in these communities. Giving agency to audiences has been a key objective.

This is by no means an exhaustive list and it is invidious to list names. It is important to recognise leaders — who have not been educators — who have supported and enabled gallery education to develop and thrive. This list includes Sir Nicholas Serota who has supported education as Director of the Whitechapel Gallery 1976–1988 and Tate 1988–2017, Declan McGonagle at the Irish Museum of Modern Art 1990–2001, and Professor Mike Tooby when curator at Third Eye Glasgow, Keeper at the Mappin Gallery Sheffield, before becoming the first director of Tate St Ives, 1992–1999.

The profession has also benefited from academic research and writing. People including Veronica Sekules and Maria Xanthoudaki, Carmen Moesch, Jocelyn Dodds, Eileen Cooper Greenhill and Emily Pringle have led critical debate, provided context and proposed frameworks for practice. A list could be lengthy but publications that have had a particular impact include Moving Culture by Paul Willis,[4] and Neither Use nor Ornament by Francois Matarosso.[5]

Engage and the Journal’s editorial board want to know who you in the profession regard as innovators, who have informed and inspired the work you do. The quick summary above is mono-cultural and dominated by women, so this Journal should seek out the other influencers in what is a generous and collaborative field.



We are interested in contributions from colleagues in the UK and worldwide that reflect on the development of gallery education policy and practice, highlighting the contribution of key individuals. Proposals should address questions such as:

  • What have been the key developments in gallery education practice in museums and galleries over the last 30 years and who have been the innovators?
  • Gallery education emerged alongside the community arts movement, which strove to effect social change and cultural democracy through the arts. In what ways have gallery educators been able to ‘make a difference’?
  • Who are the key figures that have shaped gallery education, and what are their lasting achievements?
  • What has been the role of leaders in galleries and museums who have supported education and participation?
  • How have path breaking gallery educators supported colleagues coming into the profession?
  • What areas of practice or specific projects are currently inspiring to gallery educators?
  • Citing examples of important gallery educators and others who have developed the field results in a monocultural list. Has the sector succeeded in diversifying the sector workforce to any significant extent?

Issue timeline:

  • Proposals deadline: 10am, Monday 3 June 2019
  • Finished article deadline: 10am, Monday 8 July 2019 (TBC)
  • Engage 43: Profession and Practice (working title) will be published in Autumn 2019

Entry Fee:

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