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Rebecca Hartley

An Enquiry Into Artist Development (AD): Using Castlefield Gallery (CG) as a case study, can an understanding of AD inject a new perspective into the debate around the value of the arts?


My research aims to to capture, analyse, critically evaluate and contextualise artist development practices using methods that include participant observation and interviews.

This research is an outcome of the pilot study Analysing Artists’ Continual Professional Development (CPD) in Greater Manchester report (Alison Slater et al., 2013). The report aimed to spark a conversation about artist development, questioning the ‘provision’, ‘long term impact’, and ‘notions of career success’ in AD (Slater et al., 2013) of CPD. Building on this, the present research will look into the recent origins of AD in arts policy, attend to how it is conceptualised and (re)produced by different players within the arts ecology of GM; consider why and how its impact might be evaluated by those within and outside the field, and link AD to the wider debate about instrumental versus intrinsic ways of valuing the arts.

Castlefield Gallery (CG) has been working to develop contemporary artists and practice since 1984. CG has found an increased need to understand what ‘artist development’ terminology means. Currently, there is little research or literature critically exploring artist development,  despite the term being used in documentation produced by national arts policy makers such as Arts Council England. The research will use Castlefield Gallery as a case study and as a nodal point through which to access arts networks throughout Greater Manchester.