A publicly accessible website will be home to digitised contemporary art in a major research and archiving project that will explore how cultural heritage in the visual arts can be safeguarded for future generations.
The work of 100 leading British artists will be the subject of three-year national project which will digitise work from both the contemporary period (2000-2014) and the ‘Modern British canon’ (1900-2000). The ‘Art360’ initiative aims to safeguard artists’ materials, create a public legacy — by making the works more accessible to everyone — and help provide a new source of income for the artists.
The pilot programme will work with 30-40 artists each year, who will be invited to participate in a major research project to explore how cultural heritage in the visual arts can be safeguarded for future generations. They will also be offered expert advice and technical support in developing sustainable systems to manage their legacies for the future. The Art360 website will host the story of the project and showcase previously unseen materials, such as drawings, documents and interviews that are discovered during the archiving process. In addition, a series of regional events and workshops are planned to celebrate and promote the idea of ‘soft cultural heritage’ and legacy planning.
The Art360 project is considered particularly timely, given that traditional models for art collection and preservation are seen to be disrupted by accelerating cultural and artistic trends, new technologies, and the global acquisition of works by British artists. Fears are growing that legacy planning for artists is not being systemically addressed and cultural assets are being depleted more swiftly than ever before. Director of Visual Arts for Arts Council England, Peter Heslip, has praised the project for addressing an under-appreciated problem for artists: “This initiative addresses the ‘ticking time bomb’ of important artists’ materials which are often fragile and poorly stored.”
The initiative is supported by an Arts Council England Lottery grant of £250,000, which will enable the DACS Foundation — which promotes visual arts for the public benefit by making grants, providing education and training, and organising exhibitions — to bring together the shared expertise of organisations such as The National Archives, Arts Council England, the Art Fund and The Henry Moore Foundation. Godfrey Worsdale, Director of The Henry Moore Foundation, said: “A key principle of the Foundation that Henry Moore established was that it should further public understanding of visual art and the Art360 intiative fulfils that ambition absolutely and in perpetuity.”