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Arts Council Chairman Gerry Robinson
"It really does bring art to peoples' lives in places and ways that they're not used to"
 real 28k

The BBC's David Sillito
"Much of the art has been weird, wonderful and decidedly odd"
 real 56k

Writer Jenny Davis
on taking workshops with Kosovan refugees in Reading
 real 28k

Tuesday, 22 May, 2001, 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK
Year of the Artist hailed a 'success'
Kosovan children who worked with ceramicist Stephen Dixon (Photo: Tim Allen)
Kosovan children who worked with political ceramicist Stephen Dixon (Photo: Tim Allen)
A 4m art initiative has reached more than 25 million people in England over the last 12 months, according to organisers.

The Year of the Artist scheme brought millions of people into contact with 1700 artists nationwide.

The aim of scheme was to raise the status and profile of living artists - working as individuals, groups or companies - across all art forms.

The lottery-funded scheme took artists out of seemingly elitist venues such as museums and concert halls, and into football grounds, onto public transport, into supermarkets, banks and the workplace.

'Dead': Artist Rose Finn Kelchey's contribution
'Dead': Artist Rose Finn Kelchey's contribution (Photo: Tim Allen)
Contact was in the form of visiting an artist's website, or having personal contact with an artist.

Since the scheme began in June 2000, organisers claim they have broken down social and class barriers by placing the participating artists in residence at various venues.

The artists have dealt with contemporary issues such as foot-and-mouth, refugees, racism and health.

In one event, called A La Cart Art, a fleet of dustcarts decorated with artwork and poetry visited 36,000 homes in the Cotswolds.

Tragedy

Sharon Morgan and Dagmara Childs designed hats which were modelled by Faye Tozer of Steps.

Web artist Michael Atavar was artist in residence at The Guardian for six months as part of the scheme, and produced a special four-page handout for the newspaper, which included three "electronic prints".

There has been tragedy as well as success. The Willow Man by Serena de la Hey, a well-received 40ft sculpture was recently burnt in an arson attack.

The sculpture stood by the M5 at Bridgwater, and was also known as The Angel of The South.

The 40 foot high sculpture was the largest of its kind in Britain until it was destroyed in an arson attack.
Artist Serena de la Hey with The Willow Man sculpture
It was made of locally grown willow and was the largest of its kind in the country.

David Johnston, chief executive of Arts 2000, which organised the events, said the Year met its objectives of helping artists as well as the public.

"The key thing that people wanted was to established a new sense of artists' value in society," he said. "I'm sure we have stimulated a debate that will go on for years."

He said that its aim was also to introduce artists to new partners.

"We've had a lot of commercial organisations who would never think of doing anything with an artist now saying, we'll have another one and we'll pay for it this time."

Support

It is down to the governments and the Arts Council to continue funding such projects, he added.

"It's already very clear that they are looking much more to support individual arts projects in the future."

Arts Council chairman Gerry Robinson confirmed that such schemes will continue to receive support although the Year is ending.

"I think it's a key role and it is a real way of breaking down the barrier that exists when you mention art," he said.

"You're trying to get people to think of art as part of their daily lives rather than as some elitist thing which is 'not for me'."

The Year of the Artist ends on 31 May, to be concluded with a week of more than 30 new events starting on 24 May.

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See also:

02 May 01 | Arts
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15 Mar 01 | Entertainment
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