The success of Who Cares? for Lakeland Arts led to a second commission – the supporting of a co-produced, 10 week, pilot program and piece of research: A Centre of Attention. ACoA responded directly to the findings of Who Cares? work, namely a public and progressive space co-produced with Lakeland Arts that was free and open to all.
A Centre of Attention coalesced around its own manifesto (drawn up by its creative council) and a program that changed weekly with each contributor having control over a gallery space at Abbot Hall. I was invited to make the launch installation within which I facilitated staff development sessions and project reflection.
A Centre of Attention is not that radical, but it and the attempt seized the moment – rather than ‘talking themselves out of it’ there was a willingness to try something new. Abbot Hall has tended towards a rather traditional approach largely because of its very recent history and perceived expectations/interests of their visitors. Yet one visitor was heard saying that he welcomed the interruption that ACoA offered and wanted to be challenged…. Although ACoA might not be radical or new, it was a bold step for Abbot Hall. It has begun the process of cultural change and sparked the ignition ready to enable staff to think differently……
Dr H Rowley
Ian Read for Lakeland Arts
Dr Harriet Rowley
Art Council England