In 2024, Heart of Glass turns 10. Birthdays are times of reflection. After a decade of bringing together artists and communities to creatively share and explore, we wanted to refocus on what we do and why we do it. The development of this strategy as a team, supported by long term associate Chrissie Tiller, provided us with an opportunity to do just that.
As a publicly funded arts organisation, it’s easy to fall into the trap of understanding what we do in relation to our funders’ values, desires and priorities. Funding agreements can become pseudo business plans, and leave little room for the unknown, the-not-yet-known, or indeed space for us to reimagine or challenge!
Understanding our purpose
It has always felt important for us (Heart of Glass) to understand our own motivations so that we can enter into partnerships and collaborations with a clear sense of purpose. This began with our first forward strategy, A Modest Proposal (written in 2016), now updated from the perspective of many years of thinking, practice, research and relationships, and a very different world…
Heart of Glass was born in 2014. Six years into the first phase of austerity at a time when the arts and partner organisations across the third sector were diminished but determined. Now as we approach 2024, exhausted by continuous upheaval, what we are certain of is uncertainty. That has been our only constant across the evolution of Heart of Glass. And we are reminded ever more of the importance of connection and strength we can find in community.
It is for this reason that the road map we present is not focussed on milestones and targets, but rather values and processes. To support the work of artists and communities we must create space for that to happen. To do that we must listen, and be open to sharing and receiving. This is why, within our Building Blocks strategy, you’ll find empty pages or “Blocks” to hold a space for what we do not yet know and what we might understand together.
Living our values
We are committed to operating in solidarity with our community, working towards a fairer, more just and more caring society for all. Although we are a small organisation, we recognise we are part of something bigger. Our programme only works because we work alongside a wider ecology of people who care at a local and trans-local level. We will keep putting our values of care, collaboration and challenge, as well as collective action at the centre of everything we do.
Looking to the future
We recognise the many crises our society, our communities and our planet face, the inequalities that grow, and the histories we are grappling with. And we continue to believe that art, and the making of art together - more than ever - is both a necessity and a space of possibility, and a right worth fighting for.
This roadmap is where we are today, but we will be somewhere else tomorrow.
Building Blocks was developed through combined research across our team, and with partners, communities, artists and through our projects and project evaluations. It was edited by Chrissie Tiller and Patrick Fox in 2022.
Images: Radka Dolinska and Stephen King
Design: Dave Darcy