TESTT Space: groundwork and experiment in a complex arts organisation

Hudson, Martyn and Donkin, Hazel (2019) TESTT Space: groundwork and experiment in a complex arts organisation. Arts and the Market, 9 (2). pp. 188-201. ISSN 2056-4945

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1108/aam-05-2019-0016

Abstract

Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to document and describe an omni-disciplinary ethnography of a complex arts and cultural regeneration organisation in Durham (TESTT Space). The organization and its art spaces are hybrid combination tools explicitly designed to test and experiment with ideas, social forms, human interactions and arts practice. Its ground or practice is a repurposed meanwhile space in a city centre embedded in a unique cultural landscape of local communities, a University and a World Heritage Site. The research attempted to understand its groundwork, its interactions and its civic mission and aspirations in a time of radical change and rupture.

Design/methodology/approach
The authors assumed an ethnographic approach, working with and within this organisation for a year, thinking of the research as embedded, intimate research and committed to social change. It was a work of co-production – working with studio-holders, curators, artists and facilitators using a range of triangulated qualitative research methods. These include structured interviews, auto-ethnography, ethnography of spaces, arts-led research, art as research and research as art.

Findings
TESTT Space has allowed both the retention of artists in the city and the propulsion of artists into the world. It has offered different ways of engaging in the complex lives of artists and curators, allowing them to test aesthetics and try out new social models. It has thought up its own network as a thinking practice, has developed its own politics, civics and imagined a set of new futures.

Originality/value
The paper documents interactions and aspirations, describing the lived phenomenological experience of being in this experimental space.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Experiment, Ecology, Experience, Multi-disciplinary, Hybridity
Subjects: L300 Sociology
L600 Anthropology
L700 Human and Social Geography
W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Arts
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2020 14:27
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2020 14:30
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/41833

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