Common Practice - Mission Statement–Common Practice, London is an advocacy group working for the recognition and fostering of the small-scale contemporary visual arts sector in London. The group aims to promote the value of the sector and its activities, act as a knowledge base and resource for members and affiliated organisations, and develop a dialogue with other visual art organisations on a local, national and international level. The group's founding members are Afterall, Chisenhale Gallery, Electra, Gasworks, LUX, Matt's Gallery, Mute Publishing, The Showroom and Studio Voltaire – together representing a diverse range of activities including commissioning, production, publishing, research, exhibitions, residencies and artists' studios.Position paper–Announcing the publication of a new research paper on the economy and value of the small-scale visual arts sector in the UKSize Matters: Notes towards a Better Understanding of the Value, Operation and Potential of Small Visual Arts Organisations is written by Sarah Thelwall, commissioned by Common Practice, London with support from Arts Council England.It seeks to articulate the value of the small-scale visual arts sector within the wider arts ecology. The paper explores the significance potential small-scale organisations have in the present cultural landscape and economy, also detailing the operational and investment challenges they face in realising this. Finally, it advocates a reconsideration of present assessment and investment practices.Size Matters was published in July 2011 and will be presented in a variety of forums to stimulate discussion around its core questions – whose urgency has increased in recent months.For more information and queries regarding the paper please contact the Common Practice members via our email < info AT commonpractice.org.uk >Download a copy of the position paper - Size Matters
If we can ever put particular contexts aside, though perhaps of thought within Scotland is:
"The group aims to promote the value of the sector and its activities, act as a knowledge base and resource for members and affiliated organisations and develop a dialogue with other visual art organisations at a local, national and international level."
Which initially sets out a hopefully broad and inclusive definition of 'value' beyond perhaps that which is economically realisable - immediate, deferred, unutilised, or otherwise. A definition which itself holds a lot of potentiality. Whether the political scope of that potentiality is fully realised in the research outcomes of the paper is another matter. As Art Monthly tell-it-like-it-is:
"While there are many interesting strands explored in the paper, one issue is not made entirely clear, and that concerns an aspect affecting the uneven landscape of organisations in terms of commercial opportunity. While it is noted that small organisations often commission risky, less obviously commercial art forms - as compared with larger institutions or commercial galleries - it should also be noted that this commissioning springs from a political ethos inherent within the commissioning organisations, and that this ethos precludes particular funding; it would not be possible, for example, for Common Practice member Mute magazine to accept sponsorship from BP, at Tate Britain does, or private banker JP Morgan, as the Serpentine Gallery does. Hence the move towards philanthropic giving and sponsorship, which the coalition government is so keen on, is likely to disadvantage small organisations even further."
Small is Beautiful, Art Monthly, Sept 2011, 349