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UNION was invited to facilitate the first national gathering of the Artworks Alliance in Liverpool in January 2020. UNION Director Adrian Sinclair worked with two recent UNION ’19 graduates, Freya Wysocki and Tom Edwards to lead a day based on ‘Open Space’ principles.

Artworks Alliance consists of participatory arts organisations from across the UK. It is a self-supporting network that aims to improve the work and status of participatory arts. The Alliance meets four times a year and this was the first time that they held a national gathering attended by 60 people.

The theme for the day was simple enough…


But a simple open question with a diverse group of people leaves them ready to respond with a myriad of possible answers.  Open Space Technology is the perfect facilitation method to use. It was developed by Harrison Owen back in the 1980s as a way of creating self-organising conferences. As he put it “My question was a simple one: Was it possible to combine the level of synergy and excitement present in a good coffee break with the substantive activity and results characteristics of a good meeting?”

There was a good energy throughout the day; lots of discussion, ideas and proposals. Of course it was winter so a number of people missed the day due to illness:

“I hear great things about the gathering, and was gutted to miss it. My colleague Ruth was buzzing with ideas afterwards.”

One of the great things about Open Space is that it also helps people to create an instant report on the day, accessible to all those who attended and people who couldn’t make it.

You can see the report here…


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