Fourth International Conference on the Arts in Society
28-31 July 2009
Venice, Italy


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Arts Conference 2008

Welcome to the website of the 2008 International Conference on the Arts in Society. The 2008 Conference will be held at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (part of Birmingham City University), Birmingham, UK from 28-31 July 2008. This year's Conference will address a range of critically important issues and themes relating to the arts in society. Main speakers will include some of the world’s leading thinkers in the arts, as well as numerous paper, workshop and colloquium presentations by researchers and practitioners.

Participants are welcome to submit a presentation proposal either for a 30 minute paper, a 60 minute workshop , a jointly presented 90 minute colloquium session, or a virtual session. We also encourage presentation formats that are innovative, such as roundtables, staged dialogues, screenings and performance components. Parallel sessions are loosely grouped into streams reflecting different perspectives or disciplines. Each stream also has its own talking circle, a forum for focused discussion of issues.

Conference presenters will include contributors in all areas of the arts - artists, educators, graduate students, curators, writers, theorists, researchers, and policymakers - as well as presentations in all disciplines (visual, performing and literary). This is a conference for any person with an interest in, and a concern for, art practice, art theory and research, curatorial and museum studies, and art education in any of its forms and in any of its sites. All are encouraged to register and attend this significant and timely Conference. Accommodation options are also available.

Participants may choose to submit written papers before or after the conference for possible publication in the International Journal of the Arts in Society, a fully refereed academic journal. Virtual participants also have the option to submit papers for consideration by the Journal. All registered Conference participants receive a complimentary online subscription to the Journal when registration is finalised. This subscription is valid until one year after the Conference end date.

If you would like to know more about this Conference, bookmark the Arts Conference site and return for further information ─ the site is regularly updated. You may also wish to subscribe to the Conference and Journal Newsletter.

For all inquiries, please contact the conference secretariat.


The purpose of the annual Arts Conference is to create an intellectual frame of reference for the arts and arts practices, and to create an interdisciplinary conversation on the role of the arts in society. It is intended as a place for critical engagement, examination, and experimentation of ideas that connect the arts to their contexts in the world, on stage, in museums and galleries, on the streets, and in communities.

The theme of this year’s Conference is Art as Communication. Its scope is deliberately broad and ambitious. Our times demand nothing less than cross-disciplinary and holistic approaches. The breadth of the conference and its accompanying journal, however, are without prejudice to finely grained discussion of the specific, the local, and the grounded practices.

British Arts and Design has a long and often challenging history, which has positioned it firmly at the forefront of innovation. Artists and Designers have developed a range of individual practices, but often have a shared view of history and theory. Artists and art schools have also influenced as well as being influenced by developments in science and in society. This can be seen in the interface of new technology, in the way conceptual thinking from the arts influences the messages and narratives of a range of visual communications from book publication, internet content to the film, music, theatre and in advertising.

This international conference wishes to present the range and depth of activities from both leading individual practitioners as well as examples of inter and cross disciplinary work. We are interested to also see examples of developing models of research as well as teams and individuals. We aim to gather together to celebrate and advance the range of praxis and thinking in the field.

This conference aims to discover what values, instincts, and common ground may exist within the art and design schools both in the UK and around the world. It will bring people together to exchange and consider ideas celebrate experimentation, and to encourage individual exegesis.

The Arts Conference is held annually in different locations around the world in conjunction with local arts events. The Conference was held in conjunction with the Edinburgh Festivals, Edinburgh, Scotland in 2006; and the Documenta Festival, Kassel, Germany in 2007. The 2007 International Symposium on the Arts was held in conjunction with the Armory Show in New York and in co-sponsorship with the Center for Art and Public Policy, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, New York, USA.

The International Journal of the Arts in Society

Presenters have the option to submit papers to the International Journal of the Arts in Society, before the Conference and up until one month after the Conference. Papers submitted for publication will be fully refereed. The publication decision is based on the referees' reports.

For those unable to attend the Conference in person, a virtual registration will provide participants access to the electronic version of the Journal, as well as the option to submit papers for refereeing and possible publication. For more information about the Journal please visit the Publish Your Paper page.



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Who Should Attend

  • Artists.
  • Art educators
  • Exhibition participants and organisers.
  • Art writers.
  • Arts policymakers and advocates.
  • Arts administrators.
  • Curators.
  • Community cultural workers.
  • Media specialists.
  • Academics and researchers in the arts.
  • Students and faculty in all art-related fields.

Conference Organisers


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