Yorkshire & Humber Contemporary Visual Arts Network (YVAN)

Yorkshire & Humber Contemporary Visual Arts Network is a project investigating and recommending ways to strengthen our region’s Visual Arts sector.

We are creative practitioners, independent professionals and members of visual arts organisations within the region who volunteered to work on behalf of the sector when invited by Arts Council England Yorkshire in 2008.

The Deer Shelter at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (© James Turrell / Photo interior: Florian Holzherr).

Since then we have consulted widely with colleagues like you and from others in non-arts sectors; we have invited tenders and commissioned essential work from specialists. We have held events featuring invited speakers, action planning workshops, and even a bus tour of the region. We have worked in Dalby, Gargrave, Hull, Leeds, Richmond, Scarborough, Sheffield, Thirsk, Wakefield, York and points in between.

Throughout we have met monthly to oversee the development of a 'Strategy for the Visual Arts in Yorkshire and Humber', intended to help galvanise and strengthen the visual arts sector regionally within a changing national context.

‘Turning Point’ is the Arts Council’s 10-year strategy for strengthening the visual arts in England, in partnership with the visual arts sector. As part of this process people working in the visual arts across the country have been coming together to form regional steering groups with a view to defining and delivering a shared vision for growth and change. A national network of these groups is currently being established.


Turning Point (2006) is the Arts Council’s 10 year strategy for strengthening the visual arts in England. In Yorkshire, Arts Council England (ACE) hosted two sectoral meetings in the winter of 2008-9 which established 5 themes or work areas for the Turning Point initiative in the region:

1. Coordination and governance of the initiative;

2. Interchange 1: to devise and begin implementing a programme of visits and exchanges to inform the Strategy, and build relationships within the sector;

3. Interchange 2: to devise and begin implementing a programme of events that enable discussion and collaboration with key organisations and agencies from other sectors;

4. Learning Ecology: identification of options for a programme to address skills, career development, and leadership, and identify connections with complementary initiatives and the Higher Education sector; and

5. A Yorkshire Project: Exploration of options as to how a major collaborative regional project or projects might help to strengthen and raise the profile of the sector. 

In March 2009, responding to a brief from Arts Council England, Yorkshire, several regional agencies and individuals were commissioned to undertake work covering the 5 themes in an initial exploratory phase of the Turning Point initiative from April to December 2009.

Beam, in collaboration with MAAP, undertook themes 1 and 3 to 5, and three curators - Anna Reid (Pavilion), Clare Lilley (Yorkshire Sculpture Park), and Sarah Brown - undertook theme 2.

The Turning Point Interim Steering Group (ISG)

Following the sectoral meetings organised by ACE Yorkshire in winter 2008-9, an Interim Steering Group was drawn on a voluntary basis from the sector to guide activity in the initial phase.  Its role is to reflect the interests of visual artists, organisations and audiences in overseeing the production of the new Strategy. The Group has been meeting monthly in venues around the region since April 2009.

Current Steering Group members include:

Sue Ball - MAAP

Anne Cunningham - Art House - Acting Chair

Rick Faulkner – Chrysalis Arts

Clare Lilley – Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Steve Manthorp - Coordinator

Louise Miller - Leeds College of Art

Steve Pool - Independent

Robert Powell – Beam

Laura Sillars - Site Art Gallery

Daniel Cutmore - Arts Council England - observer

Mark Smith - Axis - Treasurer

Sara Trentham, Independent

Laura Turner - York Art Gallery

Karen Watson  – East Street Arts



Julia Bell – National Coordinator, Turning Point Network