Arts Cabinet is a Charity registered in the UK. Our mission is to advance education in the arts and culture.

Our history

For a period of 2 years from 2013, Arts Cabinet actively engaged with partners across the Middle East, North Africa (MENA) and Europe, to understand how to build a proposition that would support art and research collaboration and cultural knowledge production, in ways that would ensure non-instrumentalised, forward-looking, and open engagement. In that period, we saw artists and cultural communities in the region at the forefront of re-thinking the relationships between art, issues, and social change. We witnessed how enquiry into art and critical issues was a stimulus to creative exchange.  We engaged in events that confirmed that the process of collaborative enquiry into art had the power to bring people together and connect them with common concerns, place and time. A need was identified for an organisation that could enable this process of collaboration between artists and researchers, make knowledge accessible in different ways, promote learning, and broker network opportunities.

Our mission
Arts Cabinet’s mission is to generate, research, understand, disseminate, and promote the importance and value of the knowledge that emerges from contemporary art practices. We make the content of our projects as accessible as possible to audiences with an interest in art and research, art education, and cultural policy.  We do so through events, online learning, digital documentation and dissemination and publications.

Our activities

Artist+Researcher Fellowships: We forge collaborations between artists and researchers. We work closely with artists and researchers to support their collaboration and ensure that their work take place in a spirit of artistic and academic freedom. We collect, document, and disseminate the content of the collaboration to audiences both digitally and through traditional channels.

Research: We are developing a research programme on the question of art, research and social cohesion.  We are planning a a conference on this topic in 2020.

Special projects: these are long-term, one-off projects that are additional to our main activities.

Online learning: we are developing a range of online learning products which will be  educational and provide skills development for practitioners.

Our community of practice
We work with a global network of researchers, artists, practitioners, educators, activists, and independent experts. We also work in partnership with higher education and cultural institutions, such as galleries and museums, that are interested in presenting our work or taking part in projects we develop.

Arts Cabinet has received support from the following institutions, national and international, that have contributed to the development of the organisation by funding specific activity: Scottish Government, Mimetathe University of Edinburgh, British Council Tunisiathe University of Agder, The Royal Norwegian Consulate.  We are equally grateful to the following organisations for their invitations to conferences and workshops: The Kamel Lazaar Foundation, More Europe, The Prince Claus Fund. We also thank Creative Scotland for their support in research and development, which was crucial at a very early stage in the formation of the organisation.

Arts Cabinet, the name
The name Arts Cabinet is inspired by the legacy of the curiosity cabinet in contemporary art, in particular in artistic and curatorial practices which are influenced by categorisation, classification and archiving, alongside the random selection of objects and ideas. Here, the concept of Curiosity draws on Michel Foucault’s analysis of the word in ‘The Masked Philosopher’. Curiosity “…can also evoke ‘concern’, the care that one takes for what exists and could exist; a readiness to find strange and singular what surrounds us; a certain relentlessness to break up our familiarities and to regard otherwise the same things.”
The association of Arts with Cabinet is meant to evoke a juxtaposition between artistic curiosity and academic rigour as a basis for engaging critically but also imaginatively with the world around us.