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We want to tear up the rulebook that decides what a centre for contemporary arts should be.

Arnolfini has been a place for imagination and bold new ideas since 1961. This centre for contemporary arts has been the fuel for change in Bristol and embraced change, and now it’s time to do so once again. 

New types of arts organisations are being imagined to respond to the ways in which culture is being produced and experienced. The Victorian institutions of the museum, gallery and theatre are being stretched and pulled in new directions and more relevant and dynamic visions are emerging. 

In autumn 2017, we undertook a conversation with our visitors, participants and partners asking: What would your new rule for a 21st centre for contemporary arts be? We received over 2,000 contributions - many of which are being displayed in our building. 

As we grow the new Arnolfini, these new rules are helping us to shape how the new Arnolfini can be a place of imagination, open and inclusive, dedicated to internationally significant arts and an engine of creativity for Bristol. 

Arnolfini Podcast: Imagine New Rules

Our podcast series featured artists, producers and partners considering what their new rule would be: 

Episode 1. Claire reflects on the opportunity to re-imagine arts organisations of the future as catalysts for the imagination and social change. 

Episode 2. Claire is joined by writer, historian, curator and performer Edson Burton who treats us to a reading of his specially commissioned text 'Imagine New Rules'. Claire and Edson then discuss broadening access to the arts, and the importance of relevance and exchange across the city.

Episode 3. Claire is joined by Nick Young, Creative Director of Creative Youth Network in Bristol, and Maisie Evans, who is one of the young people involved with CYN. They talk about the importance of dialogue, connections, creating networks and collaborative process. 

Episode 4. Claire is joined by Bristol performance artist, producer and compere Tom Marshman. They talk about Tom's artistic practice, residencies, artist support and the experimental performance ecology in Bristol.

Episode 5. Claire is joined by artistic director of CommonWealth, Evie Manning. They talk about what it means to be open, collaboration and the value in sharing knowledge and expertise.

Episode 6. Claire is joined by Bristol's Mayor Marvin Rees. They discuss the essential need for artists to be at the table in the planning of future cities; the role that arts and culture can play in telling the stories of individuals, communities and places, and importance of heritage and individuality in the face of globalisation.

Episode 7. Claire is joined by David Jubb, the artistic director and CEO of Battersea Arts Centre. They discuss David's use of SCRATCH in organisational decisions and public performances, inclusivity and how to make the public feel at home in arts centre. 

Download episodes on Soundcloud


Participant from Elmfield School in Theaster Gates, Sanctum, Bristol 2015, Photo: Max McClure 

What If? Reimagining the Role of Cultural Institutions as Agencies of Change in Cities

On Friday 20 October, Arnolfini led a morning of discussions that brought together cultural leaders and producers who are testing out new ways of programming, collaborating and effecting change in their cities.

The event was part of the Festival of the Future City in partnership with the Festival of Ideas