A co-operative art school? Flyer collage with plans of Conway Hall by Frederick Herbert Mansford, Conway Hall Humanist Library and Archives Digital Collections.

A co-operative art school? Workshops

A co-operative art school? Workshops

This series of workshops will explore potential models for a co-operative form of art education. The workshops are participatory and experimental, progressing through stages and open to anyone who would like to contribute. You do not have to come to all workshops, but if you can that would enhance continuity between sessions.

Zine workshop on co-operative art education

Sat, 23 Nov 2019, 2-5pm
Conway Hall Library, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
All welcome, please book your place

Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other. (Paulo Freire, 1996/1968, p. 72)

This workshop will be an opportunity to explore potential models of co-operative art education and co-produce a zine.

Mike Neary and Joss Winn have pioneered the study and practice of co-operative higher education in the UK as members of the Social Science Centre, Lincoln. In University of Utopia (2016) they provide a suggestive glimpse of what a co-operative university might look like. The Worker Co-operative Code by Co-operatives UK outlines the seven co-operative principles. The short guide to Setting up a workers co-op by Seeds for Change provides a summary of the process. Please download and read the texts in advance of the workshop.

We will begin the session with an introduction to the topic of co-operative art education and some questions that we can address during the discussion. Bring your own questions along! Tools and materials will be provided but please feel free to bring sketches, magazines and materials to cut up and produce a page for the zine. The pages will be assembled into a booklet and distributed in the library so don’t forget to come back and pick up a copy.


Self-organisation for co-operative art education

Thu, 28 Nov 2019, 6-9pm
Conway Hall Library, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
All welcome, please book your place

Collaborative groups share power, and healthy groups assure that their members have equal opportunity to earn social power (Starhawk, 2011, p. 125)

A workshop on self-organisation and collectivity in the context of alternative art education. The workshop will begin with a seminar on self-organisation and conclude with a workshop on leadership roles for leaderless groups, based on The Empowerment Manual: A guide for collaborative groups (2011), by the writer, teacher and activist Starhawk.

Please download and read the texts in advance of the workshop. They highlight aspects of group dynamics in collectives and groups, providing starting points for the discussion. We will unpack the concept of self-organisation and address a series of questions in the seminar, please bring your own questions along.

Jo Freeman’s article The Tyranny of Structure was first published in 1970 to address the need for organisation in the US women’s liberation movement. Alongside Freeman’s text we’re reading the page on Collectivity from the Radical Education Workbook, compiled in 2012 by the Radical Education Forum. Wilfred Bion was a British psychoanalyst, his study of group dynamics contributed to the evolution of group psychotherapy. Experiences in Groups (1961) is a record of observations from his work with groups that he believed might apply to society more broadly. Bion suggests that there are two groups present in every group, the work group which keeps the group anchored to its purpose, and the basic assumption group, which is mired in the tacit assumptions that inform behaviour within the group.


Constitution for a co-operative art school

Tue, 3 Dec 2019, 6-9pm
Conway Hall Library, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
All welcome, please book your place

And education is like liberty: it isn’t given; it’s taken. (Jacques Ranciere, 1991, p. 107)

Come along to contribute your ideas to a draft constitution for a co-operative art school. Using a series of questions as guidelines, we will collectively generate, articulate, debate and decide the values, principles, processes and working methods of an art school that is organised, structured and governed along co-operative values of autonomy, democracy, equality and solidarity.

A constitution is a collective agreement that outlines the aims and rules of a club, society or non-profit organisation. It is a written agreement of what the group does and how decisions are made. A constitution serves as a reference and it helps resolve controversies.

Please download and read the texts in advance of the workshop. Attendance to one of the previous workshops is highly recommended in preparation for this workshop but you can also prepare by doing your own reading and research.


A co-operative art school? is a research project on co-operative education, alternative art education, radical pedagogy, self-organisation and other dimensions of a co-operative learning environment. For more information and how to get involved please visit the main page. To receive updates please fill in the survey, add your email and tick the check box. The project is supported by an Artquest Research Residency award at the Conway Hall Humanist Library.