Art360 Foundation

Summary of activity

Art360 Foundation is an independent charity providing artists and estates with consultation and practical support in archiving and legacy planning. The objectives of Art360 Foundation are to:

  • Empower artists and artists’ estates to build accessible archives and resilient legacy strategies
  • Explore previously hidden aspects of the UK’s cultural heritage
  • Promote best practice for preserving contemporary art, particularly archives containing ephemeral material
  • Connect archivists, curators and arts professionals through engagement with artists’ archives and legacies.

They achieve these objectives through a range of activities including a bursary programme (the Art360 Programme), public events, the Expanded Archives Network and the Art360App. The Art360 Programme provides consultation and practical support to help artists and their estates build resilient archives and legacy strategies, whilst the Expanded Archives Network, run collaboratively with Hauser & Wirth Institute, enables resource-sharing and innovation around artists’ archives. Membership of the Expanded Archives Network is free and is open to international applicants. Members have access to workshops, events and opportunities. The form can be found here.

“Archives play an essential role in how future generations understand the work of British artists and their contribution to our wider culture. By supporting and encouraging artists to manage their archives effectively, Art360 Foundation is playing an invaluable role in safeguarding Britain’s shared cultural memory.”

Artist, Sonia Boyce

Image credit: Clare Hewitt

Challenges and opportunities

The Art360 Programme has been running since 2016 and in that time has evolved in response to challenges and opportunities. It has a team of two internal full-time staff members supported by two Artistic Directors and has grown from around five freelance archivists supporting the delivery of archival programmes to a network of over 50 Associates across the UK.

The programme provides consultation and practical support to help artists and their estates build resilient archives and legacy strategies. A mixture of self-funded and bursary places are awarded through an open submission process. To date 46 artists and estates have participated in the Programme.

Participants in the programme receive support over an extended period of up to 18 months, with archival activities delivered by specialist freelancers across the UK in areas including:

  • Conservation
  • Curatorial consultancy
  • Digitisation
  • Database implementation
  • Inventory management
  • Legal consultancy
  • Photographic and film documentation
  • Archive and artwork valuation
  • Website development


There is great demand for the work and it is not possible for Art360 Foundation to work directly with every artist and estate. Projects need to be prioritised and expectations managed in relation to what can be achieved with a small team. To overcome these challenges, Art360 Foundation have established a professional network for artists, curators and archivists and others who are actively working to protect arts archives, and have developed the Art360 app which is currently undergoing updates and will be available again on the app store and google play in due course.

The Art360 mobile app is designed to make archiving and cultural preservation skills available to all. It helps artists organise materials and shape the story of their practice independently. The freely available app provides a step-by-step guide to archiving with the process broken into manageable stages with checklists and videos from professional archivists.

Working with living artists and family estates can be complex and emotionally challenging. A family may not know what to do with a relative’s archive, especially in instances where they haven’t left a will. Their legacy can be exploited and Art360 Foundation is there to support people in this position. They put a lot of care and attention into relationships, working directly with artists to empower them and ensure they have agency in the formation of their legacies.

Outcomes for service users

The key outcome for participants on the Art360 programme is having peace of mind that they have addressed their legacy in their lifetime. The programme provides artists with an opportunity to explore their own practice within their archives and curate their own legacy.

‘Working with Art360 was an immensely positive experience that enabled me to start organising my work and make it accessible to both myself and others. Before I started everything was in chaos and lots of information, such as the title of a work or the name of an event, was not written down. Over the past couple of years, I have physically put my work in chronological order, digitised it, remade and photographed costumes and established a basis from which to continue archiving new work. Over this period, I became interested in the relationship between memory, material archives and digital databases, with particular relation to ephemeral practices such as performance.’

Hayley Newman, Artist & Art360 Awardee

 In addition to the impact on individual artists and estates the programme is ensuring that future generations will have access to significant artists’ archives which may have otherwise been lost.

Key learnings from the programme include:

  • Recognising that a significant proportion of the UK’s cultural heritage lives outside of the institution, within the homes, studios and private spaces of artists.
  • Artists’ voices are often absent from institutional narratives.

The Art360 App which was launched in 2018 has had over 700 downloads to date. Art360 Foundation continues to measure the impact of their programmes.

What was learned from the process?

The extended relationships which the Art360 Foundation have developed with artists and estates have been a particular success. This was made possible by not having strict parameters on the relationships and not being prescriptive. Through the programme artists and their family members can be working with very sensitive materials and in complex circumstances, and need support in that process.

By working with a sense of care and compassion, they have been able to deliver projects of real value, which connect with artists and their families.

There can occasionally be a clash between archival practices and an artist’s approach. Art360 Foundation see this as a good thing, it opens up conversation and challenges traditional thinking about what and who an archive is for. In 2021 Art360 Foundation held a three-day virtual event in partnership with The National Archives which explored the intersection between art and archiving. Artists were invited to interpret documents in their own way. Presentations from the event can be viewed here.

Art360 Foundation is building on these relationships to develop the Artists’ Legacies in the Museum project run collaboratively with the International Curators Forum. This project aims to engage museum curatorial teams with the archives of artists Vanley Burke, Donald Rodney and Maud Sulter in Birmingham, London and Glasgow. In doing so they hope to recalibrate how institutions collect, share and preserve contemporary art and cultural heritage for future generations. Learnings from the project will be shared through short films, a public event and a toolkit on creating presence for the legacies of Black British Artists in a museum setting.

‘The Art360 Foundation Programme encouraging and supporting artists to create their own legacy has been an enormous incentive for me to spend both the time and material funds to archive a large and multi-disciplined oeuvre. I find that archiving the work of a lifetime can illuminate forgotten areas of work and thought, thus inspiring new work, as well as providing for myself and others an organised and rich resource.’

Liliane Lijn, Art360 artist

Key advice

The key advice Art360 Foundation would give to anyone thinking of taking on a similar project is the need to look beyond formal qualifications. Having a qualification in records management is very helpful and it’s important to have foundational knowledge of archival management but projects will evolve in myriad ways. The Art360 Programme relies on both trained archivists and other archival practitioners and memory workers who can think creatively and strategically. They are able to consider what it means to be in the space with living artists and come to it from that human rather than a solely curatorial perspective. They understand the sensitivities involved in the project and work to ensure the artist is at the heart of the work, rather than an institution.

Another piece of advice for archivists is to make sure you are selective about volunteering, ensuring that any unpaid roles are feasible, useful and of genuine value to you and your development. It is important to know your day rate and therefore the value of your time and skills, particularly as an independent archivist. If you are working as a freelance archivist for an organisation then you should be paid for that work. Art360 Foundation recognises there is an ethical issue in the arts around volunteering which leads to inequalities in the sector and they are actively working to address this.

How will this work be developed in the future?

Art360 Foundation are looking to create a long-term systemic benefit through their work and build on the success they have had to date with the Art360 programme. There are a number of ways in which they plan to do this including a project which will consolidate the idea of ‘memory work’. Memory work is a term first encountered by Art360 Foundation in a publication by Michelle Caswell, ‘Urgent Archives: Enacting Liberatory Memory Work’, although the term may originate beyond this, and is used frequently in US contexts in discussions around Community Archives and ethics of care. It is considered to be a process of engaging the past which has both ethical and historical dimensions. Art360 Foundation are looking at partnering with higher education institutions and artist and community-led archives to explore this area further.

In addition, Art360 Foundation hope to expand their reach further by offering new bursaries to artists and estates with 50% of these being awarded to those who have been underrepresented in their lifetime. In 2022 they will also be collaborating with Turner Contemporary, Hauser & Wirth Institute and Tate Archive to deliver workshops and events on art, memory and archival practice in museums and non-institutional contexts. To raise the profile of artists’ archives outside the institution, Art360 Foundation also create documentary films exploring artists’ legacies, which can be viewed on YouTube.

Alongside this the Artists’ Legacies in the Museum project aims to change the way which museums are collecting, sharing and preserving contemporary art and cultural heritage, engaging and amplifying the work of independent curators, and placing artists at the centre of the conversation.


Find out more about this case study by contacting Ellie Porter, Head of Programme