Since they opened in 2009, David has been the Lead Artist and Programme Co-ordinator of Chapel Arts Studios.

The conversion of the once-dormant chapel was managed by the Test Valley Arts Foundation, with the intention of supporting emerging artists, and providing outreach programmes for the Andover community.

Chapel Arts Studios want to support and encourage experimentation, practice and the exchange of ideas. The artists involved with the studios all share a common ground of flexible, process-based work, whether this is painting, video, sculpture, drawing or installation etc.

Alongside the development of the studio work, Chapel Arts is also committed to engagement with the wider community, and has developed exciting programmes of education, workshops and events.

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One of the first major programmes to be implemented was the introduction of an internal residency. The Educational Project Residency (EPR) is designed to help new graduates in the transition from student to professional, providing them with:

Skills in proposal writing
Improved communication
Enhanced CV
Project Management
Collaborative understanding
Work Experience
Jobs in the creative sector
Evaluation experience

It is a bespoke process that builds a six-month relationship between a school and the new graduate. The time scale is non-prescriptive, and treats the residency as a ‘window of opportunity’ to be used in countless ways.  To continue building a two-way positive relationship with the nearby art-college, Winchester School of Art (WSA) CAS takes it’s new graduates exclusively from WSA. Each artist gets support and mentoring from CAS, and recently it’s achievements have been recognised by WSA, who now provide full studio-fee bursaries to the successful applicants.

In our first four years, we have worked with many schools, colleges and universities across the region, as well as partnered and collaborated with events and organisations such as Salisbury International Arts Festival, 2012 Cultural Olympiad, Artswork, One World Week, Creative Partnerships, Pallant House Gallery, Artsway, artists-newsletter, Winchester’s 10 Days festivals, World Book Night, artSOUTH and Hampshire County Council.

This year we have also recruited a group of twenty Associate Artists. Their divergent practices and talents have enabled CAS to greatly extend its reach and capabilities, and were instrumental in our successful application to become one of the few South East Regional Arts Award Development Hubs.

To enable this growth,  the overall strategy employed from the outset  was to focus foremost on organisational relationships. Through a period of successful projects with dozens of partners, the growing reputation and reach of CAS increased the capability to draw artistic involvement and develop an active creative hub in the Test Valley region.

After evaluating the initial years of CAS, and weighing the various strengths and weaknesses, Dixon refined the output of CAS into a more focused approach, resulting in two core directions: Education (Artswork) and Artistic Activity (Dissent)

1. Artswork.
CAS has strong social and educational commitments. Working as service providers with Artswork, CAS places artists into schools across the Andover region, with the intention of skill sharing with teachers, delivering Arts Award projects, and contributing towards schools attainment of Artsmark Gold. The CAS Educational Residency Project (EPR) offered to graduates is also an Arts Award project. CAS is now a South East Region Arts Award Development Hub, and has used the funding to create a new position of Hub Coordinator, held by CAS Associate Deborah Skinner, and to provide Arts Award Training for CAS residents and Associates,

2. Dissent.
A recent viewing of the Victorian Chapel’s architectural plans at Hampshire Records Office revealed its origins as a Dissenters Chapel. This serendipitously inspired a unifying direction for CAS. Dissent in all it’s flavours will be used as a creative and experimental methodology for on-going projects. By having an on-going, flexible umbrella structure for CAS activity, Dixon intends to stimulate an environment that supports continued growth and involvement. The diversity and footprint will grow, as does the increasing number of external participants. To facilitate this new area of investigation CAS has also appointed CAS Associate Lydia Emma Heath as a Dissent Programme Coordinator.


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