How and why was Artichoke founded?
Nicky and Helen met in 1989 when they were both working for LIFT (the London International Festival of Theatre). They continued to work together on projects such as the free Arts and Events programme at Canary Wharf and then the Salisbury Festival. They set up Artichoke with the aim of bringing The Sultan’s Elephant to London. The company continues with the aim of producing extraordinary arts events in public places.
What are Artichoke’s guiding principles?
Artichoke believes in the power of art to transform places and perspectives.
We work with artists to produce amazing experiences that stay in the memory forever. Removing all barriers to attendance is at the heart of everything we do, which is why all of our events are free and happen in public places.
Read Our Manifesto.
When will the next Artichoke project take place?
I have an idea for a show, will you produce it?
Artichoke produce large scale, ambitious events that take place in public spaces and are accessible to the public. If you think your idea fits the bill, you can email details of your proposal to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please include a short summary of your idea as well as a more detailed plan. We look at every proposal sent to us, but we may not always be able to give personal feedback.
How much do your projects cost, and who funds them?
Our projects vary in cost from £350,000 for The Telectroscope to £2m for La Machine. We receive core funding from Arts Council England. However, we always need to raise money from other sources. We approach trusts, foundations and businesses. We also instigate partnerships with local authorities and businesses. For example, as our Lumiere Hotel Partner, The Radisson Blu Durham provided our team with a discounted room rate to stay at the hotel during the event.
Occasionally we co-produce events, such as Sanctuary which was created in collaboration with the Coventry-based company Imagineer.
As a charity, we also rely on the generosity of individuals donors. If you like what we do, you can make a one-off or regular donation. With a regular donation of £60 per year or more, you will become a member of the Artichoke Hearts, a circle of our closest friends and supporters.
How many projects do you produce each year?
We don’t set ourselves a target for shows: after The Sultan’s Elephant in 2006 we did not produce another show until The Telectroscope in 2008. This is because of the huge amount of organisation and preparation that is needed for each project. Our events undergo a lengthy development process, which sometimes results in our production schedule changing.
I'd like to produce The Sultan's Elephant / La Machine / One & Other in my home town - what should I do?
Can I work for Artichoke? Or get work experience?
We advertise any vacancies or work experience opportunities on this website here. You are welcome to send us speculative CVs, which we will keep on file.
Why does it take so long for you to make your projects?
Often our projects are on a larger scale than more traditional art events that take place in theatres or galleries. They require a huge amount of preparation and it can take a lot of time to raise enough funds to make them happen. We go through an extensive pre-production process to ensure that our projects are viable, will appeal to large audiences and are of the highest quality. Our shows also involve working with numerous other organisations, such as city councils, emergency departments and local businesses.
What impact do your projects have on cities?
Our projects aim to give people a fresh perspective of a place. Our events are closely tied to the places in which they are produced: for example Crown of Light at Lumiere Durham was commissioned specially for the Cathedral, and artist Ross Ashton utilised that building’s history in the son et lumiere display. By illuminating a site, or setting it in a different context, we try to cultivate new appreciation of a place. Our work also has tangible economic benefits. For example, during La Machine Liverpool experienced a 615% increase in footfall, while Lumiere Durham 2015 generated an estimated £9.6m of economic benefit.
How sustainable are Artichoke’s projects?
Artichoke is committed to working collaboratively with our commissioners and the local community to deliver a sustainable and environmentally-conscious projects.
Artichoke is also signed up to Vision: 2025, a network of over 500 outdoor events and businesses taking climate action towards net zero.
What is the funding breakdown for your projects?
The amount of funding we receive and the source of our funding varies for each project, but it is usually a combination of grants from Arts Council England, statutory funding, sponsorship and support from trusts and foundations.
How are budgets broken down across your projects?
The budgets for our projects vary depending on the scale of the event. Likewise, the key costs are determined by the nature of the project. For example, one of the main costs for One & Other was staffing, because we needed teams in Trafalgar Square 24 hours a day. In contrast, much of Lumiere’s budget is spent on commissioning pieces for the festival and on stewarding the event.
How do you capture data on how many people attend your projects?
For events such as The Telectroscope and Dining With Alice we had exact numbers from the tickets sold. However, Artichoke’s events are usually unticketed, and as such it’s very difficult for us to gauge exact audience numbers. In the case of One & Other, we could estimate potential audience numbers because there are statistics on how many people pass through Trafalgar Square each day during the summer. For The Sultan’s Elephant and La Machine we relied on local authorities’ expertise, on the police and on BBC estimates.
How do you measure the impact of the work you create?
We commission an independent evaluation for most of our projects. The results of these evaluations usually addresses where people have travelled from, how much they have spent and how they rate various aspects of the event. From this data we can tell how far-reaching our marketing is and which demographics the event appealed to, as well as what benefits were gained for the location.
What conditions does your Arts Council funding come with?
Artichoke is classed as a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) by Arts Council England, which means that they fund us over a period of time rather than on a project by project basis. Arts Council England has standard conditions for all their grants. We have to deliver an artistic programme that is agreed with Arts Council England, and we have to credit them in appropriate ways and send them regular financial information. Find more information about Arts Council England’s NPOs.
Will you come and give a talk at my school / college?
Artichoke’s Director, Helen Marriage regularly gives talks about our work. To enquire about talks and panel events, please contact us at email@example.com.
Can I interview you for my dissertation?
We are unable to meet with everyone who asks us. However, we have designed this website – and this page in particular – to be as useful to Artichoke researchers as possible. Please take a look round the site, and if there’s something that you need to know and can’t find here, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to help.
How can I get the latest Artichoke news?