Artichoke engages local communities through high impact participatory projects

Since 2006, 100,000 people across the UK have taken part in our Learning and Participation programmes.

Our aims:

  • Encourage people to explore their imagination through unique and accessible, participatory opportunities

  • Enhance teacher development and arts in the curriculum by providing education resource and activity packs

  • Create mentoring, employment and training pathways through hands-on placement opportunities

  • Support artists through career development programmes and commissioning schemes

  • Prioritise involvement in our participatory work from underrepresented artists and communities

“Coming here to do these things in the community is critical. Being from a deprived area, teenagers think only certain types of people go to galleries. If you can bring art to them in their own environment, then it becomes theirs."

~ Artichoke Audience Member, 2019 ~
Artichoke Summer School August 2023.
Assistant Producer Zafeerah Heesambee and participant at The Gallery Summer School, August 2023. Photo by Rob Hill

Lumiere, the UK's light art biennial

For each edition of Lumiere, Learning and Participation activities are integrated into the artistic programme, touching lives and leaving a legacy of skills and newfound creativity. Over the last twelve years, our producers and artists have worked with over 12,000 local people.

Lumiere also invites anyone over 18 to submit their brightest ideas for light artworks as part of the BRILLIANT national commissioning scheme. Those who are successful are supported in producing the works exhibited as part of the artistic programme, alongside work by internationally renowned artists. Other opportunities for participation include volunteering to help visitors have the best experience of Lumiere and several apprenticeships are available to those wanting to take the first steps to developing a career in events production. 


"Lumiere allows the local area to be exposed to the arts community inspiring more people to take an interest in the creative world."

~ Participant, Flowers and Chandeliers, Recycling Workshop, 2023 ~
Watchtower, Ron Haselden. Lumiere 2023, produced by Artichoke. Photo by Matthew Andrews

In 2023, the L&P programme engaged the local community with 316 volunteers, 1800 local residents and schoolchildren taking part in 5 projects including contributing to a majestic light wall of free expression, submitting illustrations for Colour the Castle and Watchtower, working with recycled material in Flowers and Chandeliers and being part of local project Diamond Garden.

Through educational and creative workshops and activities, we covered themes such as renewable energy, recycling and the justice system as part of Lumiere 2023.  

The L&P team also created an education and activity resource pack to support some of the artworks programmed this year. The pack focuses on learning about British Sign Language (Martin Glover’s Signed Light), the importance of recycling and renewable energies (Mick Stephenson’s Diamond Garden) and how to get creative with plastic bottles. Click the link below to download the pack for free. 

Lumiere 2023 – Education and Activity Resource Pack

On Blank Pages, Luzinterruptus

Spanish anonymous group, Luzinterruptus, worked with Artichoke’s Learning and Participation team to create the artwork On Blank Pages for Durham. Inspired by the connection with the original Magna Carter held in Durham Cathedral, the project focused on the UK justice system.

We invited those with lived experience, connections and opinions on justice to share their stories and thoughts. These responses, captured in the illuminated notebooks, form part of the artwork, while other pages were left blank for Lumiere visitors to contribute their responses. In total, we received approximately 600 pages of responses and opinions on the UK justice system, and this contributed to the 2000+ journals that were displayed on the final piece. The overall effect was a giant illuminated library and a snapshot of how people view justice today.

On Blank Pages, Luzinterruptus. Lumiere 2023
On Blank Pages journal entry.
On Blank Pages, Journal Entry, Lumiere 2023, produced by Artichoke. Photo by Beth King

The project came to life in workshops with 210 participants in groups across the UK including: Durham-based prisons, Durham University, UK refugee charities, youth and victim support organisations: 4Front ProjectSouth London Refugee Association, Catch 22, Salusbury World, Nejma Collective, NEPACS.

To ensure the thoughts and legacy of the participants lives on, the team created an online archive that displays some of the pieces created in the workshops, online submissions and selected pieces that audiences contributed to during Lumiere. Click the link below to explore hundreds of the responses on the Lumiere website.

On Blank Pages – Online Archive

Flowers and Chandeliers workshop
Flowers and Chandeliers, Learning and Participation Workshop, June 2023. Photo by Richard Rowell

Flowers and Chandeliers, Community recycling project

For Lumiere 2023’s community recycling project, we collaborated with 25 students from Durham Sixth Form Centre and New College Durham to become the artist. They took part in a series of workshops that taught them about working to a brief, learning about the technical aspects of working with light and outdoors and how to create for large-scale participation. From there, they designed and created several concepts that were shortlisted and then selected for the final pieces that became Flowers and Chandeliers

As part of the community participation, we ran workshops across Durham with over 500 participants taking part to help us create the two designs and also helped donate thousands of plastic bottles. The artwork used approximately 4,500 bottles!

Diamond Garden, Mick Stephenson

Through the creation of the piece, young people were educated on the evolution of energy, from the importance of Durham’s coal history to the value of using sustainable energy sources. Durham schoolchildren created their own solar light “mini diamonds”. In collaboration with OASES, Durham University Science Engagement and Redhill’s Durham, 120 young people from 6 Primary Schools across County Durham took part in the workshops.

The students took part in practical exercises to learn about the evolution of energy from coal through to renewables and had a Q&A with Mick about his art practice. The solar powered “mini diamonds” were crafted by the young people and suspended in Durham Cathedral’s College Green alongside Mick Stephenson’s Diamond Garden at Lumiere 2023. 

The “mini diamonds” were designed and created in-kind by engineer John Atkins from Kromek. The workshops were facilitated by OASES.

Close-up of mini diamond artwork hanging from a tree branch.
Mini Diamond, Lumiere Durham, produced by Artichoke, 2023. Photo by Beth King
A photo from a schools workshop in Northern Ireland for Season 2 of The Gallery. A group of young people sit in a classroom with piles of magazines on their work stations. They are creating collages in repsonse to the theme
Schools Workshop, St Patricks, Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, The Gallery, Season 2, 20 January 2023. Photo by Beth King

We engaged Turner prize winners, Array Collective, to run workshops in Northern Ireland. In addition, we worked in partnership with Fio and their young associate artist, Cara Walker, to run a succession of workshops with young participants from Global Majority backgrounds.

What We Do was created in collaboration with the artists, Becca + Clare, and a group of young refugees and asylum seekers from The Trinity Centre in Cardiff. Through the process, Becca and Clare ran several workshops with the young participants, fleshing out ideas of what ‘The State We’re In’ meant to them, whilst also evolving their creative skills through exploring various art mediums, including paint and screen printing which became the focus of the final artwork. 

Artichoke Summer School August 2024
Artichoke Summer School August 2023 - Photo by Rob Hill

The Gallery, 2023

Throughout 2023, we engaged young people across the UK as part of The Gallery Learning and Participation programme. The programme highlights the power of art in public space and provides inspiration and guidance for creating impactful public artwork.

For Season 2, our workshop series engaged communities and local artists across Wales and Northern Ireland as young people explored the importance and impact of public art, whilst also reflecting on the commissioned artworks from The Gallery. The artworks inspired young people to create their own artwork in response to the season’s theme ‘The State We’re In’.

'What We Do' displayed on a billboard.
'What We Do' (2023) by Becca + Clare. The Gallery, Season 2, 2023. Produced by Artichoke.

Season 3, Summer School

In August 2023, we held a week-long summer school for young people across London as part of Season 3. Young people delved into the world of socially engaged art, with inspiring trips to the Tate Modern, zine-making at Rabbits Road Press and Shoreditch Street Art Trail.

The group took part in creative workshops with artists Tasnim Mahdy, Sahra Hersi and Season 1 artist Nadina Ali. Throughout the week they created their own collection of artworks using a variety of mediums such as zine, mudrock, paint and collage.  

HERD, 2023

HERD was a ground-breaking collaboration between artists, musicians and hundreds of schoolchildren and community members. Our aim for HERD was to ensure that all corners of Kirklees were part of the project.  We engaged more than 2,000 young people who took part in a range of activities.

These included writing lyrics and recording soundscapes for the sheep, learning songs to perform at the HERD finale, creating textiles that were incorporated into the fleece of the sheep, graffiti workshops to participate in the HERD inspired mural and visiting several schools across Kirklees with Kindra, the young sheep.

On 16 July 2023, 311 performers took part in the final performance, including 60 young people from primary schools and youth choirs involved through the L&P programme.

HERD workshop
HERD workshop, July 2023. Photo by Beth King
School group are introduced to Kindra the sheep
HERD, Kinda's school visit, July 2023. Photo by Maeve McDonnell
Kindra's school visit as part of HERD
Kindra's school visit, HERD, July 2023. Photo by Beth King

Sanctuary, 2022

Sanctuary brought people together from across the area and provided opportunities for employment and training, working through community groups and local partners. Delivered in association with Coventry-based company Imagineer, 593 local people were engaged in the participation programme.

Through job centres, we recruited 17 participants in paid positions to work with artist David Best and his Temple crew.  As part of their roles, they worked as a team to learn basic carpentry and electrical skills to help build the intricately carved wooden structure in the Miners’ Welfare Park in Bedworth.

Visitors inside Sanctuary
Imagineer Artichoke – Sanctuary, Bedworth, May 2021. Photo by Andrew Moore

“It sounded really powerful, because a lot of the things linked in with my life and what I’d been through. When I got here [Sanctuary build site] to have a look around, I just knew this was where I was going to so spend every second I could.”

~ Becky, Sanctuary Build Participant ~

We focused the paid positions on long term unemployed who used the opportunity to up-skill and those who had been severely impacted by Covid.

412 participants from local schools and community groups took part in workshops to create designs that would be displayed in the final wooden structure. These workshops were not only an opportunity to be creative, but it allowed people to come together to talk about how they had been impacted through Covid.

Sanctuary was a project for the whole community, bringing people together after the isolation of lockdown and providing the opportunity to build skills, connections and confidence.

Behind the Scenes at the Sanctuary Build, May 2022


We are very happy to answer any questions.

If you need any further information about these opportunities, please get in touch with our Learning and Participation team at:



Children's drawing. Text reads: 'My hope for London'.
Artichoke Learning & Participation Workshop, London's Burning, 2016. Photo by Matthew Andrews. Text reads: 'My hope for London'.