Artcar project – self-organising in art


The ArtCar project was meant for developing a common entrepreneurship course for Fine Arts curriculums in the Nordic-Baltic educational region. Its goals were to expand employment opportunities for graduates of Fine Arts faculties and to provide practical professional experience to increase access to employment or the creation of new job opportunities. ArtCar was constructed based on the practices of three different university representatives, the knowledge and experience of three different exhibition space representatives, and the ideas and wishes of students and other supporting parties.

In 2015 there were not enough basic courses in entrepreneurship and the creative industries in Estonian Academy of Arts Fine Arts departments. (We define the Fine Arts department to include students who study painting, printmaking, sculpture, installation, new media, drawing, and animation.) In the Estonian Academy of Arts only one semester-long course was offered, and this in the animation department at the MA level. Worldwide, youth unemployment figures (ages 15-24) have not changed significantly over the last decade, nor are they expected to improve in the next few years. The youth unemployment rate in EU countries for May 2017: Greece – 46,6%, Spain – 38,6%, Italy – 37%, Finland – 20.4%, Estonia – 18.3 %, Sweden – 17,4%, Lithuania – 12.5%, Denmark – 11.1 %

We chose the Nordplus Horizontal project, because the aims of the Horizontal project shares the values and ideas of our project.
We create a cross-sectoral education network between universities and project spaces, which are mostly NGOs, because project space or artist-run space management is one option for starting alternative entrepreneurship. NGOs have practical experience of entrepreneurship to share with students, and some team members may even have studied Fine Arts (e.g. the Rundum Project Space in Estonia, where all team members from the project space are photography students). Exhibition spaces provide guidance and opportunity for students to obtain an inside view of entrepreneurship and project space management.

We created a network between universities which were interested in updating their curriculum, increasing employment opportunities among Fine Arts graduates, international collaboration through shared practices, and developing a creative industries course for Fine Arts department in the region.

We created a network between exhibition spaces which were interested in exchanging best practices, creating international projects, cooperating with universities (being guest lecturers), and contributing their knowledge about bringing together entrepreneurship, creative industries and fine arts.

ArtCar project is a collaboration between:

Estonian Academy of Arts

The Royal Danish Academy of Arts, Schools of Visual Arts

Vilnius Art Academy

Lithuanian Interdisciplinary Artist Association

Rundum Artist-Run Space

Diakron platform-studio

Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center

Years Exhibition Space

This course is funded by Nordplus Horizontal



Vilnius Academy of Arts used the draft sent before the course. They had 28 Fine Arts students, both BA and MA, including cultural managers who worked in larger groups. The course was led by Elena Grudzinskaitė, Rasa Kavaliauskaitė, and Daina Pupkevičiūtė. On the first year the course got a great feedback from the students, so there was no need to change the content of the course for the second year.

During the courses, lectures were conducted on a variety of topics important for working in the arts, as well as aspects of self-organisation and the local art field. All this knowledge had to be used in the development of students’ personal projects that combined a practical action plan and an idea plan. Projects did not have to be realized during the course, but it was required they be thought through in detail. Project progress was discussed in seminars and presented at the final meeting.

Seminars: Students presented their interests in self-organising connected to their artistic practices, discussed their thoughts in seminars, gathered material, made sketches, wrote idea plans, and considered practical aspects of realizing their projects (location, permissions, funding, technical support, communication, etc.).

The Estonian Academy of Arts took the same draft for the first year and on the second it emerged with a course led by Elin Kard (gallerist for two Estonian Artists’ Association galleries, Hobusepea and Draakoni, and Vice President of the Estonian Artists’ Association), and it became a compulsory entrepreneurship course for the MA level.

Estonia had fourteen students and the course topics were same as in Vilnius Academy of Arts. Great emphasis was on planning personal budgets, requesting funds from the Estonian Cultural Endowment, Estonia’s most-used method of funding artistic activities. Progress of the projects was discussed personally with the course leader and presented to her only.

The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Visual Arts

First year, 14 meetings of 3 hours each, running from early January to late-June. The course took the form of a working group, and consisted of a mixture of short presentations, readings, site-
visits and conversations. Students’ own practices were a central part running through the entire course. They were asked to bring a current or new project, or their practice at large. The key thing was that they brought something they wanted to share and work with for the duration of the course. There was no demand beyond that of figuring out ways of bringing parts of their practice into the collective setting.

The overall aim of the course was to discuss a more differentiated and open way of thinking and practicing art. Students were asked to write a resume, an artist statement, funding applications, etc. That is, ways of relating and engaging with the art world and beyond. In full, this is a question of what kind of life one wants as an artist. This way of thinking artistic practices, can be called systemic, organizational and structural. When talking of how one might relate ones practice to new entities, it reflects back on ones understanding of what ones practice is or can be, what makes it distinct, from other modes of existence, what makes artistic practice distinct from other practices. The course was led by David Hilmer Rex (Diakron platform-studio)

Second year, also 13 meetings of three to six hours each, depending on the topic and the activites (visiting museums, galleries, artist studios). The course was a low-practice course about the unavoidable crust that forms around one’s art production when one graduates from the academy. The course consisted of mapping the art world, project initiations, writing applications, visiting the Danish Art Council, budgets and financing, visiting three galleries, and reviewing CVs and portfolios. Parallel to the theoretical part, everyone started to develop their own personal projects and presented them in Nida (Lithuania) where we had our networking and presentation event. The course was led by Ditte Soria and Anna Margrethe Pedersen (Years exhibition space).

Students’ final projects

● An online channel with weekly animated episodes 
● An artist group working with the topic of sustainable materials in architecture ● Site-specific installations in public spaces A concert-screening

● Community building in Vilnius districts: creative workshops in a variety of districts in Vilnius
● Zine Jam “Marmelade”: 20 artists selected through open call gather in a specific space and creates zines for 48 hours straight on themes related to the city/space where the jam is happening.
● “Mission: Siberia” creative workshops
● Socially integrated project “Chain”: a project to raise awareness about homeless dogs by attracting people to a building where street art is being made while inside an interactive installation on homeless dogs takes place
● Collaborative, sight-specific art project
● Yoga rave in Morocco: project aims to organise yoga rave parties (discos without alcohol and drugs) in Morocco
● Exhibition “Aesthetics of Social Failure” in project space Studium P (Lithuania): project aims to prepare a manual on safe behavior on social networks and also to create an exhibition on the theme. ● Kurk Kurk – creative printmaking and bookbinding workshops that are led through one year (2016) in festivals and cultural institutions

Copenhagen ● personal projects for Rundgang 2017 ● applications or artist statements ● project about the Baltic Sea and the North Sea which will be exhibited in Great Britain ● applications for financing the reconstruction of a former artist-run project space at Charlottenborg ● project about historical cultural exchange between Lithuania and Denmark.

A crash course was held in Tallinn January 4-8, 2016. This was led by Kulla Laas and Aap Tepper (Rundum Artist-Run Space) with 23 participants from Denmark, Lithuania and Estonia.

The objectives were: 1) Provide necessary practical tools for carrying out one’s art practises 2) Encourage the start of own-initiative projects and see art projects as more than something based on the institutional gallery system and existing infrastructure. Instead work with a goal to create a new situation according to one’s own needs and desirable working conditions.

To develop/imagine a plan for an initiative/project/organisation/event/artist group/festival/etc. that develops, improves your working/living conditions

The first part of the week was more theory oriented and the latter concentrated on mapping ideas and group work. During evening seminars students showed great interest in each other and from this we saw a group emerge. On the last day we summarized the ideas students had worked on. Two major lines of interest emerged: 1) the idea to start a student-driven network, and 2) to start a collaboration between the academy galleries. The underlying topic that came out of the course was that students wanted to look outside of their small art scenes (bubbles) and thought that meeting and collaborating with students from other schools would be help their practises progress.

Levels of experience in such a large group of students varied a lot, which made it hard to get to a single, specific outcome. Some of the students had already been doing self-initiated projects for a while and saw the intensive course as a way of networking and finding new collaborations. The course was a good way of sharing experiences by introducing individual initiatives. The crash course didn’t work as planned, because not all the students who participated in the crash course continued with the main course later on.

During the project partners’ meeting in May 2016, we decided to make the intensive networking- and presentation-oriented course after, and not before, the main course. We hoped that when the students already brought their own projects, they could find partners by presenting them to each other at the Nida Art Colony.

ArtCar project’s presentation and networking event in Nida, May 3-7, 2017. We asked all students to bring one project to Nida so they could realize it there, or to collaborate with each other if needed. We had 20 participants from EAA, VAA and RDAA, as well as representatives of project spaces and course leaders.

The objectives were: 1) Get to know each-others practises, 2) Get to know the real life of project spaces and artist-run spaces, 3) Encourage the start of own-initiative projects/exhibitions internationally and locally, 4) Find international collaborators among each other

To develop/imagine a plan for an initiative/project/organisation/event/artist group/festival/exhibition/etc., and present it on the final day to the group.

The first part of the event was getting to know each other and everyone’s practises; people started to form groups. On the last they all the groups and some individuals presented what they had worked on during the three days.


By the end of the project, 101 students participated in the course – 41 more than planned. This means the course raised interest in students, as they found a lack of practical material in their other coursework. Here are some responses from the feedback questionnaire to the question: Do you find that the course should be part of your curriculum?


It should be mandatory. It contains essential information all artists should know.”

It’s a necessary look into the ‘real world.’”

To be honest, I think that every student in the academy should attend this course, because it is a survival guide for a young artist.”


“Definitely! I always missed a course like that. Unfortunately, in art schools there is too little communication about the time after graduating and what possibilities you have.”

“Yes, because after feeling safe in your artistic practice, how you continue your practice in the post-school world is the most important.”


“Yes, because without it, it would be hard to make sense of the art world in all its complexity.”


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Posted by Olivia Verev