The Public Art Think Tank 

ixia – National Public Art Think Tank


Since 2000 ixia managed the website (originally commissioned by Public Art South West). This website is no longer actively updated, but is an important record of UK public art practice from the 1990s and until 2010.

In 2015 ixia lost its NPO funding from Arts Council as part of the national cuts to arts provision and ceased to operate as an active organisation whilst retaining a Board and ambition to reinstate and continuing to monitor the sector via a yearly survey.

In 2019 a new board of directors were appointed and began an organisational review to reflect on ixia’s history, the future of public art and how best to support the public art sector during these challenging times. In September 2021, ixia were awarded a development grant by Arts Council to enable us to work towards a sustainable future for the organisation.

The Arts Council Grant that we received in 2021 enabled us to undertake a year of organisational development activities, which have included:

Creating an online survey ‘Why Public Art, Why Now?’ which enabled us to analyse what those within the sector currently need and understand the barriers to accessing work and opportunities.

Hosting a series of online forums in order to hear first-hand from independent artists and producers about their experiences of working across the public art field. The forums built on from the survey enabling us to get a more nuanced and detailed understanding of the complex situations within public art commissioning and the different kinds of resources and support artists and producers need going forward.

Commissioning a Digital Audit of the Public Art Online Website by Tim Jukes in order to understand the potential requirements for building a refreshed website. The Public Art Online website still receives attention from artists, producers and commissioners despite being out of date. We’re aware how important it is to have a central website where sector professionals can access public art resources and case studies particularly in light of the levelling up agenda and increase in large scale commissioning programmes as part of regeneration. 

Having undertaken all these activities, we are now at a stage where we are reviewing and analysing the information collected in order to create a strategy for ixia’s work going forward. We want to support the existing sector, but through our research activities, in particular the survey it is evident that the sector/workforce is not diverse and we need to put in place programmes of support to help the sector diversify. The headlines of our survey findings indicate a sector prone to:
  • Ageing (average age of men 55/ average age of women 49)
  • Disproportionate around roles in terms of genders (female bias)
  • Predominately white (over 80%)
  • Predominantly able bodied (over 80%)
  • Concentrated in London, SW and SE
  • Predominantly freelance

As an outcome of this work we held a forum about EDI in the Public Art Sector jointly with Beam and CVAN in October 2023. More details can be found on this page