Across 10 of the most tumultuous years in modern memory, ArtCan found a toehold, climbed to incredible heights, and is celebrating continued success. Founded in 2013 by Kate Enters as a one-off exhibition among peer artists, ArtCan now represents 537 members from 26 countries, and organises an annual programme of strong and vibrant collaborative art exhibitions.
Throughout 2023, ArtCan is celebrating our 10 year anniversary with exhibitions, events, Instagram live interviews, and more to be announced. Everyone is invited to join!
- ArtCan’s journey from one-off exhibition to international organisation began with a universal question: “What is the point?”
- Artists often work in isolation but crave connection and camaraderie of other artists. ArtCan provides a network and structure to connect with peers, filling a gap in the art world.
- ArtCan’s unique exhibition process unlocks possibilities for an artist to sustain their individual practice by removing barriers such as the up-front cost of exhibiting, steep commission structures, and lack of marketing resources. By bringing artists together ArtCan increases the chance for exposure and potential sales.
- You can celebrate with ArtCan at exhibitions or virtually throughout 2023. Check our calendar of events for details.
A universal question prompts an annual exhibition
ArtCan started as a small, inadvertent rebellion against the traditional structure of the art world. An artist herself, Kate Enters had organised many of her own solo exhibitions and found herself stymied by the up-front cost of promotion, high commissions taken by the galleries, and the same faces at private views. She needed a way to expand her audience and keep costs lower in order to sustain her own practice.
In a conversation with her dad, she was exasperated and asked — as many artists do — “What is the point?” An exhibition theme was found. She organised a group of fellow artists to create work that responds to that question, and together they pooled resources, shared costs and removed the steep commissions they would otherwise have paid. The event was incredibly successful, and artists made plans to repeat the process the next year.
In 2015, the third year for the “What Is The Point?” exhibition, Kate secured a gallery space at the Mall Galleries. As a well-known and respected gallery in Central London, the space granted weight and gravitas to the event, and an open call for artists resulted in over 100 applications, with a final exhibition featuring 35 works from international artists. In meeting their fellow exhibitioners, the expanded artist pool also recognised the benefit of connecting with artists outside of their normal circles and requested to be formally connected to each other. The seed for a formal organisation had taken root.
A dedicated group solidifies and grows
The success of 2015’s exhibition had a formalising effect in many ways. The artists began meeting up regularly, and smaller exhibitions popped up organically outside of the annual exhibition. As well, the support structure had grown to include its first Marketing Director, Ellen Schwartze, and shortly after, an advisory committee of seven volunteer artists. In 2016, the group formalised as WITP Arts Organisation and announced its founding Board of Trustees Members, Brian Harris and Stephen Crampton-Hayward.
The team began organising workshops, meetups, and expert panels, and promoting the group’s expanding programme of exhibitions. From this, another defining pillar emerged: art doesn’t need a gallery. Kate adopted the phrase, “Give us a space and we will make something happen.” With this new perspective, the group booked shows in partnership with arts organisations in Edinburgh, Scotland; Amsterdam, The Netherlands (the first show outside of the UK); Poznan, Poland; Vienna, Austria; Cella Monte, Italy; and beyond.
By the end of 2017, the group was blossoming. It became apparent that this was a winning formula, filling a need in the art world by connecting artists, providing them a platform, and shaking up an outdated and inequitable system. The name and ethos needed to better embrace its expanding role in artists’ lives as well as the international stage.
ArtCan formalises and accelerates to present day
In 2018, WITP rebranded to ArtCan led by Kate, an expanded Board of Trustees, social media director Holly Collier, and dozens of volunteer members artists in a conference room at Stanton Williams Architects. The new name was chosen because it exudes possibilities and hope: Art can create conversations, bring people together, express feelings, connect cultures, shift perspectives, be a catalyst, build toilets, raise awareness, respond to current events, or challenge the status quo. Art can unify or divide, pacify or excite. Art can make a difference.
Since formalising the group, ArtCan has experienced exponential growth. We now support 537 member artists from 26 countries as they develop their own sustainable practices. We provide exhibitions, peer-to-peer connections, professional recognition, and access to specialist knowledge and support. ArtCan’s artist-centred ethos means that our model does not involve charging membership fees or commissions on sales.
“Being an artist can be an isolated existence, but the need for connectivity is innate and the pandemic drew that need sharply into focus,” said Kate. Particularly over the past two years, more international artists have exhibited with ArtCan, curated a show, and/or participated in our hands-on learning experiences for members. Energised by connection and cause, they have organised themselves by region, medium, or common interest to coordinate exhibitions, participate in art fairs, secure grant funding, and plan local meetups.
In 2022, ArtCan held 15 exhibitions—including 3 in our virtual gallery—displaying more than 600 artworks, selling 35, and resulting in £33,000 paid directly from collector to artists. This was made possible by its not-for-profit structure and volunteer support. The organisation won Acquisition International’s Nonprofit Award for Most Empowering Artist Opportunity Provider 2022.
Kate and the Board of Trustees offer our sincerest thanks to anyone who has supported ArtCan as we have grown to where we are today. “As we look toward 2023, onwards to the next 10 years, and further, we’re thrilled to continue our mission to create opportunities for artists,” said Kate, “The future is incredibly bright and exciting,”
Celebrate 10 years with ArtCan’s programme of events in 2023
Throughout 2023, ArtCan is celebrating our 10 years with exhibitions, events, Instagram live interviews, and more events to be announced. Everyone is invited to join! View an up-to-date list here.
Our current and upcoming exhibitions are:
- Ensemble 02, February – December 2023, Kroll Office, Paris, France (by appointment only)
- CHROMA 2, 10 March – 10 December 2023, America Square Conference Centre, London, UK
- The Power of Pencil, 20 March – 22 April 2023, ArtCan Virtual Gallery
- Alchemical, 18 – 28 April, Gallery 475, London, UK
- Anniversary 10×10, 15 – 18 May 2023, Hansard Studios, London, UK
- Sanctuary, 25 – 28 May 2023, The Leper Chapel of Saint Mary Magdalene, Cambridge, UK
- Amplify, 06 – 18 June 2023, Wellington, New Zealand
- Colours and Sounds, September 2023, London, UK
- Home, 20 – 29 October 2023, London, UK
- Transparent as a Dragonfly, 05 – 18 October 2023, Rome, Italy
- Bridge, 15 November – 10 December 2023, Simrishamn, Sweden
Donations support our annual international art programme, or we would greatly appreciate your sustained support by becoming a Friend of ArtCan. We also raise funds via our annual fundraising event, “From ArtCan with Love” where anyone can purchase original, postcard-sized works from our members — if you’re quickest to claim! Save the date for 11 July, 2023. It’s a hybrid event this year, hosted at the Bermondsey Project Space in central London as well as streaming online for our supporters outside the UK. Registrations are open via this link.
ArtCan has expertise in producing collaborative art exhibitions in London, across Britain and internationally. The exhibitions complement the work of established galleries by enabling talent to gain experience and skills. ArtCan works with galleries, but also seeks new spaces where art becomes a part of everyday life and with the aim of involving audiences in an organic and personal way.
ArtCan’s artist-centred ethos means that the model does not involve charging membership fees or commissions on sales, to help artists focus on developing a sustainable practice.
ArtCan is an artist-led, non-profit arts organisation with members across Britain and internationally. ArtCan’s work is supported by the efforts of artist-member volunteers and contributions from donations and Friends of ArtCan. ArtCan works with galleries, but also seeks new spaces where art becomes a part of everyday life and with the aim of involving audiences in an organic and personal way.ArtCan’s artist-centred ethos means that the model does not involve charging membership fees or commissions on sales, to help artists focus on developing a sustainable practice.