March 7, 2018 | Simon Jenkins
A donation enabled Kerry Harker to return to education, and her PhD research will help bolster the UK’s vibrant independent arts scene.
It’s one she knows well. After graduating in 1994 and completing her Masters a year later – both at Leeds – Kerry became a practising artist. Later she co-founded The Tetley, an acclaimed arts and events venue in south Leeds.
“The UK has a big artist-led scene,” she says. “Often these are individuals, selling artwork, running studios and galleries and publishing, all under their own steam. Yet there’s a real disconnect between this exciting, productive activity and established arts organisations which have relationships with funders such as the Arts Council.
“What they manage on a shoestring is incredible, but often they’re cut off from finance and from the making of cultural policy.”
Kerry’s PhD is about closing this gap, and showing how artists can secure funding and get involved in policy-making. “This won’t just be 80,000 words of theory,” she says. “It will be something that helps the sector.”
At a time when public funding for postgraduate study in the arts and humanities has been cut significantly, donor support has been critical for both Kerry and Matthew. “I wouldn’t be here without it,” says Kerry. “As someone working in the arts, I know what it means to secure this support.”