b-side Symposium 2015 - The Excursionist

b-side welcomed over 80 delegates to the Isle of Portland for b-side’s second Symposium event provoking debate on current issues. ‘The Excursionist’ explored the growing industry of tourism and it's relationship with the arts exploring the impact of tourism on community, environment and economy and the role art and artists can play. ​Delegates enjoyed two days of provocations, presentations, discussions and artistic interventions including a bus trip to Portland’s premier tourist attraction and an unexpected performance in a graveyard.

For social media highlights and comments by delegates have a look here. Take a look at Flickr for the full visual story here. Or click here to hear some of the discussions that emerged during the symposium. 

Following its inaugural symposium Resonant Terrains posing the question ‘Are festivals the future for contemporary art?’ b-side presents a second discussion event provoking debate on current issues. This year we take a look at the growing industry of tourism and it's relationship with the arts – particularly in relation to rural contexts.

The Excursionist

How can tourism work for art and art work for tourism?
Exploring the impact of tourism on community, environment and economy and the role art can play. ​

“There is a resurgence in the extent and quality of creative activity in Britain, and no government can stand idly by and ignore the potential this has to uplift the people’s hearts and at the same time to draw in a major economic return to this country.”
Chris Smith, Creative Britain

Please scroll down the page for list of speakers and for outline schedule and travel/accomodation information

£65 Two day Symposium ticket includes all trips, events and presentations with delicious buffet supper on Thursday night and lunch on Friday.

£30 One day Symposium ticket is for Friday 9 October includes presentation and discussion events and lunch

8th October, 1:00pm - 7:00pm
9th October, 9:30am - 5:00pm

The Stonehall

Portland, Dorset

Tickets: Click here

With cultural tourism currently high on the agenda and partnerships being formed between arts and tourism organisations what does this actually mean for these organisations and the artists they work with? In rural areas tourism is increasingly seen as the answer to supporting the economy and sustaining rural communities. The attractions of the coast and landscape are marketed and strategies developed to maximize articulating and promoting local distinctiveness. Arts organisations are looking to the landscape as venue and backdrop and developing events that create a cultural calendar to augment and celebrate this offer.

However, for every positive argument put forward in support of rural tourism there can be a counter argument. When the economic driver of tourism demands the creation of ‘attractions’ and results in an influx of visitors how does this impact upon the landscape and those that live there? Can art be used effectively to increase awareness and understanding of some of the potential issues arising from these impacts and support a responsible and sustainable approach to tourism? What role can the arts play in augmenting the tourism offer whilst also maintaining artistic integrity?

The Excursionist symposium poses these questions in a series of creative provocations, interventions and discussions.

Day One features individual expert and practitioner perspectives including contributions from Artangel Co-Director James Lingwood and artist Katrina Palmer plus an excursion to visit Portland’s primary tourist attraction!

Day Two presents three conversations designed to stimulate debate. Each one led by specialists in art, environment, tourism and community who will present a short summary of their experience before opening up the conversation to the room. Delegates will have the opportunity to attend and participate in all three sessions. 


James Lingwood

James Lingwood:
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Katrina Palmer

Katrina Palmer:
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Jordan McKenzie

Jordan McKenzie:
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Tom Munro

Tom Munro:
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Phil Smith

Phil Smith:
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Dr Julie Scott Crawshaw

Dr Julie Scott Crawshaw:
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Neal White

Dr Nigel D Morpeth:
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Alistair Gentry

Alistair Gentry
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Sue Jones

Sue Jones:
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Joss Allen

Joss Allen:
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Marina Mareno

Marina Mareno:
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Tom Marshman

Tom Marshman:
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Louise Atkinson

Louise Atkinson:
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Chris A Wright

Chris A Wright:
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Bevis Fenner

Bevis Fenner:
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CONVERSATION 1: Art, Tourism and Community

We can make you a star

Led by artist Alistair Gentry and anthropologist Julie Crawshaw, this conversation will explore the responsibilities, sensitivities, successes and failures of putting communities in the spotlight.

Is there a risk of exploiting communities and individuals in our bid to draw tourists to places, as part of the tourist/art agenda?  When place-making methodologies and site-specific arts practice draw upon the idiosyncratic qualities of small towns or villages, do we need to be asking what the limits are on exposing the personal, the secret and the taboo narratives of communities and individuals with whom we so heavily rely to realise our agendas?

CONVERSATION 2: Art, Tourism and Environment

Share the Secret - Keep the Secret

Led by Tom Munro, Dorset AONB and Joss Allen from Deveron Arts this conversation focuses on balancing the needs and expectations of visitors whilst simultaneously protecting natural environments and resources.

What are the environmental implications of tourism agendas that encourage greater numbers of visitors to rural areas? Artworks and artistic interventions often explore and reveal the lesser-known aspects of a place, exposing them to new and increased audiences. Does this exposure undermine the very thing that makes the place special or can art find a way to share the secrets whilst helping to preserve them? Can viewing or experiencing a place through the work of artists develop greater understanding and respect for the environment and can the arts be an active part of an objective to adopt sustainable tourism strategies contributing to the good management of the high quality environment on which it depends.

CONVERSATION 3: Art, Tourism and Economy

Show us your money!

Led by Dr Nigel D Morpeth of Leeds Beckett University and Sue Jones, Director of the Whitstable Biennale, interrogating the positive, or otherwise, implications of tourist driven agendas and the economic impact for both the area and the arts.

When our creative and cultural actions cause an influx of visitors, can we both support the existing infrastructure and feed their needs? Whether permanently or temporarily boosting the local economy, what are the expectations of both residents and visitors, can they be met and sustained? How can we be sensitive to social, cultural and environmental issues, which arise from accelerated change? For example, does regeneration (or gentrification) naturally follow when new partnerships between the arts and business sectors spring up? Do art festivals and events have the capacity to provide stimuli for sustainable economic impact, proactively fostering relationships between art and commerce with confidence and energy? What does it cost to stage such initiatives and what opportunities are there for supporting funding, sponsorship and methodologies for calculating economic benefit? Do we need to ensure that qualitative evaluation methodologies and results are fed into the equation in order to capture the subtler but no less crucial benefits to visitors and communities?