Based on the idea of a book group, Look Groups are a network of groups throughout Cornwall whose members meet regularly to talk about art, artists and ideas. Each group sets its own topics and ideas for discussion, which is central to the idea of Look Groups.
The idea behind founding the Look Group network was to create and sustain small community groups with a shared aim from one end of Cornwall to the other. The aim was to enliven conversation about art in a supportive environment, while working with Tate in new and exciting ways.
The Look Group project was initially piloted from October 2009 to April 2010 through a partnership by Tate St Ives and Cornwall Council, funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) under the Learning Innovation Transformation Fund. The goal was to initiate a sustainable network of Look Groups across the county of Cornwall, getting communities to come together and talk about art, sharing their own opinions and ideas. The Look Group network was a successful pilot initiative, and succeeded in building a knowledgeable and supportive audience-base throughout Cornwall. Following the success of the pilot, Look Groups were awarded funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Tate St Ives Legacy Project. The HLF funding supports the expansion of the number of groups, helping the Look Group project to reach twenty-five different communities. The funding also supports Look Groups to collaborate with Tate St Ives on creating exhibition resources and small displays.
The larger ambition of Look Groups is to encourage more people into informal learning, specifically, opportunities connected to learning around the visual arts outside of the gallery. Through meetings, members learn how to access different learning resources, like online archives, in new places, in new ways and at flexible times. An important part of the project is enabling groups to connect with each other, widening discussions beyond individual groups. Look Groups have a Facebook page, which allows groups to share ideas and carry on discussions with a wider network, as well as with Tate nationally.
Sharing innovative content and building relationships widens opportunities and strengthens informal adult learning. Ultimately, it improves connections between Tate and communities around Cornwall. This enables progression between different kinds of learning, and helps people to make better use of broadcasting and technology.
A Look Group Guide is available to support communities in Cornwall and around the world to start their own Look Groups.