Tate Modern Course

Tate Intensive: The Power of Play

A rich and dynamic programme exploring the value of play in reshaping art galleries and museums

At a time when art galleries and museums face urgent social, political and environmental concerns, the 2020 Tate Intensive programme takes play seriously. The programme positions play as an essential concept in the future development of art institutions. How might an emphasis on play change institutional priorities and programmes? How might institutions create playful and imaginative ways to engage their audiences? What’s at stake if institutions do not embrace joy, playfulness and fun?

Brought together in a spirit of exchange and collaboration, Tate Intensive participants are invited to contribute in an open and generous way to peer-led discussions and activities, drawing on their own experiences and case studies. The week offers a vital space for critical reflection and the opportunity to develop fresh perspectives, new skills and alternate ways of working.

The programme includes intimate talks with museum professionals, artists, cultural leaders and members of Tate staff from different departments across the institution, alongside a range of workshop formats designed to encourage creative thinking and collaboration between participants. Daily engagement with art includes visits to the galleries at Tate Modern and Tate Britain and other London cultural institutions. Evening social activities complement the intense discussions held in the Tate Exchange space at Tate Modern.


Tate Intensive comprises 25 selected participants from around the world. Past participants have included administrators, curators, researchers, writers, educators, producers, programmers, artists, architects, fundraisers, activists and strategists. We are actively seeking a diverse range of professionals working in and with art galleries, museums and other cultural institutions in a wide range of countries.

The programme intentionally brings together people at different stages of their career – from emerging practitioners to directors and others in senior management roles. This intimate group is encouraged to share knowledge and exchange ideas based on their diverse experiences and current practices, and to discuss creative approaches to curating, programming, research, audience development, community engagement and arts management. Participants join an ongoing network of alumni offering support, inspiration and the potential for future collaborations.


The Tate Intensive 2020 programme explores, in a critical and practical way, how an expanded idea of play might shape art galleries and museums in the future. The programme acknowledges the widespread interest and research around play that exists across different sectors, and aims to explore the unique and vital potential play holds for art institutions. In highlighting the value of play, the programme does not ignore the serious challenges facing art institutions around the world; rather, it encourages imaginative and creative responses.

Workshop discussions and keynote talks will examine a wide range of institutional activities, including curatorial practices, audience engagement strategies, learning programmes and digital content. The programme aims to expand our imaginative possibilities of art and art institutions, and enable participants to develop and share the skills needed to change current ways of working.

Key questions shaping the 2020 programme include:

  • How might an emphasis on play open up new forms of creative learning and participatory programming to reshape the relationships between audiences and art institutions?
  • How might the notion of play challenge how art institutions approach questions of knowledge, expertise and authority?
  • How might playful approaches to exhibition-making offer fresh ways of presenting art, create compelling audience experiences, and tell bold and inclusive stories of art and society?
  • What can be learned about play from artists, from different disciplines and from sectors beyond the arts?
  • What role might play have in relation to the research and interpretation practices of museums and galleries?
  • How might institutions balance a desire for playfulness with considerations of risk, control and reputation?
  • How might an emphasis on joy, playfulness and fun help create inclusive institutional cultures and improve well-being for staff, contributors and audiences?
  • What is the case against a playful approach to art and art institutions?

Previous keynote speakers on the Tate Intensive programme have included Maria Balshaw, Anne Barlow, Alex Farquharson, Jane Finnis, Ryan Gander, Gaylene Gould, Isaac Julien, Helen Legg, Hew Locke, Karen MacKinnon, Frances Morris, Farshid Moussavi, Elvira Dyangani Ose, Cornelia Parker, Nicholas Serota, Justine Simons, Fatoş Üstek and Jenny Waldman.

Tate Modern

Level 5, Blavatnik Building

London SE1 9TG
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Please send the following to Intensive@tate.org.uk:

  • CV summarising your professional experience and skills (max. 2 pages)
  • Short statement (max. 750 words) explaining why you would like to participate in Tate Intensive, and how the theme of the 2020 programme relates to your practice

There are no formal entry requirements, though we strongly recommend that applicants have at least two years’ experience working with or in an art gallery, museum or related cultural institution. Applications close at 12.00pm GMT on 22 November 2019.

Interviews for shortlisted candidates will take place between 6 January and 31 January 2020. Successful candidates will be informed by the end of February. 2020.



Includes lunch and refreshments. Participants are required to cover their own travel and accommodation costs.

A number of full and partial bursaries are available.

To be considered for a bursary, please include an additional statement in your application (max 500 words), outlining how the programme would contribute to your professional development.

Past Tate Intensives