What we do
ACA is an artist-led organisation that has a long history of working regionally, nationally and internationally to deliver innovative contemporary arts projects. We are based in the Old Schoolhouse, overlooking the village of Allenheads in Northumberland.
ACA challenges artists to work in a unique rural context through a wide-ranging programme of research and education. We draw on the natural environment of the North Pennines to facilitate and create contemporary art practice, interacting with and interpreting our surroundings to find new possibilities. Our work is not limited to its setting and is invariably informed by current urban and global concerns. Internationally, we have travelled to work with organisations including Nida Art Colony (Lithuania), MAGCP (France) and Massey University College of Creative Arts (New Zealand).
In the UK, we have been supported by funders including Arts Council England, Northumberland County Council, Institute of Physics and the British Council. In 2017, we became the only arts organisation in the UK to have an astronomical observatory on site, partnering with the AONB (North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) to build such an exceptional facility. Our most recent projects, CONTINUUM and BEYOND, have been heavily influenced by the dark skies at ACA, engaging artists to work alongside scientists, astronomers and specialists from diverse fields including ornithologists and Zen Buddhist monks.
Artist development and learning is key to what we do at ACA. We offer individual and group funded and self-funded residencies which provide creatives with a relaxed but stimulating environment for their practice. We also run and facilitate educational visits and research programmes, working with local schools through to academics and university students. In order to facilitate these activities, we have our own gallery, fully equipped studio classroom and other work spaces.
ACA’s comfortable and spacious accommodation has been featured in The Guardian. We have a self-contained studio flat for individuals and the West Wing for groups. Apart from renting our facilities to artists and educational groups, we open our doors to holidaymakers and business groups wanting to escape to our rural setting. In the past, we have hosted yoga retreats, film companies, cycling squads, wedding parties and corporate training groups.
ACA is a contemporary arts organisation unlike any other. We combine our background working internationally with a love for the heritage and natural environment of the local area. We foster community in everything we do and most importantly, are flexible and open to new possibilities.