RSA Journal Issue 4 2023 - RSA

The RSA Journal: Issue 4 2023


Arts and minds: “In so many ways, we are just getting started...”

My 'Arts and minds' title is drawn from a fabulous book of the same name, written by our resident historian Dr Anton Howes. This charts the rich and illustrious history of the RSA, in which arts and culture have always played a central part. The RSA held Britain’s first dedicated exhibition of contemporary art, which took place around 1760. A subsequent breakaway movement led eventually to the creation of the Royal Academy. The RSA would later spawn other cultural institutions, including the Royal College of Music and the Royal Photographic Society.

Arts and culture have been restored to their rightful place, at the centre of the RSA, through our new Design for Life mission. We can see this in the artworks now adorning RSA House, to say nothing of the music and film. Early next year, our Vaults will host the work of a charity that rehabilitates offenders through programmes in music, art and writing. And, in November, we announced a grand coalition of organisations (including the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV) bringing to life a ‘Northern Cultural Corridor’ to supercharge the growth of the creative industries in the North (as the article by Professor Jonathan Sapsed sets out).

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In this, the final issue of the Journal for 2023, you will discover the practical experiences of a set of inspirational leaders from right around the world, as they have used arts and culture to reshape lives and communities – from football to frescos, artisans to artificial intelligence. Professor Drew Hemment’s cover feature explores the potential of human-machine partnerships, from computer-generated images to robots trained to paint artwork. The latter is demonstrated on the cover image of this issue, courtesy of artist Sougwen Chung.

The fascinating piece by Susan Magsamen, Founder and Executive Director of the International Arts + Mind Lab, explains how our brains and bodies are revitalised by artistic and cultural experiences. Susan points to research suggesting that participating in just one art experience per month can extend a person’s life by 10 years. And what is true for individuals is true for communities, too, as the articles by Lee Baker and Eddy Frankel demonstrate and as the pieces by the RSA’s Tom Stratton and the Hooogar Collective (a young group of artists in Guadalajara, Mexico) bring to life.

There is inspiration on every page of this issue of the Journal, rounding off a vibrant series of editions this year across the themes of our mission: people, place and planet. All three feature in my conversation with Syima Aslam, the self-confessed ‘insane geek’ who dreamed up and now delivers the brilliant and brilliantly multi-cultural Bradford Literature Festival. For evidence that the arts and culture really do change lives for the better, you need look no further than Syima and the success of the festival.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the Journal this year. The RSA is an institution born from the Enlightenment. Our next edition, in March 2024, will celebrate the RSA’s 270th anniversary. We may have been doing this for a long time but, in so many ways, we are just getting started. The RSA aims to be at the vanguard of a New Enlightenment, one placing arts, culture and creativity at the centre of
societal success.

Picture of Andy Haldane
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

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