Office of Arte Útil
In November 2021 the Whitworth opened the Office of Arte Útil, a permanent public space that activates the gallery’s mission to use art for positive social change.
This mixed-use workspace and common room is free for use by local constituents, visitors, students, and academics and provides a space to connect with the ideas and processes of 'useful art'.
Large tables refurbished and repurposed from the Whitworth’s historic boardroom provide an area for individual work or group meetings, alongside comfortable sofas for relaxed conversation. Rotating displays of case studies from the Arte Útil Archive, now part of the Whitworth Collection, speak to exhibitions and projects elsewhere in the gallery and locally.
Arte Útil is a project that was initiated by the artist Tania Bruguera in 2013 and has now expanded in into an international network of people, committed to the idea that art can be used as a tool or process to initiate transformations in society. This work is maintained by the Association of Arte Útil, and includes the continually expanding archive, which documents and shares case studies to show how art can address what matters in people’s lives, respond to current urgencies and propose solutions to problems in the world.
The current Arte Útil case study display connects to the Economics the Blockbuster: It’s Not Business as Usual exhibition (30 June – 22 October 2023). The display has been selected by artist Owen Griffiths and curator Alessandra Saviotti and highlights how artists are creating new forms of economy where they live.
On display nearby is Tablecloth as Tooklit – Manchester Version (2023) a participatory artwork by Owen Griffiths and Alessandra Saviotti, presented as part of Economics the Blockbuster exhibition, which hosts conversations around alternative food systems and our changing connection to the land.
Using this space
The Office of Arte Útil is a permanent public space and is available to visit and use during the gallery’s opening hours. Please note – occasionally the Office of Arte Útil is used for a one-off activity, or to provide space for a community group meeting or activity to take place. At these times the Office may be closed to visitors and reserved for this use only. Please check with the gallery in advance, to check availability, if you are planning to make particular use of the Office of Arte Útil to help avoid any disappointment. The gallery has a number of open-access meeting areas and if a space is booked in one area we will endeavour to suggest alternate options for you to use.
If you have general enquiries about a visit to the gallery, please email the Visitor Team in the first instance.
From 26 November 2021 – ongoing
Image: Owen Griffiths and Alessandra Saviotti, Tablecloth as Tooklit – Manchester Version (2023). Economics the Blockbuster: It's not Business as Usual, 2023, installation location, Office of Arte Útil, The Whitworth, The University of Manchester2023. Photo: David Oates