In November 2021 the Whitworth launches the Office of Arte Útil, a new permanent public space that activates the gallery’s mission to use art for positive social change.
This mixed-use workspace and common room will be 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 first Office of Arte Útil case study display connects to the gallery’s major exhibition Suzanne Lacy: What Kind of City? Making a Manual for Social Change (26 November 2021 – 10 April 2022). It presents projects that rethink the idea of the city, and unpacks the process of the Whitworth's youth collaboration project Oakland Projects Revisited as it unfolds across 2020-2021.