Learn how a-n responded to changes in context and the possibilities of digital technology to ensure its business model remained relevant.
Founded in 1980, a-n The Artists Information Company is a limited non-profit company providing services and information to its artist membership based on a fee.
a-n is the UK’s largest visual arts membership body. Its membership consists of over 19,000 practitioners and creative freelancers. They work within fine art, applied art, live art and moving image, sound and text-base practices, digital animation, curatorial, participatory, public and community arts.
Through advocacy and information and from the perspective of artists, a-n’s mission is to stimulate and support contemporary visual arts practice and affirm the value of artists in society.
a-n delivers a range of services and activities open to members and others. These include an extensive website that includes news, artists’ blogs, reviews, campaigns and information and guidance. It also advertises, publishes and lists opportunities for paid work for artists.
It has offices in Newcastle and London. It makes extensive use of digital technology to enable virtual and distributed working, allowing staff to work from home and regular freelancers to contribute from around the UK. It manages this through frequent Skype catch ups and weekly online team meetings, as well as regular ‘real world’ all company meetings.
a-n receives regular funding from Arts Council England as a National Portfolio Organisation.
The Business Model
The Value Proposition is the heart of a-n’s business model, although innovation has come from multiple ‘epicentres’.
a-n offers members, funders and other customers and partners a way to be a contributing member of the community of visual arts practitioners through events and online tools like the blog platform. It also offers members essential professional benefits like Public and Products Liability insurance.
The membership informs and helps shape the environment in which a-n operates. It also generates the bulk of the income for the organisation. Key activities and resources are therefore focused on supporting members’ professional needs, listening, and responding to issues of importance to artists with appropriate advocacy materials and campaigns.
At the heart of a-n’s Value Proposition is a community of artists and those who work with them. People share views, ideas and experiences and in doing so create value for each other.
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a-n business model case study (PDF)