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Increasing a profile

15 Jun 2005

Kerenza Hines is preparing for this year’s Architecture Week. She believes it will be the best yet. Kerenza is the officer for public art and architecture at Arts Council England NW. With the help of Rowan Atkins and Penny Skerrett she has pulled together the programme for this year’s Architecture Week in the North West. This year’s celebration is not only bigger than last year’s it also has a much higher profile.

Hines studied for a BA in History of Art and Design at Manchester Metropolitan University before she worked on arts festivals and outdoor events, including a Greater Manchester street art event called Streets Ahead. “I soon realised that although I loved the performance scene I was moving away from my own area of specialism, so I did an MA in Museum and Gallery studies at Manchester University to train to become a curator. I was very fortunate to get a job straight away as an exhibitions curator at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, in Bradford, to work on the temporary photography gallery,” she said.

Who set up architecture week?
Architecture Week was established in 1997 by Arts Council England. Ttoday it is a joint initiative with RIBA and the Architecture Network. It has always been about creating a national celebration of contemporary architecture. Today, due to its growing size and profile, I think it has grown bigger than just being about contemporary buildings; it addresses a whole host of other agendas such as the spaces people live in, the debates surrounding regeneration plus the artists and architects responses to all of this.

Why is the Arts Council involved?
Arts Council England’s (ACE) involvement certainly brings in the artists perspective to the architecture and regeneration agenda. Our involvement shows our commitment to architects as being vital creative forces in our everyday experience and the currency of creative thinking and solutions when designing our towns and cities.

What is the purpose of architecture week?
Primarily awareness raising, really. It is an opportunity to have a bit of fun and create a sense of celebration and festival. Architecture Week also provides an opportunity to get a sense of the work that is being developed or delivered throughout the year. It can be an excellent time to launch new initiatives and attract new audiences to either visit buildings or participate in cultural activity. Not many people would necessarily spend much time thinking about the affect architecture might have on their daily life. Architecture Week can create that opportunity to look up for once.

What do you do when you are not organising Architecture Week?
ACE is the national funding agency for the arts in England. My responsibility is for public art and built environment development in the whole of the North West region. My desk job would be to assess funding applications from artists or organisations wishing to employ artists to deliver work in the built environment. Because of the central link my work has with regeneration, I get to work in a very outward-facing way, working with many national and regional partners such as CABE, NWDA, RENEW, RIBA NW, as well as key local partners such as local authorities and city councils. The largest agenda by far is getting artists involved at the early stages of the design phase of regeneration. I truly believe in the role artists can play in all levels in the design of our built environment such as masterplanner, as fabricator or craftsman, or as community facilitator. Artists should be non-negotiable when building a team to design where we live. Artists have the ability and often the flexibility to see things in ways others wouldn’t.

What do you like most about your work?
I enjoy the advocacy role of my work, talking to clients and giving advice on the best way to involve artists in their schemes, providing examples of where an integral involvement of artists has really made a difference in creating a beautiful place or assisting the community. Often a local authority planning officer, for example, just needs that bit of advice or a point in the right direction to help feel more confident in engaging an artist in their scheme. It is also very gratifying when you know you have helped an applicant get the funding they need to deliver fantastic work, no matter how small.”

What do you personally looking forward to?
My concern is that I can’t get around to see as much as I would like, as there are so many events to choose from. However, I am looking forward to seeing the exhibition RIBANW and ACENW have commissioned of the NW shortlisted buildings for this year’s RIBA award by photographers Christoph and Joanna Shaw. The images I’ve seen so far have been stunning. Also, the quirky tours of Manchester that Urbis are hosting look fun; particularly the tour by artist Michael Trainor with his ‘archi-specks’.

What do you expect to draw big crowds?
Maybe ‘crowds’ might be too optimistic, although just by its public locality Len Grants images of Manchester‘s railway arches exhibited at Manchester Piccadilly station will certainly be viewed by thousands of people each day. It will also be interesting to see Urban Splashes ‘festival’ style event at Castlefield arena on the last weekend. We will just have to wait and see.

What has architecture week achieved so far?
AW has grown significantly in size and profile in the last few years; there are over 500 events in the whole of the country, and I think the official national audience statistic is over 35million. In the North West I am particularly proud of not only the amount of events happening in the region but the growing regional spread of events. To be honest the events in past years had always been based in either Manchester or Liverpool, but this year the number of events being held throughout the region, in Lancashire, Cumbria and Cheshire, has increased. This is an important factor as it shows that the debates are far from being just about urban centres.

Will architecture week run for another ten years?
Well, next year will definitely be a huge achievement, and one that is already being planned; but maybe it would be an opportune moment to rethink where we want it to go next. Architecture Week has raised people’s expectations, plus it has proved there is an audience wishing to engage with this area. If it were to finish,we would need to be replaced by something else.

All event details are available on

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