Art commissioning has always been linked with Britain's great historic properties. Recent decades have seen many heritage organisations vigorously re-engaging with contemporary art, investing in this as a way of developing new opportunities for public engagement with heritage properties and their histories. Arts organisations including Arts Council England (ACE) have strategically supported this work, endorsing it as a significant means of fulfilling their mission to promote excellence and public benefit. For many artists temporary commissioned work for heritage properties is an increasingly important strand within their practice.
However, despite strong support from major organisations including the National Trust and ACE, the actual impact of such projects on their producers and audiences is poorly understood. Similarly there is little collective academic and professional understanding of the broader character of the contemporary arts in heritage field and its commissioning practices. As a creative practice-led research collaboration with major UK heritage partners our project aimed to produce a better understanding of this significant but under researched area of the visual arts.