Wide Open Space aimed to develop a programme of strategic public art projects to place Dorset at the forefront of a new rural cultural agenda. These projects were curated in order to show that art, craft and design contribute to making a better environment, creating sustainable communities, enhancing local distinctiveness and adding to our overall wellbeing, a new rural cultural agenda. It was an initiative of the Dorset Design and Heritage Forum, curated by Alex Murdin for Willis Newson and supported by funding from Arts Council England and Dorset County Council. Artists commissioned were London Fieldworks, Michael Pinsky, Anna Best, ZMMA architects & Simon Thomas Pirie and The People Speak.
This project was implemented through the commissioning of four research projects / case studies based around these themes and a wider educational and advocacy programme in Dorset. Themes covered included: Sustainability & design quality / public space; Creative engagement / rural housing; Traditional materials / innovative design; Collaborative design / protected landscapes.
As part of the programme two conferences took place – Healthy Communities and Sustainable Places took place in February 2011 and Wide Open Space in May 2011 . Wide Open Space looked at the contribution of artists, architects and designers to public and private places and spaces at a time of radical change for rural counties and their communities. Healthy Communities and Sustainable Places took place in February 2011 with Arts and Health South West and the Dorset Design and Heritage Forum and curated by Willis Newson. It looked at how can the arts reduce social isolation, improve community capital, encourage active travel and physical exercise and improve the food environment.