The Arts Institute – public arts programme

‘Untitled (Bench) 29’ by Narbi Price (2020) Watercolour on paper, A4, Private Collection, UK  -

The Arts Institute is the curated public arts programme of the University of Plymouth which plays a pivotal role in building culture and art in the city and South West region, supporting established, new and emerging artists from around the world.

It comprises The Levinsky Gallery, a space for engaging, contemporary artworks; the Jill Craigie Cinema which screens a diverse range of classic films and contemporary cinematic masterpieces; a cutting-edge theatre and dance programme in The House; musical performances and concerts, and a year-long series of fascinating talks that open up a world of art, literature and history.

Open to everybody.

Contact us -

Our commitment to the safe enjoyment of the arts during the Covid-19 pandemic, means that this season's events are free for you to enjoy at home.

The Arts Institute relies on income to develop and deliver a public programme, which not only promotes audience engagement and access to the arts, but also directly supports emerging and established artists' careers and the creation of new content.

In place of the price of a ticket, please consider a donation to The Arts Institute.

Donate here

Thank you for your support.

Legacies and Futures season

“Any map of the world that does not include Utopia is not even worth glancing at.” Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism (1891)

This season we explore the role of the arts in times of crisis, and the space it provides to both soothe and provoke.

Shaped by the university environment, The Arts Institute draws on the best creative thinkers and researchers across diverse art-forms and disciplines. For the Legacies and Futures season we asked our contributors to pose the uncomfortable questions that bring societal issues to the fore, encouraging us to reflect, and helping to carve new pathways to navigate through these strange times. Through art and research Legacies and Futures provides a space for us to question and interrogate previous understandings of our history.

Hop Scotch by Anna Sebastian (2020) Oil on board, 15 x 20cm, detail -

Director's comments

“Pause, reflect and re-imagine. What happens when the world as we know it turns upside down and grinds to a halt? Such is the premise of much science-fiction, yet the global pandemic in the form of Covid-19 has seen everyday life in 2020 change momentously, from testing the boundaries of medical knowledge, to changing the nature of social relations and exposing economic precarity, social injustice and vulnerability. But what of art and culture in all this?

In times of crisis we invariably find ourselves turning to poets, artists and philosophers to provide a pathway through difficult times. Art and culture can bring people together, connecting the individual with larger collective experiences, whilst providing space to sooth and to provoke. In times of change we need the space for art to do both: to dare to ask uncomfortable questions – the difficult questions that will implement change – whilst also supporting art that alleviates and entertains by lifting us out of the everyday.”

Kehinde Wiley: Ship of Fools

The Levinsky Gallery | 29 September 2020–24 January 2021

When confronted with large bodies of water, a duality is often experienced: we are in fact at once attracted to but also frightened by the unknown.

New York-based artist Kehinde Wiley's mode of enquiry, and his interest in the portrayal and modulation of power will be explored through the works on show, which also include paintings and sculpture. The exhibition aims to investigate the ways in which the artist masterfully uses traditional representation to challenge power relations and art historical norms. Curated by The Box in partnership with The Arts Institute and Royal Museums Greenwich.

Find out more about the exhibition

Kehinde Wiley, Narrenschiff, 2017, Three-channel digital film. Duration: 16.40 minutes. Copyright Kehinde Wiley. Courtesy of Stephen Friedman Gallery

5x5x5 series

30 October – 13 November 2020

5 x artists. 5 x writers. 5 x researchers. Bringing together diverse voices for an online series of arts and culture, in response to the global issues of 2020.

Experience 15 days of new work. Each day reveals new perspectives that intersect with previous voices to provide a multi-layered cultural narrative as to our current situation. It does not shy away from tackling the difficult questions that are bubbling at the surface and instead seeks to provide insight into issues that have been amplified in the current crisis, including: historical memory, social injustice, the Black Lives Matter movement, and caring for the vulnerable and the marginalised.

Free to access online – find out more

Call for submissions

The Arts Institute, KARST and The Box bring you the Plymouth Contemporary 2021, an open exhibition that provides a platform for both emerging creative talent, and more established artists working nationally and internationally. The exhibition will run across The Levinsky Gallery, University of Plymouth, from 19 March – 23 May 2021, and KARST from 13 May – 3 July 2021.

Theme: Making It. Plymouth Contemporary invites artists to open up, interrogate, unpick and shake out what 'Making It' might mean in terms of contemporary art practice in 2021. Open to contemporary visual artists working in any medium. Submission deadline: Thursday 12 November 2020, midnight.

Find out more and submit your artwork

What Would You Do?' Marcus Lanyon, Plymouth Contemporary 2017

Mayflower 400: Legacies and Futures online curation

The Legacies and Futures digital curation seeks to frame and interrogate colonial heritage. This project re-frames the more familiar Mayflower narrative within more flexible, inclusive and varied parameters.

In 2020, we remember the departure of the Mayflower from Plymouth harbour four hundred years ago. Plymouth was a final stop on a journey to North America, a final stop on a voyage to colonise and conquer the people and landscapes of North America.

This curation, which includes commentary and insights from Indigenous and non-Indigenous contributors, collects and presents new observations about the way that we narrate, visualise and remember the past.

Find out more about the project

The Mayflower Steps


Join the conversation on Twitter:

Word is...

  • t "Some truly incredible works here; and well worth a visit." Mark Jessett
  • f "Blissful sheer escapism." Alexandra Miranda
  • t "Fantastic opportunity to see established and up and coming artists! Amazing space." Jason Brownlee
  • . "Absolutely stunning exhibition. Thank you so much for bringing it to Plymouth." Carly Seller on 'Thinking Tantra'
  • t "Was a very fascinating talk from a very fascinating man" @LilMussRuin on 'In Conversation with Peter Greenaway'
  • A "A hidden gem"

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