School of Arts and Cultures

Staff Profiles

David Butler

Coordinator LifeWorkArt



David Butler is Coordinator of LifeWorkArt, a professional development programme for fine art students. LifeWorkArt also supports professional development for artists and others in the cultural sector. T1

He is Co-Director of Intersections, a public art research group – see – and Director of Engagement for the School of Arts and Cultures.

He is chair of the Turning Point (Arts Council North East) working party on Continuing Professional Develepment for the visual arts sector.

He has over twenty five years experience and knowledge of working in the visual arts as artist, arts manager, commentator and teacher, working both independently and with others.



David Butler is the Coordinator of LifeWorkArt, a professional development programme for fine art students in the School of Arts and Cultures at the University of Newcastle. This programme was initiated in 2003 with support from  HEFCE FDTL4 Employability funding as a two year action research programme to develop a model integrating professional practice into studio teaching – with an emphasis on the freelance/portfolio models of entrepreneurship prevalent among professionals in the visual arts sector – and is now a fully intergrated part of Fine Art teaching at Newcastle.

LifeWorkArt is well connected with the cultural sector in the region working closely with a wide range of organisations giving advice, support and involving them in delivery of teaching and learning. LifeWorkArt is a experiential programme that develops both art specific and generic professional skills and expertise, and builds a strong CV and professional networks that establish a good profile after graduation. It is based around students developing a wide range of projects outside the university throughout their degree progamme. Strong and diverse connections across the cultural sector enable students to undertake eg: exhibitions (using a variety of spaces), placements, public art projects, curatorial projects, arts and health projects, a wide variety of educational projects in formal and informal contexts.

LIfeWorkArt has developed PG level programmes around freelancing in teh cultural sector for delivery to creative practitioners (as stand alone CPD modules) and as part of a range of PG programmes across the School of Arts & Cultures and the Business School at Newcastle University.

LifeWorkArt engages with research into the arts economy and frameworks for professional development. For example, involvement in the ESRC funded project Identifying and Promoting Sustainable Business Models in the Creative Sector (see and current research into the relation between the art school and the arts sector.



Intersections is a public art research project with a focus on interdisciplinary practice. It generates critical dialogue  and develops pioneering practice-based and theoretical research. Intersections is a project which links Fine Art at Newcastle University with the wider cultural sector through events, research projects and generating debate. Drawing together practitioners, theorists, sector organisations, policy makers and the wider public, Intersections examines issues arising from the creative friction inherent in the interaction of public art practice, policy and public space. We welcome input, please email




As Co-Director of Interrupt he was involved in long-term research into socially engaged art practice. In 2003, with Vivienne Reiss (Arts Council England) he organised a series of five symposia working with academic and arts partners across England. He co-edited a book (Art of Negotiation. pub Cornerhouse, 2005) as part of this research programme (see

Before taking up his current post he worked freelance in project management; publication management; research; writing and curating. Previous to that he worked in visual arts publishing and information provision, firstly as editor of a-n Magazine and then as Commissioning Editor and Development Director for [a-n] THE ARTISTS INFORMATION COMPANY. Before that he was involved with community practice and was programme manager for performing arts at Sunderland Arts Centre


Research Interests

Teaching and learning strategies in universities around professional practice and strategies for continuing professional developemnt in teh cultural sector. Currently looking at  the relationship between fine art education and the visual sector focusing on artist run initiatives.

The relationaship between art practice and policy development – both polocy within the cultural sector (eg policies around professional development for artists – currently chairing Arts Council North East's Turning Point working group on continuing professionla development) and policies outwith the sector (eg regeneration).

Art in the public realm, particulalry socially engaged and participatory practices.


Undergraduate and Postgraduate Teaching

I coordinate LifeWorkArt – a professional development programme for BA and MFA fine art students that is integrated into studio teaching throughout the programme. 

LifeWorkArt was established as an action research project funded by HEFCE through the employability strand of their FDTL4 programme (Fund for the DEvelopemnt of Teaching and Learning). LifeWorkArt integrates professional developemnt and employability into core studio modules rather than teaching it through elective modules. It is also a progressive progamme taught throughout the four years of the BA and two years of the MFA. LifeWorkArt treats professional development as a context for art making that is an ongoing part of artists' professioanl life. Students develop projects outside the university including: exhibitions, public art, placements, education projects, arts and health projects etc. This is done through working with a network of partners across the region: eg Baltic, Globe Gallery, Helix Arts, Isis Arts. 

I also run Art & Enterprise, M level modules that are taught across various postgraduate programmes in the School of Arts & Cultures, into the Arts Business and Creativity MA in teh Business School and as stand alone CPD modules for creative practitioners.

CPD Teaching

LifeWorkArt provides CPD support for creative practitioners both formally and informally working a lot with recent graduates. This is part of an holistic approach to teaching that links our students with practitioners in the sector. A good example is the partnership with Allenheads Contemporary Arts who we work with on residential courses with students, a graduate placement programme and involvement with their artist residency programme (see the Future programme )