Effective institutional partnerships rely on excellent relationships, an understanding of each other’s core purpose and an appreciation of shared values.

This symposium session explored how by starting to work together on one project, HEIs and arts organisations can develop a mutually beneficial relationship that adds significant value to both organisations.

Two minute case study: Starting with a co-commission for the University Art Collection with the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, the University of Salford has developed a number of strategic partnerships with arts organisations across Greater Manchester and beyond.

Session hosts: Colin McCallum, Executive Director, University Advancement and Lindsay Taylor, Art Curator, University of Salford: Zoe Dunbar, Director, Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art.

We heard loud and clear in our session that universities and cultural organisations really do use different language and HE can be guilty of not making things clear let alone easy to access. So the theme of the need to improve two-way communication was strong, as was the importance of leadership buy-in and active support was also touched on.

I was struck on being asked by one colleague to talk about a partnership that had failed as well as those that worked. What can we learn from those that do not work? An example given was one where there was ‘drift’ from the original focus and the partnership became too one sided. Getting out of partnerships that are not working was seen by some to be difficult.