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Freedom of Expression


Kettle’s Yard’s programme is primarily made up of exhibitions, community and learning activities, music concerts and public programme events, such as collection and exhibition talks and tours. The majority of the programme takes place at Kettle’s Yard, while some programme activities take place in the community or online in the form of live or recorded talks and programme related resources.

The Director of Kettle’s Yard is also the Artistic and Programme Director, with responsibility for all activities which constitute the programme. In particular, the Director researches and selects the major exhibitions (and decisions concerning related publications) working closely with the Assistant Director and other team members.


At present, three major exhibitions each year are researched and presented. Typically, these involve working with living artists. One in around five exhibitions is inspired by an artist represented in the permanent collection displayed in the Kettle’s Yard house. Sometimes exhibitions include works by both living artists and artists whose work is in the collection. We aim to be ambitious, original and international in scope in planning our programme, presenting exhibitions which challenge and surprise, championing innovation in form and content.

There are many factors which determine the selection of exhibitions. These include a desire for a varied and dynamic programme, the design and capacity of the gallery spaces, a reputation for exhibiting the work of outstanding artists and for making compelling and critically engaged exhibitions, and budget considerations.

Kettle’s Yard’s policy relating to the nature of its programme, including exhibitions, is always evolving as it seeks to reflect changes within the arts and within society.

The overall aim is to deliver Kettle’s Yard’s mission and current ambitions and work to support and champion Kettle’s Yard’s values. We also seek to contribute strongly to Arts Council’s England’s ‘Let’s Create’ Strategy as well as current, relevant strategies of the University and the University of Cambridge Museums consortium.

Kettle’s Yard Mission

To contribute to society by inspiring and engaging audiences through art, learning and research of the highest quality.

Kettle’s Yard Vision

For Kettle’s Yard to excite, inspire and enrich all who visit and participate, in Cambridge and online.


  • Openness 

Encompassing our commitment to access, equality, anti-racism and enriching communities. Seeking to be generous and caring, making a programme of events and activities inspired by Jim and Helen Ede’s vision of a place in which everyone is welcome and can be enriched.

  • Creativity 

Fundamental to the ethos of Kettle’s Yard, from inspiring visitors to be creative in their own lives and communities, to the diverse creativity of the artists we support and whose work we present, to how we think about the future of Kettle’s Yard.

  • Collaboration 

Working with others – to learn from them and achieve stronger and richer outcomes. Contributes to sustainability through adding value and efficiency when exhibitions and projects are organised collaboratively and shared widely.

  • Insight 

As part of the university, we undertake, enable, and disseminate research to generate new insights about art and artists, so deepening knowledge and enriching public engagement. We can elicit valuable insights and learn and grow as an organisation through conversations – whether with children and young people, members of the community, visitors or among our colleagues.  

  • Sustainability 

There is a cost to our existence and our work. Addressing how we run Kettle’s Yard to reduce our carbon footprint is essential. We need to act and plan to reduce waste of all kinds and strengthen our financial resilience to secure our long- term health and wellbeing. This runs across everything that we do.

Ambitions 2023 – 2027

Encompassing our values and commitment to excellence in all we undertake across the visual arts, music, community and learning and research.

  • To make outstanding exhibitions

Celebrating art and artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. An exhibitions programme which champions diversity, draws on research and inspires creativity.

  • To launch and develop ‘Perspectives’

A platform for commissioning and sharing research, projects and programmes, deepening understanding and knowledge of the house and collection, and our wider programme, through many voices and stories.

  • To inspire and engage young people, children and local communities  

Building on long standing creative programmes with young people, schools and communities and offering new opportunities for students at the University of Cambridge.

  • To devise and implement a new Research Strategy 

Strengthening Kettle’s Yard role as a resource and catalyst for research and insight, through new programmes and publications.

  • To implement a major fundraising campaign

To build the endowment by £5m by 2027, Kettle’s Yard’s 70th anniversary, so we can plan ahead and sustain our reputation for excellence and innovation.

Running through the Ambitions, and across all of Kettle’s Yard’s work, is a continuing commitment to anti – racism, environmental responsibility and access. These areas of organisational review and change are subject to individual policies and plans.

As part of the University of Cambridge, Kettle’s Yard also seeks to contribute strongly to the University’s Mission:

‘To contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence’.

Freedom of Speech and Expression

Kettle’s Yard has a duty to support and champion all the University’s policies. This includes the University’s policies relating to freedom of speech and expression.

As an institution, Kettle’s Yard does not hold political views or express political views. We champion art and artists and the value of research, learning and engagement in the visual arts. We also present music concerts and run a wide range of activities and events. We strongly support the freedom of speech and expression of artists and others with whom we work or partner. In particular (and encompassing guest curators and creative partners), we recognise that artists often make art works or speak about artworks within a political context and sometimes with the intention of stating or promoting a particular political stance. However, Kettle’s Yard does not take a view regarding an artist’s political beliefs or other beliefs, whether expressed within the context of the galleries, the wider programme or in another context. Our position is rather to support the artist’s right to express their views, within the law.

At the same time, as an institution, we are responsible for which works of art and cultural material are displayed at Kettle’s Yard (in the House and galleries) and online, and for our programme of music and events. We are sensitive to how art, cultural objects, music and events may be differently understood or experienced by visitors and audiences, and related discourse.  We therefore seek to contextualise, interpret and to offer explanatory and content notes, as appropriate.

In relation to Kettle’s Yard staff, volunteers and members of our committees: they are free to express their political and personal views on social media and in any other form as long as this is not done in a way which suggests they are speaking for Kettle’s Yard or that a view expressed is endorsed by Kettle’s Yard. Kettle’s Yard staff are expected to reflect the values of the organisation when expressing views that could be associated with their employment.

Andrew Nairne
May 2023