Academies or Schools of Art and Design have traditionally and, in the most part, concentrated on the delivery of formal undergraduate and postgraduate courses as well as some ‘recreational’ and other evening classes in art and design. However in recent years in the UK and Ireland, Schools of Art and Design have developed a range of community outreach projects where staff, students and invited artists are involved directly or indirectly with local community based organizations. This pape examines and evaluates this general initiative from a social, political and educational point of view. It also registers it within newly emerging debates that are reconsidering what is the nature of research in art and design within the higher education system and what are appropriate research methodologies for practiced- based research. In particular the paper examines two case studies – one by Philip Napier and Mike Hogg related to Northern Ireland; the other by Mick O’Kelly, as an example of trans-national outreach working in collaboration with groups in Ireland and Brazil.