Mapping the landscape: A workshop interrogating how we build capacities and communities for individuals and groups affected by disruption through socially engaged practices.

Year: 2019

Author: Coleman, Kathryn, Cook, Peter, Zapata, Restrepo, Gloria, Selkrig, Mark

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

There is overwhelming evidence to indicate that engaging with socially engaged arts practices with individuals and communities has significant impact on activism, social interaction, political debate and collaboration. As a result, the arts have been employed in a range of contexts to enhance the position of various marginalised, disengaged, socially excluded or economically disadvantaged communities. The impact or benefits are often distilled into two distinct categories:

* The ‘instrumental’ benefits for the public good, for example seeing improvements in educational standards; notions of wellbeing including personal health, personal development, social support, social inclusion, social capital, urban renewal or community regeneration, tolerance and cross-cultural understanding (McQueen-Thomson & Ziguras, 2002; Mulligan et al., 2007; Myer, 2002; Rogers & Spooks, 2003); and
* The ‘intrinsic’ benefits such as pleasure, stimulation and meaning with an emphasis on the private and personal.

Along with thinking that these benefits are generated by both formal and informal means of learning in and through arts education, a range of descriptors have also emerged to describe the work including community arts practices: community arts and cultural development practice, dialogical art practices, socially engaged arts, participatory arts, and participatory and educational arts activities.

In this participatory and performative workshop, we will provide opportunities to grapple with the impact and benefits of the conceptual and practical dimensions and intersections of the arts, education and culture for creating a socially just world. We will begin by mapping our collective practices, intentions, methodologies, methods, beliefs, values, ethical principles, aesthetics and activisms through the visual and performing arts. The facilitators will first outline their practices and connect these to the intentional and intrinsic benefits. Participants will then be asked to provide examples from their experiences again linked to the impact and benefit of their work. Together we will explore ways to use participatory and social practice approaches in arts education and arts educational practice research as practitioners who work across practices and cultures to locate spaces, places, issues, intentions and ethics.

Additionally, the workshop is an invitation to participate in an ongoing joint research project. The aims of the research project and overarching questions will be formulated as part of the workshop experience form an interdisciplinary perspective as artists and educators. The project will draw on issues of representation and community engagement from this mapping that locates bodies of practice, and the ethical considerations of using the arts as a tool for social change.