On Thursday, July 9th, 2015, we’ll be exploring this question in an intriguing way. With the help of a small grant from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, we’ve created an event which brings together community artists who began working in the area in the Seventies and early Eighties with artists who began working in the area much more recently. We’ll be exploring what is still common to their practice, what has changed and what can we all learn from each other.
10 brilliant artists have agreed to collaborate together on the event. We’ve paired up artists from drama, textile, print and photography, making and film and video backgrounds and they are currently learning about each other’s practice, discussing the opportunities and challenges they faced then and face now, and designing a workshop together. Organisations working in Greater Manchester are helping us out by inviting participants to the event to get involved in the workshops; we’ve told them it’s a bit of an experiment and we’re really grateful that they’ve agreed to give it a go.
During the event, Gerri will be interviewing the artists about what it’s been like working with each other (when they’re not running their workshop!), film-maker Annie Woodson will be documenting the event for a short film and visual artist Paul Gent will be documenting it too. It’s being held at Manchester University and post-graduate students have volunteered to help us out as well.
In the evening, Alison Jeffers will chair a round table discussion, inviting artists to reflect on broader questions about similarities and difference and about the place of ‘community arts’ in contemporary practice.
We will be posting more about the event in coming weeks and uploading the film and the visual art work when this is ready. It’s also part of our research for the book we’re writing about community arts (we’ve now got a contract with a publisher for this).
Meanwhile, how would you answer our question – do you think community arts practice is still relevant?
Professional Development in the Seventies: Gerri on the beach in North Devon practising her juggling skills with Diana Murray, Beaford Centre Community Project. Her dress sense has since improved. Photographer: Philip Trick