Well, I had a brilliant (if exhausting!) day on July 9th, at the University of Manchester.
I once told my mother that I wanted to change the world. With typical common sense, she pointed out that there was an awful lot of it to change. My answer was that there were thousands and thousands of people, all over the world, who wanted to do the same.
So it was inspiring to spend a day in the company of 10 artists who have made and are making change happen and listening to their collective passion, intelligence and wisdom. It was inspiring to be joined for the day by 35 workshop participants from across Greater Manchester and 5 University of Manchester students who took risks, experimented, produced work, talked, laughed and shared experiences with each other. And it was great to be able to document the day well– with the help of film-makers and a visual artist. We’ll be sharing much more about what happened and what we learned in the weeks and months to come.
I wanted to share my (preliminary) sense of what the artists thought and felt their work was about, based on interviews I carried out with them during the day. They talked about:
- Co-authorship and collaboration
- Fighting against injustice and inequality
- Building community and supporting different kinds of communities
- Encouraging individual creativity and expression, linked to wellbeing
- Opening up wide-ranging conversations that can lead to collective action
Some practitioners might say their work addresses all of these themes and some might say their work is more closely aligned to one or two of them than to others. The artists also talked about making beautiful art, making thought-provoking art, making challenging art, making art that has contemporary relevance, making art that has the power to move people.
Would you describe your practice differently? Or have you perhaps seen or taken part in a powerful piece of work that addressed something else which should be ‘in the mix’? Help us build the picture.
What a great event last week! I also definitely saw common threads between all the practitioners. One of the things I noticed was how much more openly political community art used to be – a voice of protest – and how although currently it can still be political, it does not necessarily outwardly express this to the wider public. This could perhaps be because of one of the other things that were discussed – funding – and whether this has a significant influence on how vocal a community artist can be within the bounds of rules and regulations.
Hi Gerri It sounds like the 9th was indeed an inspirational day! But what did you expect? true community artists are inspirational people! :-)) that said, so are other people who wouldn’t call themselves artists at all…why is this do you think? (I don’t have an answer, its just a question…) For me, I am constantly learning from those who I work with, the creative skills knowledge and understanding that people display and are willing to share never fail to amaze me! Why is it that I consider myself to be ‘artistic’ and ‘creative’ but they don’t? Why do some see the creative process as a power for change? and others don’t? Suppressive regimes? (in its broadest sense) well yes, maybe? Is it that community arts practitioners simply set and resource the arena and then it can happen? maybe….but not quite…
There is a synergy with children’s play…play and creativity are sound bedfellows, both enable and facilitate a playful creative response that is powerful, that gives ‘permission’ to meet fundamental human needs… the trick is to translate that into human rights, so is the most important role of the community arts practitioner , the playworker to ignite the fire for change? probably… Di x