First day at the Engage international conference – stimulating discussion, talks and workshops… keywords for the day:
How do you make sure that community art is co-creation or co-production with the communities it is serving? One answer given at the conference was: asking, involving, listening, then acting – not on what you want to do, but on what the community wants to do. Get more involved in the community – what are they fighting for? Get involved in those fights.. This probes a core question of any public-art – who decides what matters?
Much of today’s conference discussion of co-creation revolved around artists seeking out the voices and stories of the community. Important though narrative is, doesn’t the act of people telling their story through art, inevitably happen within the limitation of society’s aspirations for those people? As a disabled person, I find that some people are willing to “listen” to me, many less are willing to believe I can contribute, lead, or make a difference… and at times it is hard for me to believe that too. So, yes. I agree, the arts absolutely should be a vehicle for people to have a voice, to tell their stories, to advocate for what is important to a community. And, as well as giving a voice, arts must have a role in seeking a bigger vision, believing that having found a voice, perhaps things can begin to change?… Does “telling your story” automatically lead to individual or community hope? does one automatically grow out of the other or do we as practitioners/facilitators need to keep both in mind?
More information on Engage – Rethinking Diversity
Many thanks to Artlinks Square Peg for the opportunity to attend this event.