About this section
This section provides information about starting to work in participatory settings. It explores: definitions of participatory arts; careers in participatory practice; the range of work; how to get involved and relationships with commissioners.
What do we mean by ‘participatory arts’?
There are many definitions of participatory arts and our presentation on what is participatory arts? explores these. This includes a short definition which is:
Participatory art involves an artist working with at least one other person to take part in a process that an artist facilitates.
Image: artist Theresa Easton’s work with children at Greenfield Community Arts Centre, Newton Aycliffe, Photo: David Lawson
What’s the role?
Research by ArtWorks Scotland identifies six roles for artists working in participatory settings: facilitator, co-collaborator, artist leader, project manager, artist and someone that plans, buys materials, manages finances and evaluations etc. Work spans all artforms: craft and design, dance, film, literature, media, music, performing/combined arts, theatre, visual arts and other artforms. Settings include education, youth work, community, health, criminal justice and other settings.
Who does it?
Our Audit of practice researches the variety of participatory arts taking place within a range of cultural organisations in North East England. The report investigates the activity delivered in each organisation, artmaking practice, approaches to arts in participatory settings, excellence, language, employment of artists and training and development.
Image: artwork created by young people involved in artist Tommy Anderson’s Summertime Jam project for Helix Arts, Barnados, Northumberland Clubs for Young People and Throckley Community Hall
How do I get involved?
The ArtWorks working paper 5 on training and development providers and opportunities identifies that training and development opportunities in participatory settings are provided through: accredited and non-accredited courses; seminars and conferences; distance and online teaching; peer-to-peer networking and conversations; project collaborations; placesments, ‘live projects’ and work experience; internships and apprenticeships; shadowing; observation; coaching and mentoring; use of toolkits, research and online resources; reflective and reflexive practice.
Image: prop and sensory exercise with carnations and marbling used by artist Claire Ford in ArtWorks North East Health Workshop 2
The commissioner’s angle
ArtWorks pathfinder Navigator used artists laboratories to explore how employers and commissioners can ensure they are hiring ‘quality’ and what professional development might result in better hiring. These in-depth conversations with, and between, artists and employers/commissioners of artists working in participatory settings also explored practice differences and whether there were sufficient commonalities to allow for common training, qualifications and standards across different art forms, values, intents and purposes and settings.
Image: masks used by artist Pady O’Connor in ArtWorks North East Health Workshop 1