Thursday, 2 March 2017

What is the point of this project?

Just in case it was not clear what we are doing I thought I would put up a note of a conversation I had with Jayne Humm who is the Chair of ARVAC. see here:
She works for the Big Local project and what she said was very interesting.

Jayne began by saying that she didn’t want a toolkit as they were too simplistic and implied that we could provide ‘off the shelf’ solutions to complex issues in communities. 

Jayne was interested in was the theoretical approaches to art and how people relate to art – this is often quite hidden. An account of what is the practice within arts approaches to social cohesion and providing the detail and implications of that practice would be very useful.

Jayne outlined some of the issues for her. This included local community residents and local organisers who are trying to understand the process around social cohesion as part of their work, and might find it useful to think about arts methods in this context. Her context is of the Big Local in which communities were trying to solve problems for themselves.  What might work is if they had an accessible way of understanding what is possible in certain situations, eg sometimes dealing with conflict in groups and how to find different ways of thinking about that that unsettle or diversify the issues in different ways. We talked about play (this links to the Adventure Playground project) and artistic methods that might unsettle long term grievances, for example, something an artist did in Northern Ireland that enabled people to listen to sotries differently.

What might be useful is a way of valuing different approaches that draw on particular theoretical traditions and to have that explained, maybe in a series of short films presented on the ARVAC website - not as ‘how tos’ but as ‘ways through’ issues or complexities within communities.

We ended up with the idea of ‘spaces for learning’ as a positive word to describe what we are doing. The project will be working on that idea and developing resources that could feed into a space for learning that ARVAC would find useful.

To summarise:
ARVAC is interested in what can the arts offer community researchers? This is not to arrive at a simplistic answer about using art techniques, but suggesting what’s important to understand about how art works and how people engage with art as well as how arts methods can be used in community research.

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