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Looking at a handbook for participatory arts workers I wrote in 1994, I came across this list of reasons why the work deserves public funding. I could think of a few more today: if you have others, please share them in the comments below.

Public funds should be spent on community-based arts activities because:

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Britain is a signatory, defines participation in the cultural life of the community as a basic human right.
  • Control of their own cultural identities strengthens the ability of individuals and groups to participate equitably in the local community and the democratic process.
  • Millions of people do not have access to the existing provision for economic, physical, social, or cultural reasons.
  • Spending on the arts is determined by criteria which unfairly disadvantage certain artforms, ways of working and cultures.
  • Terms of access to the arts should not be determined by any single sector of society to the disadvantage of any other.
  • Investing in the cultural vitality of local communities improves the quality of life of those who lives there.
  • They are the constantly-renewed base of the arts in general, and so contribute to an important and successful sector of the economy.
  • Broadening the range of people involved in the arts challenges existing aesthetic values and enriches the arts and culture generally.
  • The huge response to community-based arts activities proves that people want them.
  • The work which results is fun exciting unpredictable, infectious, positive, awkward, imaginative, challenging and human.

From Matarasso, F. (1994) Regular Marvels: Handbook for animateurs, practitioners and development workers in dance, mime, music and literature. Leicester: Community Dance & Mime Foundation, pp 6-7.

2 thoughts on “Reasons for funding participatory art

  1. Would artworks co-created by community participation more likely be accepted by that community and therefore be a longer term investment by funders opposed to art created by single or external artists? Perhaps this may come under the bullet point? “Broadening the range of people involved in the arts challenges existing aesthetic values and enriches the arts and culture generally.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Would artworks co-created by community participation more likely be accepted by that community and therefore be a longer term investment by funders opposed to art created by single or external artists? Perhaps this may come under the bullet point? “Broadening the range of people involved in the arts challenges existing aesthetic values and enriches the arts and culture generally.”

    Like

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