Co-creation and collective action, then and now

‘Launch’ a film by Amber Collective (1974)

It is a curious thing that the first official account of community arts in Britain should have been overseen by a classicist. Professor Harold Baldry (1907-91) had been Professor of Classics at Southampton University and Chairman of Southern Arts Association before becoming a member of the Arts Council of Great Britain in 1973. The year he joined, the Council

‘decided to set up a small working party whose task was essentially to examine the nature of community arts activities in this country and to advise the Council on what should be the extent of its own role and involvement in this development.’

Between January and June 1974, the Working Party met several times, read a variety of documents it was sent and visited community arts projects in London, Leeds, Bradford and Bracknell. It met representatives of arts associations, UNESCO, the French Embassy, the Home Office and Telford New Town Project, among others. And it produced a short, elegant report that argued for a new Community Arts Committee be established to fund the work, based on a loose definition of what community arts actually was. Continue reading “Co-creation and collective action, then and now”

Co-creation

isto-e-partis-14
‘Fragmentos’, Grupo RefugioActo (photo François Matarasso)

Changing relationships in the networked age

What is co-creation? The term has come into participatory art discourse recently, but I’ve not been able to find a clear explanation of what it describes. At face value, it seems to make sense. Participatory art is the practice of involving others in an artist’s creative process. According to Wikipedia, this allows them ‘to become co-authors, editors, and observers of the work’. Fair enough: that sounds like something you might call co-creation. But what is the nature and degree of creative input people are actually being invited to contribute?

Continue reading “Co-creation”

‘Sometimes you’ve got to take risks for the unknown’

bed-2014-entelechy-arts-photo-roswitha-chesher

‘Sometimes you’ve got to take risks for the unknown. You don’t know what you are going into but you’ve got to take that risk.’

Gwen Sewell, Entelechy Elders Company

On a Bristol shopping street stands an outsize metal bed. On it lies an elderly woman in night clothes, propped against her pillows.

People walk by, hurrying, careless or sensing something weird: they don’t want to know. Others stop, concerned. Are you alright? Is someone looking after you? What are you doing here? The old woman responds by talking about her life. Her children who live far away in Leeds. The baby taken from her because she was unmarried. Her sorrows, her world. Memories. She asks for something tucked in the bedclothes; she talks about a photograph.

Continue reading “‘Sometimes you’ve got to take risks for the unknown’”