In recent years, as interest in participatory arts has increased, more research has been published, much of it available online. Some of it is produced by academics, some by consultants, some by the organisations themselves. Naturally, it varies in quality and interest, though not necessarily according to its source. This is a gradually evolving list of some of the work that I have found interesting, with some of my writing on these issues.
New and invited texts
Julia Rone, 2017, Banking, creative activism and theatre: the Hazte Banquero story, This article describes how the Spanish activist group, XNET, are prosecuting fraudulent bankers and politicians in the courts and in the theatre. While the legal proceedings continue, ‘Become a Banker’, has been seen by almost 10,000 people in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, A Coruña, Girona and Tàrrega, helping ensure that the truth is understood and remembered. It’s also available online, in a version with English subtitles. The story is not over, but through this citizens; theatre, XNET are keeping attention on the true causes of the hardship undergone by Spanish people
Heba El-Cheikh, 2016, Audiences and Art in Public Space in Egypt Heba El-Cheikh is a founder member of Mahatat Collective, a group established 2011 to work in the arts with young people and community groups. In this piece, she describes the challenges and successes of developing participatory art in Egypt today.
Chris Fremantle, 2015 The Hope of Something Different Chris Fremantle is a producer and researcher working across healthcare, energy and ecology. He is particularly interested how people, particularly with different knowledge and expertise work together for eco-cultural well-being In this short text he considers the connections between participatory arts and escorts and makes a case for a wider vision that embraces all the inhabitants of a place. Ecoart Scotland
- Francois Matarasso, 2013 Creative Progression: Reflections on Quality in Participatory Art This paper uses a case study to explore quality in different stages of a participatory art programme with homeless people by Helix Arts in Newcastle, England. It outlines five stages where quality should be considered – conception, contracting, working, creation and completion – and argues for the value of good, open and honest thinking rather than neat answers.
- François Matarasso, 2015, Music and Social Change: Intentions and Outcomes This paper was given at the launch of the SIMM (Social Impact of Music Making) Research Centre of Ghent University in October 2015. It questions some assumptions about art and how people respond to it arguing that ‘impact’ is a misleading metaphor with which to explain this. It proposes a clearer recognition of the value of participation itself, and suggests a probability-based approach to accounting for change
- Francois Matarasso, 1997, Use or Ornament? The Social Impact of Participation in the Arts This two year study of participatory arts projects was the first of its kind in Britain. It established many of the ideas and terms that were taken up during the ‘second generation’ of practice, when many artists deliberately sought to work with public bodies on explicit social agendas. For that reason, those for whom such work was anathema, were sometimes critical of this research.
- Ní Léime A., & O’Shea, E., 2008, The Bealtaine Festival, A Celebration of Older People in the Arts, Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, Galway,
- Mara Lockowandt, 2013, “Inclusion Through Art: An Organisational Guide to Using the Participatory Arts with Young Asylum Seekers and Refugees” – includes useful discussion of participatory art and the ethical issues it can raise
- APPG, 2017, Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing Inquiry Report, London
There is a great deal of writing about community and participatory art in English, from Britain, the USA and elsewhere. Most of this is in the form of reports about projects and its interest naturally varies widely. There have also been many attempts to catalogue these publications: the most recent, a Literature Review of Participatory Performing Arts by Chrissie Tiller for the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, is a good place to start getting an overview of the material.