Community art is the creation of art as a human right, by professional and non-professional artists, co-operating as equals, for purposes and to standards they set together, and whose processes, products and outcomes cannot be known in advance.A Restless Art, How participation won, and why it matters, (Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation 2019)
Those words appear in A Restless Art, a book I published a couple of years ago. It’s the best definition I can offer of what community art means to me (though it means other things to other people). Community art has been the path of my life for about 40 years – path is better than career, because I’ve followed it into art making, writing, research, policy, training, consultancy and more. Indeed, I’d be hard put to give a conventional label to much of my work over the years. Whether it was interesting, worthwhile, fun and fair pay have always been more important questions.
They still are, though the Covid-19 pandemic has overturned so much of what I once took for granted. The public health measures have been devastating for cultural activity, though art has rarely felt more important to many people. Community art – which exists to bring people together – is on its knees. A creative writing project I was due to do in the spring is now being planned as an online workshop: I’ve no idea how I will do it, but so long as it’s interesting, worthwhile, fun and fair pay I’ll give it my very best shot.
Other kinds of work have been able to continue, one way or another. My main commitment at the moment is a European research project testing how digital technology can support the creation of community opera. You can read about that, and my other current work, below. Elsewhere on this site, you’ll find pages about past projects and a lot of freely accessible books and research reports for download. If you want to be in touch, you can do so through the contact page. If I can’t help, I might know someone who can. In the meantime, I hope you find something useful or interesting on this site: (follow this link if you’re looking for the blog page).
TRACTION is European research project, with partners from Spain, Portugal, Ireland, the Netherlands (and me). We’re looking at how innovative technology can support social inclusion through community opera projects.
Fabulamundi is a project to support playwrights, translation and exchanges between European theatres. I worked with Cristina Da Milano on capacity-building workshops and did a series of filmed interviews with seven of the writers.