This report was designed to give an overview of our stakeholder forum, and highlight some of the commonalities and differences represented by those who make-up the group, and their opinions about the issues within the field of socially engaged practice at the start of the project. It was sent to the stakeholders for approval in December, and is now being published here on Axisweb.
There were several concerns addressed by the respondents, which have also come up in our discussions about socially engaged art, language and knowledge sharing. The first of these was that, although 82% of the respondents described their work as ‘Socially Engaged Art’, this encompassed a multitude of other ways of working and terms used to describe this work. Several respondents commented on the difficulty of encompassing the diverse manifestations of socially engaged art under one term, and resisted categorisation under a single definition. The fundamental differences in approach between artists who work under the term of socially engaged art is part of what makes this field such a dynamic and exciting place to work, however, how are we to come to a consensus over how this work receives validation if the terminology used to describe it is so diverse? The Models of Validation team will be consider this in more detail over the coming months, with the aim to write a think-piece on how hybridity and interdisciplinarity should be celebrated as an essential aspect of this practice.
Another interesting outcome of the report was to find that only 14% of respondents described their practice as agonistic. The use of the term ‘agonism’ is common within reports and articles disseminating research on socially engaged art. Just a few examples are cited below:
This indicates another potential barrier in the language used to describe socially engaged practice, and a gap between research produced and how practitioners identify themselves, and subsequently engage with the discourse in the field. In our early discussions about what an online platform for socially engaged practice could look like, it was mentioned that there is a lack of accessible, critical, peer focused and lead writing in the field, and that this was potentially something that could be addressed through an online platform for sharing discourse. We will continue to develop this idea in the interviews taking place with stakeholders over the next few months.
One final point of interest (there are tons of others in the report, but I don’t want to make this post too long!) was that 79% of the people questioned identified as having worked in the field for 10+ years, with no one selecting less than 5 years experience. This indicates that the field is full of the kind of on-the-job knowledge that accompanies working in this way for a long period of time; the kind that is invaluable to the continued support and growth of socially engaged practice. This includes experiences of process that have ‘gone well’, but also those that didn’t work out, and the issues that were encountered before, during and after projects had taken place. Investigating knowledge-sharing methods and how these can be represented in the proposed online platform will be a key part of the work we are undertaking at the start of 2018, and how all the stakeholders involved in socially engaged practice could benefit from having access to this kind of support.
As usual any comments about the report/project please add below, or feel encouraged to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!