National Network Case Study Day: Public Engagement, Community Building, Citizenry and Use Value

1 November 2016
Migration Study Day at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art. Courtesy of photographer Michelle Maddison
Migration Study Day at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art. Courtesy of photographer Michelle Maddison

Held on 14 September 2016 at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

Centred around the ongoing discussion towards the reimagining of art institutions, this Case Study Day examined the ways in which museums and galleries can become active civic agents and spaces operating within society.

The Case Study Day addressed proposals for public engagement beyond established models of representation and participation, in which citizenry and usership are positioned at the core of missions and programmes. Topics included the social function of art, co-production of projects with people, redistribution of authorship, involvement of artists in community building, and the integration of creativity into ordinary life.

Speakers included Barby Asante, artist, London; Viviana Checchia, Public Engagement Curator, Centre for Contemporary  Arts, Glasgow; Jo Hunter, Associate, New Citizenship Project, London; Sally Tallant, Director, Liverpool Biennial.

Video 1 (please note that due to a technical issue there is no sound until 37:24):

00:00: Viviana Checchia “When they cannot be in the same picture”
This presentation focuses on the definition of civic practice specifically when developed within the institution. Civic practice as social practice can, but not exclusively, refer to the application of art to community concerns. Within these circumstances art practitioners operate in response to the needs of non-arts partners as determined through ongoing, relationship-based dialogue. When talking about the CCA Glasgow, civic practices request the creation of a process within which the institutions enter into mutually beneficial relationships with other organisations, community groups and collectives which, at times, implies arts organisations developing relationships outside of the arts community.

31:36: Jo Hunter “Everyone an artist? How everyday creativity can support the democratisation of culture”
In this session, Jo Hunter explores the link between everyday creativity and the democratisation of culture. Using case studies from the work of 64 Million Artists, New Citizenship Project and organisations such as Tate and Battersea Arts Centre, Jo will look at how simple methods of engagement can move us from thinking simply about ‘audiences’ and ‘visitors’ and to start thinking about participants and everyday artists. Tracking the history of the role of the individual in society from Subject to Consumer to Citizen, we will look at how it is more important now than ever to think of culture as being made by, with and for everyone, rather than just a limited few.

Video 2:

00:00: Barby Asante “Prove That You Belong”
Since 2014 Barby has been working with the sorryyoufeeluncomfortable collective, a collective of young artists, thinkers and activists formed around a collaborative project Baldwin’s Nigger Reloaded. This project explores questions around present global conditions and the prevailing neo-liberal capitalist domination of ideology, explored in the action of re-writing and performing Baldwin’s 1969 speech in London as documented in Horace Ove’s film Baldwin’s Nigger. She has been developing projects and events with the collective and her agency for agency collaborator Teresa Cisneros, that speaks to the many pressing issues and interests, bringing to the fore a number of issues that are extremely pertinent for young people, especially those who identify as people of colour, those from migrant and refugee backgrounds, those who interrogate gender and sexuality and those who are interested in why their stories/ histories/ creative endeavours are invisible. In this presentation Barby draws on this work and other projects to consider critiques and ideas of inclusion in arts and culture. She looks at some of her work within institutional ideas of participation and participatory practice and how arts institutions from galleries to art schools, often fail to address or accept the pressing issues faced by these young people and in doing so serve to reinforce difference, highlight inequality and reiterate a sense of un-belonging.

43:42: Sally Tallant “City is a school”
Sally Tallant focuses on the importance and specificities of international art events in regional cities with Liverpool Biennial as a case study. Since 2012 she has transformed Liverpool Biennial by expanding its organisational model to include and prioritise ongoing research, education and production, developing a creative community, and building the city as a place of artistic experimentation.

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