Summing up Part 1. The Community Artist

Over the last 4 weeks I have examined various models that demonstrate the variety of ways a professional artist may come become engaged to work within communities. I have observed how the artist opportunities and jobs in the arts are also opportunities for communities to be a part of something new. I have looked at the value of an artist who is multi-disciplined. I have drawn examples from the archives of Festive Factory. This week and next, I conclude this series in summing up certain useful observations that will also influence and guide those artists and communities that may be considering to provide work in this way.

It is important to consider carefully every design submitted to a committee because the artist can never be sure as to how many community participants will arrive on the day work is due to begin. Consequently any designs that are submitted must be able to be completed by just the group or individual alone, within the time frame specified, for example, if no one turns up. If the artist residency is project or event based, when show time comes around, the wider community will still expect to see a product delivered.

This fact will act as a limiting filter upon the kinds of designs that are submitted to the committee. There is no point promising the world if the artists can’t of their own efforts, deliver in place on time. So put more simply, any designs must be able to accommodate if possible, the presence of many willing hands, or none. Flexibility is a useful virtue.

As arts workers and artists in residence, artists may employ ‘ccd’ (community cultural development) processes where artwork is produced that is a collaborative effort with the local community, for the planning and production. This approach is often ‘project’ based and it may be a public artwork, a school-based project, a creative consultation process for local government, or a residency at a public institution. This model was fundamental for the Nation on Parade project as cited in the 2nd blog in this series.