Community arts, also sometimes known as "dialogical art", "community-engaged" or "community-based art," refers to artistic activity based in a community setting. Works from this genre can be of any media and is characterized by interaction or dialogue with the community. Often professional artists collaborate with people who may not otherwise normally actively engage in the arts. The term was defined in the late-1960s and spawned a movement which grew in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia. In Scandinavia, the term "community art" means more often contemporary art project.
Often community art is based in economically deprived areas, with a community-oriented, grassroots approach. Members of a local community will come together to express concerns or issues through an artistic process, sometimes this may involve professional artists or actors. These communal artistic processes act as a catalyst to trigger events or changes within a community or even at a national or international level.
In English-speaking countries, community art is often seen as the work of community arts centre. Visual arts (fine art, video, new media art), music, and theater are common mediums in community art centers. Many arts companies in the UK do some community-based work, which typically involves developing participation by non-professional members of local communities.
Community art and public art
The term "community art" refers also to the field of community, neighbourhood and public art practice with roots in social justice and popular and informal education methods. In the art world, community art signifies a particular art making practice, emphasizing community involvement and collaboration. Community art is most often art for social change and involves some empowerment of the community members who come together to create artwork/s with artists. This is a growing national, international, regional and local field. Recently community arts and sustainability work or environmental action have begun to interface, including urban revitalization projects creating artwork at a neighbourhood level.
Forms of Collaborative Practices
Models of community-engaged arts can vary with three forms of collaborative practices emerging from among the sets of common practices. In the artist-driven model, artists are seen as the catalysts for social change through the social commentary addressed in their works. A muralist whose work elicits and sustains political dialogue would be a practitioner of this model. In the second model, artists engage with community groups to facilitate specialized forms of art creation, often with the goal of presenting the work in a public forum to promote awareness and to further discourse within a larger community. In the process-driven or dialogic model, artists may engage with a group in order to facilitate an artistic process that addresses particular concerns specific to the group. The use of an artistic process (such as dance or social circus) for problem-solving, therapeutic, group-empowerment or strategic planning purposes may result in artistic works that are not intended for public presentation. In the second and third models, the individuals who collaborate on the artistic creation may not define themselves as artists but are considered practitioners of an art-making process that produces social change.
Due to its roots in social justice and collaborative, community-based nature, art for social change may be considered a form of cultural democracy. Often, the processes (or the works produced by these processes) intend to create or promote spaces for participatory public dialogue.
In Canada, the field of community-engaged arts has recently seen broader use of art for social change practices by non-arts change organizations. The resultant partnerships have enabled these collaborative communities to address systemic issues in health, education, as well as empowerment for indigenous, immigrant, LGBT and youth communities. A similar social innovation trend has appeared where business development associations have engaged with artists/artistic organizations to co-produce cultural festivals or events that address social concerns.
As the field diversifies and practices are adopted by various organizations from multiple disciplines, ethics and safety have become a concern to practitioners. As a result, opportunities for cross-disciplinary training in art for social change practices have grown within the related field of arts education.
Online community art
A community can be seen in many ways, it can refer to different kind of groups. There are also virtual communities or online communities. Internet art has many different forms, but often there is some kind of community that is created for a project or it is an effect of an art project.
Community theatre includes theatre made by, with, and for a community—it may refer to theatre that is made almost by a community with no outside help, or to a collaboration between community members and professional theatre artists, or to performance made entirely by professionals that is addressed to a particular community. Community theatres range in size from small groups led by single individuals that perform in borrowed spaces to large permanent companies with well-equipped facilities of their own. Many community theatres are successful, non-profit businesses with a large active membership and, often, a full-time professional staff. Community theatre is often devised and may draw on popular theatrical forms, such as carnival, circus, and parades, as well as performance modes from commercial theatre. Community theatre is understood to contribute to the social capital of a community, insofar as it develops the skills, community spirit, and artistic sensibilities of those who participate, whether as producers or audience-members.
Community art space
- Woofer Ten (Hong Kong)
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