Yesterday the UK Branch of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation hosted a conference about participatory art at the old Town Hall in Shoreditch (London). All the organisations who have been long-listed for funding in the Foundation’s participatory performing arts strand were invited to ‘share the stage’ in an event dedicated to encouraging reflection, debate and the exploration of new collaborations.
Such an approach is always risky, but it was well thought through and expertly delivered on the day. The result was one of the most enjoyable and stimulating conferences I’ve attended recently. The atmosphere was collegiate and supportive, which could hardly be taken for granted since everyone there was in competition for the same resources. But most of all, I came away inspired by the ideas and commitment of lots of people I met for the first time, and hopeful that good work is not just being sustained but developing in new ways.
If you were there and want to see the notes I used for my talk, click on the link. The essay that sets out those ideas more fully can be downloaded from here, along with other writing about community and participatory arts.