Friday, 16 December 2011

Artswork Resilience special now available online



The special edition of Artswork, the journal of the Community Arts Network, South Australia, which I wrote about in October, is now available on-line. You can see from the contents page (above) why I was both flattered and nervous when I opened it. 

I was especially glad to read Nick Hughes's essay on the application of the 8 characteristics I identified to his Restless Dance Company. He talk through each and concludes: 'So the theory of Adaptive Resilience is a very useful tool in analysing the functioning of an organisation like Restless Dance. It provides insights into the dynamics of the company’s operations and it helps to identify where more can be done to improve its health and robustness. One of the best aspects of the theory is that it changes the language and the mindset used to examine a performing arts company. It encourages you to see it as a moving and interacting entity; as an organism rather than a plan or a picture. It stresses the importance of qualities like persistence, flexibility and adaptability.' This is what I've found, and been told, when using it with organisations, or groups of leaders thinking about their area or sector.


One thing which was pointed out to me in response to my original post was that 'community arts' is not a term widely used in the UK at the moment - 'participatory' is probably used more to describe the kinds of work that described itself as 'community arts'. But that the work and movement and many organisations - such as Helix Arts, Community Arts North West or Soft Touch who I looked at when researching Making Adaptive Resilience Real - have proved extremely resilient, stretching back 25, 30 years or more, despite never really being what you would call flavour of the month with funders - or certainly not all at once. 

The community arts field has also been a major compenent of the 'adaptive capacity' of what you might call the mainstream to change and integrate more inclusive practices. Both people and practices have found their way into previously resistant areas of the arts, although that's not to say the change has been what it could or should have been. This history is different in Australia, but I suspect many people working in the community/participatory/inclusive/local/callitewhatyouwill arts anywhere will find thoughts and feelings which resonate with them describe in this edition.


If you want to go for the resilience hat-trick, or see how my thinking progressed with time and some more help and ideas, you can also (re)visit the paper on the role of diversity in building resilience which I co-wrote with Tony Nwachukwu. 

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