My friend, Chris Kennedy was interviewing me for a project he is working on – one which will be valuable to artists who work in communities. The working project information is on his site. The summary or basic premise is that he is looking to archive and codify the work that artists are creating in communities and through that provide a tool for educators and non-profit organizations to connect with art and or artists to help realize their goals. While a pretty huge undertaking, the project would be extraordinarily helpful for both sides.
He and I both have talked at length about the power of experiential learning and the accessibility that art has within communities. We tried to talk more in depth about how or if this kind of work is measurable and or even anecdotal-ly effective. I had a couple of anecdotal pieces to share with him, but nothing in the way of metrics.
We also talked about what are barriers (besides funding – the biggest most obvious one) to participatory, community, interactive, *insert cliche here* types of work. I decided that it was a lack of knowledge on three fronts.
From the educational/non-profit side, a lack of knowledge in the ability of artists & their work to be effective in either educational or initiative efforts.
From the artist side, a lack of ability to talk about one’s work in a language that matters to the educators/non-profits. (Maybe this is a matter of lack f knowledge as well, not knowing what outcomes the other party might be seeking).
And finally, an institutional lack of knowledge – this explains the funding gap, but I think also the knowledge gap. Arts institutions aren’t showcasing or talking about this kind of work. And art educational institutions (at the university level) are not educating their students about this kind of work and therefore artists are not equipped to think or speak about their own work in a way that helps create a sustainable career.
Now, I should throw in a disclaimer that these are crass generalizations, there are definitely educators, non-profits, institutions and educational institutions who absolutely get it. It’s just not broad knowledge.
This is where I think the Artiscycle Platform becomes valuable. If even one person within an organization is interested in working with arts/artists, the Platform will give them the tools to promote this within their own organization.
Another point that we talked about, which I think is worth reprinting/reiterating here is my answers to two questions that Chris posed. What’s the most valuable piece of advice that you could offer anyone working on this type of project, and what do you think causes failures?
My answer to the first was to think big, really big. The larger the project that you take on, the greater its impact.
The second was that you absolutely must consider the impact that your project will have on a community – and you must think through this conscientiously and considerately.(I talked about this in the post, Know Your Audience).
Funny enough, I think those two could also be switched, the best advice would be to know your audience and the cause of failure would be to think too small. (With all the work ahead of you the payoff should be big!)
Interestingly enough, two of the events I just posted are addressing some of these questions:
- Who Do You Think You Are? seeks to develop a language which can be used about non-traditional artwork, and
- But Does It Work? Will explore the impact and effectiveness of interventionist works.
I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on this as well.