Friday 23 March 2012 – photos and programme (UK)

11.00-13.00 Barbican, Art Works & The Paul Hamlyn Foundation
13.00-14.00 Lunch at the Quaker Friends Meeting House
15.00-17.00  Holburn Community Association
17.00-19.00  Review meeting / evaluation

Thoughts about research

The UK Localise team hosted a week’s visit to London, providing a timetable of events and trips within the city for Polish and Lithuanian participants to sample participatory arts activity and to consider what each activity was about, who was it for, how did it develop, how did it function. How did it compare to Polish and Lithuanian equivalents? were there any equivalents? and so on. The 3 UK participants each had research questions around the subject of participatory arts which they presented briefly to the rest of the group. The 3 each chose a day during which they invited the rest of the group to explore their questions using very slight, creative means.  This was an attempt to flag up particular aspects of community arts activity – for discussion and study.

The other aspect of research was to consider the concept of ‘the study trip’ – what was the content? its practicability? its aims? how did it function as a research tool? Some of the more obvious findings regarding practicalities are listed below.  An added potential benefit of this trip was the opportunity to document the findings of a very varied group of people; observations from an Eastern European perspective would be expected, but also from the standpoint of working community artists, community arts managers, of advanced scholars and relatively inexperienced students of cultural animation.  There was some documentation.

There was warm intermingling of participants, friendships were made; discussion of research questions was ad hoc and fleeting, reflection time was short and methods of evaluation limited by time constraints.  People thrown together may function efficiently and communicate the things they need to and no more.

There were some challenges in making the study trip work effectively.  Eg: cost – we needed a ‘gathering for reflection’ venue.  Eg: an organisational glitch –  too many people, not enough facilitators, the choice of London, its unfamiliarity and sheer size and busyness, its streets and transport systems;  or a time issue – getting the balance of visits and free-time was a contentious issue.

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