Monday 19 March 2012 – photos and programme (UK)

 9.30-11.30  Holburn community association , Welcome session
12.30

Lunch at the Quaker Friends Meeting House
 2.30 – Presentation by Chrissie Tiller, Head of Cross- sectoral and Community Arts (Goldsmiths College)Understanding the Policy context for Community arts in London: Activity

Monday began with a walk to Holburn Community Association. Having sampled the hotels breakfast for the first time, everyone was ready for the walk to the community association, which took us through a diverse community located close to Great Ormond Street Hospital and Coram fields. A mixture of residential and retail facilities filled the route, with kebab housing mingling amongst more recent additions such as the “School for life’ a new adult learning concept offering talks in a range of topics.

Finding a community venue in the UK to initially meet up was very difficult. Obviously space in London is a premiuim, and it comes at a cost. We knew there was a network of community buildings but these do not necessarily form part of an official network, and their appearance on an Internet search or google maps is limited.

The community building we used for our introduction meeting was reducing in size. It was sandwiched between top end offices and shops, but it very clearly served the needs of the local community with a range of provision for children, older adults and community groups. It was a very different environment to the corporate London, which we had walked through. Our first session took place in a community meeting room, equipped with lots of space, natural light and a giant underwater mural- a room soon to be sold off to private usage.

During the first session, Janet talked through the programme and introduced the concept of resilience. London has had to evolve and adapt to many different circumstances and the community and participatory arts sector has responded accordingly. As part of the week, we would be involved in exploring how and why people have developed their creative services and the impact they have. The group then took part in some participatory exercises, which intended to encourage people to think about their own research question for the week, and consider how they wanted to use the study trip to further their exploration of community and participatory arts in the UK.

In keeping with British tradition we discussed tea, coffee and food provision for the week, with the assurance that everyone would be well fed and there would always be an emergency packet of biscuits available for keeping up the energy.

The session ended by the groups mixing into small groups who had the creative challenge of exploring the area between the community centre and the Quaker friends meeting house, to looks for signs and stories which depicted resilience to them.

During this adventure the group heard about the experiences of 3rd generation restauranteurs in the area, spotted carefully preserved small garden spaces and identified how the physical environment ( including public art) had adapted to serve community needs. Over lunch in the garden ( yes, it was that warm, even on a March day in the UK), we discussed these findings, and considered what surprised people.

The group then set off to Goldsmiths College for an afternoon with Chrissie Tiller, who runs the MA in Cross Cultural Practice and Community arts and is a community arts practitioner in her own right. Chrissie  presented the group with a picture of how community and participatory arts emerged and evolved in the London region, and examined the factors which made the London community arts scene so diverse and active. The group had the opportunity to consider how this related to their own experiences of London and this was reflected further during a traditional British evening meal of fish and chips!

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