(UK) London – thoughts on research by Jane Goetzee (UK)
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 practitioners of cultural animation. There was some documentation.
This result is not clear because several issues if addressed could result in ‘the study trip’ being invaluable in research terms. Eg: cost – funding did not stretch to 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.
A unified – and loud – declaration of intent regarding what the research aims were may have tasked the whole group in a focused way – imbuing a sense of responsibility regarding the research documentation. Add the space and opportunity for reflection, and perhaps a feedback imperative, and rich material will be captured. There is a risk that although (happily) individual participants benefited personally in terms of their own practice, good observations were made – a vote of confidence regarding study trips – but were lost to the Localise research project. The financial and organisational issues resulting in this loss may stem from unrealistic expectations of funders.
no dedicated study or discussion space
need of a clear itinerary
London – a huge area to travel around, a very busy, chaotic place for newcomers inc hosts
no reflection time after each session
no real chance to feedback at the end
herding is not easy for elders – and unnecessary with the right prep
logistical negotiation – shared problem-solving
supported explorations of new bits of London
common interest and sharing of knowledges
comparisons of different approaches, within London and across Europe.