“Public Art, Community-Engaged Performance, Socially-Engaged Practice, Arts Participation, Applied Drama, Immersive Theatre, Relational Aesthetics” … you put a label on it, we do it!
For much of my time in the theatre, I have been associated with a loose movement of artists and activists for change, in Ireland and internationally, for whom the idea of making art while also hanging with the neighbours and maybe getting the neighbours involved is not a BAD THING TO DO.
When you strip away the academic discourse around it, the political jargon behind it and the barriers in its way, community arts is just another way of making poetry out of the muck and brick of life and places. Sometimes what is lost in varnished craft is gained in truth and intelligence. Sometimes not. But by-and-large people are liberated by the invitation and the discipline of making new things.
I have always been interested in ideas from any source that propose ways in which art can catalyse change, stimulate new thinking in communities or engage people who might previously have been denied access to their cultural heritage or entitlement.
Read here about two recent public art / community-engaged projects (2008-2011).
Read here the abridged text of a paper to the Citizenship and Applied Theatre conference, New York University 2010 on the question of Aesthetics in Community-Engaged Theatre.