Engaging Art : The Artful Dodgers Studio: A Theoretical Model of Practice

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    by Martin T

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    by Martin Thiele & Sally Marsden


    by Martin Thiele & Sally Marsden

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    This initiative was made possible with the generous support of The William Buckland Foundation.

    This publication was made possible with financial support from:The Commonwealth Government through the Australia Council, its Artsfunding and Advisory Body and the VicHealth Arts for Health Program.

    Our partners in promotion and dissemination of this publication are:

    All rights reserved. Thispublication is copyright.

    Except as permittedunder the Copyright Act,

    no part of this publicationmay be reproduced by any

    process, electronic orotherwise, without thepermission in writing

    from the publisher andauthors. Neither mayinformation be stored

    electronically in any formwhatsoever without such

    permission. All effortshave been made to

    contact copyright ownersof images included in this

    publication. Any queriesshould be directed to

    Jesuit Social Services.

    Jesuit Social Services321 Church StreetPO BOX 271Richmond Vic 3121

    Tel: +61 3 9427 7388Fax: +61 3 9427 1819

    Jesuit Social Services 2003 ISBN 0957780338

    Authors Martin Thiele & Sally MarsdenProject Manager Julie Edwards Editor Lynn BuchananPhotographer Tim GreshamDesign Dianna Wells DesignPrinter Bambra Press

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    PREFACE............................................................................... 12



    1 The theoretical model of practice in The Artful Dodgers Studio....................................... 34

    2 Case studies................................................................ 44

    3 The artist practitioner..................................................66


    4 The pentagon model:Towards an ethical practice......................................... 82

    5 Building an evidence base: Dynamic observation in community cultural development................................................... 98

    APPENDIX : 1Assessing the compatibility of the artist practitioner with the community...................................112

    APPENDIX : 2Checklist for artist practitioners when taking on a project or setting up a program..................................... 116


    FURTHER READING.............................................................120






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    In 2000 we edited Risking Art: Art for Survival, a publicationgiving an overview of twelve youth-focused health and welfareagencies employing artists on a continuing basis. We releasedRisking Art: Art for Survival as part of the 12th InternationalJohns Hopkins Philanthropic Fellows Conference in Melbourne,July 2000, and were overwhelmed by the response. Initially weprinted 2,000 copies of Risking Art, but six months after its releasewe had reprinted and distributed the best part of 5,000 copies.

    This publication is effectively a companion book to Risking Art:Art for Survival. It represents the culmination of three years workexamining the role of the arts as a framework for socially re-engaging highly marginalised young people.

    As we have both worked in community cultural development fora number of years, we were intrigued by the response to RiskingArt. Many people expressed to us that, while there was no shortageof artistic debates about community cultural developmentpractice, there was a dearth of relevant evidence and a lack ofuseful discourse about the social and community change effects ofthe practice. It was generally thought that this lack of evidence wasthe number one obstacle for practitioners seeking to obtainresources for the work. Naturally this got us thinking, and withthe assistance of Elizabeth Cham from Philanthropy Australia andSandra Whitty from the William Buckland Foundation, weinvestigated the possibility of adding another layer to our work.

    It was Elizabeth Cham who pointed out that one of the problemswe would experience, if indeed our objective was to build anevidence base, was the fact that we lacked our own theoreticalreference points. She suggested that this might be the next stage inour work and we excitedly, though perhaps in retrospect, naively given that neither of us had to that point thought of ourselves astheorists agreed. In April 2001 we modestly began the processof formulating our own theoretical model of practice, basedlargely on The Artful Dodgers Studio part of the Connexionsprogram run by Jesuit Social Services in Collingwood, Melbourne.

    As an experienced critical writer in the field, Martin contributedmuch of the modelling work in this publication, based onparticipatory research in the Studio, international literature


    SEPTEMBER 2002

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    The notion of ethics is tackled in two chapters of this publication.In Chapter 3 Sally focuses specifically on The Artful DodgersStudio and identifies areas of practice that are often hard to tacklein an ethical way, such as disengagement follow-up, supportinfrastructure for practice, artist practitioner supervision anddebriefing, and the management of participants narratives orstories. In Chapter 4 Martin undertakes some detailed modellingwork that explores five principles of ethical practice (the pentagonmodel) that can be applied to all community cultural developmentwork.

    The final chapter uses the pentagon model as a source foridentifying key areas to monitor in community culturaldevelopment practice. We believe that an effective communitycultural development evaluation model needs to be placed in acultural context that is, even social change needs to be explainedculturally. Martin developed the dynamic observation approachin response to a three-pronged evaluation model initiallysuggested by Deidre Williams, an arts and cultural developmentconsultant, during an online forum in August 2001. The dynamicobservation approach is specifically configured for a long-term,sustained engagement model of practice that works with highlymarginalised young people. It is still a theoretical model, however,and hasnt yet been used as a data collection tool in The ArtfulDodgers Studio.


    It is important to acknowledge the contributions of a number ofkey individuals who have contributed in no small way to thesuccess of this project either as Jesuit Social Services staffmembers, as stakeholders or as artist practitioners and industryrepresentatives.

    We would like to thank past and present Jesuit Social Services staff,specifically, the staff at Connexions.

    We would like to thank the following for their patronage,investment and support: Elizabeth Cham from PhilanthropyAustralia; Sandra Whitty and the Trustees of the William Buckland

    reviews and interaction with other community culturaldevelopment artists (many of whom contributed to Risking Art:Art for Survival). Sallys role has been both writer and custodianof much of the source material, ensuring that it was interpretedsensitively and appropriately. In developing her ideas she hasdrawn on her extensive network of community culturaldevelopment practitioners.

    The way we worked on this publication was different at differentstages. The theoretical model outlined in Chapter 1 was jointlywritten, initially for a paper presented at the 2nd InternationalConference on Cultural Policy Research in Wellington, NewZealand in January 2002. This chapter is the cornerstone of thepublication as it sets out the five stages of an Artful DodgersStudio participants engagement cycle.

    Sally wrote each of the three case studies collaboratively with theprofiled participants. As well as reflecting their personal point ofview, the case studies show our understanding of the engagementcycle by mapping the development trajectory of each of theparticipants. The accompanying images demonstrate theparticipants social development as well as their artistic development.

    The chapter on the working method of the artist practitioner is anattempt to formulate an overview of what is required for acommunity cultural development practitioner to build a solid andmutually beneficial foundation for work with a community.Although Martin helped to develop the model, it is primarilybased on Sallys practice in the Studio and draws on other projectsshe has worked on over the past twenty years.

    Throughout the process of putting this publication together we hadmany discussions about the need to explore ethics in communitycultural development. While the Queensland Community ArtsNetwork had dedicated an issue of Network News (edition 2, 1999)to a series of ethical dilemmas in community cultural development,we felt that their publication failed to articulate a sense of sharedvalues or principles. Martin undertook an extensive literaturereview on ethics in community cultural development and struggledto find a framework that could assist to identify and clarify ethicalparameters for artist practitioners.

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    MARTIN THIELE has worked as a cultural researcher in a numberof contexts and written extensively about the role of the arts insocial and cultural change. His work has been diverse in terms ofboth geography and context, from educational workshops forTiwi artists to a cultural plan for an African-Americanneighbourhood project in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to this heedited Dissolving Distance, a publication about the role of regionalgalleries in community development and has written aboutcommunity cultural development practice in articles for bothArtwork Magazine and ABC Online. In his spare time he hasmaintained research and production involvement in a series ofindependent film projects. In 2001 he was jointly awarded theNSW Premiers Award for his work as archival researcher on themulti-award-winning documentary Thomson of Arnhem Land.He has also researched a documentary series about activism inAustralia and is currently completing his Master of Social Scienceat RMIT University.

    SALLY MARSDEN was engaged to establish The Artful DodgersStudio at Connexions and is currently coordinating the program forJesuit Social Services. Before coming to Connexions, Sally was the Visual Arts Director of Somebodys Daughter Theatre. Shehas been an artist practitioner working in community culturaldevelopment since 1984. In partnership with Arts Access, Sally researched and wrote Healthy Arts, a guide to assistadministrators and artists to incorporate arts programs within thehealth sector. In 1995 she received an Australia Council Fellowshipin recognition of her commitment and contribution to communitycultural development. In 2000 she received the Ros Bower awardfrom the Community Cultural Development Board of the AustraliaCouncil for the Arts, for leadership in this field.

    Foundation; the staff and Board of the Community CulturalDevelopment Fund of the Australia Council, particularly BerniceGerrand, Andrew Donovan and Geoffrey Taylor; Susan Ball, RobMoodie and the Board of the Victorian Health PromotionFoundation; Ruth Whittingham and Nicole Beyer from ArtsAccess; Michael McLaughlin, Celina McEwen and Rick Flowersfrom the Centre for Popular Education, the University ofTechnology Sydney; and Julia Tymukas, Jane Gronow, the staffand Board of Community Arts Network, South Australia.

    The William Buckland Foundation, in particular, hasdemonstrated a long-term commitment to The Artful DodgersStudio over a five-year period. Two-year funding was providedinitially to establish the program and leverage other funding toensure its continuity. In addition, the Foundation has funded theRisking Art: Art for Survival publication and now this publication.

    Following the initial two-year period, funding was provided bythe Victorian Governments Department of Human Services,Mental Health Branch, and in 2002 they committed recurrentfunding to ensure the sustainability of the program.

    We would also like to acknowledge the kindness, generosity andintellectual investment of the following community culturaldevelopment artist practitioners and contributors, who eachcontributed their ideas and feedback at various stages in thedevelopment of this publication: Maud Clark, Maria Filippow,Carey Lai, Eve Stafford, Deidre Williams, Michael McLaughlin,Eamonn Scott, Jeff Stewart, Helen Zigmond, Ollie Black, KierstenCoulter and Judy Spokes.

    We would like to thank the young men and women, both past andpresent, who have participated in The Artful Dodgers Studio,especially the three participants who have spent dedicated hoursdeveloping their case studies. Pseudonyms have been given to thecase studies to protect the identity of the young people.

    All artwork within this publication has been used with permissionfrom the artist.

    About the authors

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    Over the past few years in Australia, the United Kingdom and theUnited States support for, and understanding of, the social impactof the arts has steadily grown.

    There is enormous variation in how artists engage withcommunities, their values and concerns. Many artists see their roleas social and cultural commentators and are drawn into a plethora ofenvironmental, humanitarian and social issues and causes.

    While some artists actively engage in dialogue with communitiesand work with them to find and express a collective voice, othersplay more the role of objective observer and critic. It is the formergroup that is the focus of this publication. In Australia, thisapproach is generally referred to as community culturaldevelopment practice.

    Community cultural development is a dynamic and variedpractice. Artist practitioners work with communities in verydifferent ways. Some work with participants for relatively shortperiods of time, while others work on a community culturaldevelopment initiative for years.

    Defining community cultural development In our use of the term community cultural development, weprefer a layered definition that sits within the parameters outlinedbelow. For the purpose of this publication, when we use the termartist practitioner we are specifically referring to artists who arealso specialists in community cultural development practice.

    For us, the word community is primarily about howindividuals perceive a sense of social connectedness.Communities can be understood both in terms of very real, clearlydefined bonds, such as extended family, geographical...