Insights and Inspiration from Explorative Research into the Impacts of a Community Arts Project [chapter]

Gwenda Van der Vaart
2021 Co-Creativity and Engaged Scholarship  
AbstractIn today's society, the resilience of communities is in the spotlight. How can communities shape and respond to the challenges they face in order to achieve a better future? For researchers focusing on this question, researching artistic practices can provide valuable insights and inspiration. From a resilience perspective that seeks to incorporate people's everyday lifeworld and local knowledge, community arts in particular hold much potential, being an art form that actively engages
more » ... ople in the creative process. Evidencing the impact of community arts projects has become more important over the years. However, as this chapter discusses, there are several tensions and concerns around evaluating the impact of the arts. The chapter takes as its empirical focus one such project in particular: the multi-year theatre-trilogy Grutte Pier, which took place in the Dutch village Kimswerd between 2014 and 2018. In this village, the site-specific theatre company PeerGrouP worked together with the inhabitants to create a trilogy around the village's historical figure Grutte Pier. The chapter reflects on an explorative research project into the impact of this community arts project on the village. Hereby, it contributes to the understanding of how meaningful change can be achieved in communities, preparing them for a more sustainable future. The reflections on the explorative research support the need to adopt a critical perspective with regard to assessing the value of artistic practices. The experiences in Kimswerd show that community arts projects can be an evocative way of engaging a community and can result in a variety of effects. The chapter discusses both personal effects, relating to personal growth, people's social life and feelings of pride, as well as effects at the village level, such as the creation and strengthening of bonds between the inhabitants. Effects are expected to go a long way and be a great boost for a community's organizational capacity and future activities. In light of these findings, it appears to be a successful formula to have artists coming to a community as 'outsiders', actively engaging inhabitants in a large community arts project that is both locally grounded and offers the inhabitants various ways of participating themselves.
doi:10.1007/978-3-030-84248-2_7 fatcat:w66k4nncajexdd6s6xblhum5jq