Recommendations & Next Steps
Community Arts Funding Framework 1.0 -
Towards an Aesthetic Approach to Community Development
I propose the first community arts funding framework explores programming through the lens of the five core aesthetic values:
Progress- The aesthetics of risk and reservation
Care- The aesthetics of personality and place
Communities- The aesthetics of cohesion
Relief- The aesthetics of art and need
Impact- The aesthetics of measurement
As such I outline a series of actions planned by the charity for its 400th anniversary year. These activities and strategies (inclusive of my own continued artistic practice) will serve as case studies to test and evolve this first version of the framework.
Disability Arts Fest
Carolyn's film project & installation
1. Commission: Dance piece for the 400th Anniversary
The charity will be experimenting for the first time with commissioning work through its grant program (as opposed to only responding to community submissions.) Building upon the free dance classes that are currently offered for older residents by professional dance company, Dance West, the charity has decided to commission a piece of dance to be performed for the 400th anniversary celebrations in summer 2018. Part of the funding will support the formalizing of a dance company for older people to perform this piece.
Through the lens of the core values, this programming will address the following questions:
What is the impact of a charity-led commission—how does their informed position contribute to an aesthetics of care in terms of expertise, process and eventual outcome? How does working in this way impact Dance west, the participants and the charity itself?
What is the impact of bringing older people from different communities across the borough together for a high profile event?
What kind of relief does a more intensive engagement with dance bring (with more frequent rehearsals and build to a public performance) as compared with the weekly classes?
Can the dance performance itself act as a form of measurement? If so, how is it captured for those (especially the grants committee) who may not witness the live event?
2. Anchor Funding
This year the grants committee will pilot a new program to support four anchor organisations that they have funded in the past and believe would benefit from consistent support.
“These groups provide key services or opportunities for local people. In most cases, they are the only organisation providing that type of service and, in most cases, fundraising is difficult and takes up significant organisational energy.
The grants committee believe that it would provide these groups with stability, an opportunity to focus more on development and potential leverage with other funders if we were to give them two-year funding agreements with an option to extend to three and a break clause after the first year if the committee has any serious causes of concern.” (Nock, 2017)
One of the four groups is White City Youth Theatre. The table below “sets out the justification for the selection…the proposed level of annual funding and the developments this approach might permit.” (ibid)
Through the lens of the core aesthetic values, this programming will address the following questions:
How does the impact of funding this arts activity compare across 4 completely different organisations (including debt advice, family services, and Somali community services).
How does longer term funding impact an aesthetics of care and how does it lend insight into longitudinal impact study (that is often lacking)?
Can the theatre performances act as a form of measurement? If so, how will this be experienced by those who cannot attend the live event?
3. Enigma Lunches
Following up from the successful communal lunch last April-where approximately 15 people across age, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds ate and shared favorite artworks together—this series will see a monthly lunch taking place in different community centres across the charity's area of benefit.
This programming will curate:
"Opportunities for different people locally to meet others whom they never normally encounter through intimate gatherings.
An encouragement to explore each other’s stories and experiences – mostly by conversation; sometimes through a shared enjoyment of a performance, exhibit or event; sometimes through a co-creation.
An awareness of different settings within the area of benefit including public spaces
Visual and aural documentation collated on the HUC website with invitations for people to comment or blog or otherwise reflect” (Nock, 2017)
Through the lens of the core aesthetic values this programming will address the following questions:
What comes about when different communities come together casually through food and art?
How can artistic documentation assess this value?
Could these casual , fun and potentially deeply connected meet-ups help curate leadership in the charity that is more representative of the area of benefit (in terms of staff and trustee recruitment)?
4. Disability Arts Fest
Numerous partnering organsations including Hammersmith United Charities (along with MenCap, The Lyric Hammersmith, Hammersmith and Fulham Arts Fest, Turtlekey Arts and Action on Disability) are collaborating on the first disability arts fest which will take place in June 2018.
This festival which will take place as part of the H&F Arts Fest will see a number of programs including performances, exhibitions, workshops and classes designed specifically to bridge communities of varying abilities.
Through the lens of the core aesthetic values it will address the following questions:
How does collaborative programming (across a number of arts and non-arts organisations) impact the strategy and reach of programming for different communities?
How does it contribute to the aesthetics of care?
How can the hyper local bridge the higher profile as events take place in a variety of spaces from Mencap to The Lyric? What impact does this have on community cohesion?
5. Carolyn's continued practice: film project & installation
Working with a professional filmmaker I will be creating a short film for the charity this autumn that explores the impact of the arts on a wide selection of local people across age, cultural and socio-economic background. Building on the notion that people light up in new and different ways when they describe and recount memorable arts experiences, this film will be shared with the charity to use in perpetuity.
The film will also continue an artistic research collaboration with Levitt Bernstein architects- who are working with the charity on a new intergenerational housing project. Using the film as a jumping off point, together we will explore the connections between engaging with art and engaging with homelife in an aesthetic way. This investigation will yield a large-scale installation for the 400th celebrations in summer 2018 that shares the film as well as experimental designs for the future housing scheme.
Through the lens of the core aesthetic values, this project will address the following questions:
How does a film contribute to new understandings of value and impact of the arts in communities?
How might a large-scale installation bring different communities together? Especially if they are key in the representation of the work?
How does a second collaboration between an artist and an architecture firm impact a housing development project?
How does a large-scale public event give voice to vulnerable communities (as compared to the small-scale event for the London Festival of Architecture.)
How does an artist/researcher in residence for 3 years impact the 5 aesthetic values? How does that amount of time and the outputs of evolving artistic projects contribute to notions of progress, care, communities, relief and impact?
Could it be valuable for the charity to maintain an artist in residence? Perhaps rotating new artists in for specified amounts of time?