Quality and Community Engagement
What constitutes ‘quality’ in cross-arts and cross-sector projects within different community contexts? Collaborative partners often don’t share the same definitions of quality and have different expectations about the outcomes of projects. The aim of this research was to analyse what is the meaning of ‘quality’ in the context of community engagement and how this is perceived by the partners. Through in-depth interviews with experienced leaders and practitioners, teachers and participants and mini case-studies, criteria for assessing ‘quality’ in cross-arts and cross-sector contexts were analysed. The focus of the analysis was on different levels: project, process and product/performance of a collaboration. The objective was to create a conceptual framework for assessing quality in various contexts.
Researcher: Peter Renshaw
The results of this research project were published in 2010:
Engaged Passions: Searches for Quality in Community Contexts, Peter Renshaw. Eburon Academic Publisher, Delft (May, 27 2010).
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About the publication
For over 30 years arts practitioners of all kinds have been working in partnership with schools and different organisations in the wider community. Questions are now increasingly being asked about the quality of learning and engagement, arising from this work. To what extent are performing and visual artists addressing the challenges, connected to social, cultural, artistic and technological change? To which extent are they responding effectively and creatively to the continually evolving cultural, social and educational landscape? And to which extent are these changes reflected in their learning and development?
What constitutes quality?
The aim of this enquiry was to examine what constitutes ‘quality’ in the context of arts practitioners engaged in different kinds of collaborations within the community. The people interviewed included experienced arts, education and community leaders. They work in a diversity of contexts, ranging from schools, conservatoires and universities to neighbourhood venues, concert halls, music centres, orchestras, youth opera, prisons, dementia care, music therapy, music and disability.
The collection and collation of data was drawn from three sources:
- 16 in-depth interviews conducted with artists, educationalists, managers and project co-ordinators from the Netherlands, UK and Germany.
- 14 case studies from The Netherlands, UK, Brazil, Sweden and Austria. These provide a narrative that illustrates the context and work of the interviewees.
- 14 personal testimonies from the Netherlands, UK, Brazil and Sweden. These describe the personal responses of the interviewees to the challenges of facilitating quality in their work. They raise fundamental questions connected to personal motivation, commitment, values, attitudes, vision and quality of engagement.
The major findings and outcomes include the following themes:
- Implications of change on arts organisations and Higher Arts Education.
- Passions and individual perspectives – source of motivation of the participants in the enquiry; commitment to ‘people’ as well as to ‘art’.
- Factors necessary for developing effective partnerships – the place of connections, context and conversations.
- Quality of projects – aims, quality of arts practitioners, process and end-product.
- The impact of community engagement on the learning and development of arts practitioners, on reflective learning, evaluation and assessment, and on cultural change in arts organisations.