1. james

    Dreadfully outrageous. However – are we talking community or community arts or both or something else. I don’t disagree in many respects – but are these views not distributed through a community…? Community starts to mean something when you depend on it i guess – like oxygen.

    Muriel Gray referred to community art as crap art years ago back on some programme or other – you are in good company…. maybe

  2. The Biting Back conference thing was interesting yesterday for the language/jargon/shorthand that was used. Made me think it’d be interesting to see see how those kinds of phrases rise and fall over time and find out who influences them – we could do with a Google Ngram Viewer for arts & culture discourse.

  3. charlie

    hmm. is this supposed to provoke a reaction? because it’s not really coherent enough for that, is it?

  4. Naomi

    In response to your somewhat appalling post I would like to introduce myself.
    I just finished a degree in 2010 from Birmingham School of Acting this year in Community and Applied Theatre. Having finished my degree I am now working on projects using theatre in education and community theatre.
    I agree that the word ‘community’ is banded about a lot in our society and especially by the government in recent times. I would however like to support community arts to the full.
    Community Arts are available to communities all around Birmingham and England so that those from disadvantaged backgrounds have access to culture, creativity and opportunity. Community arts are used everyday to raise confidence, give a forum for opinions, allow these voices who are often forgotten to be heard and to open up future opportunities.
    These groups, unlike you I am sure, are not able to nip to the theatre on the weekend, therefore Community Theatre and Arts practitioners allow this to still be available to them and are in place to raise the funding required for communities who wish to access these arts.
    I would invite you to any one of my community projects for you to sit back and watch and tell me my projects are dull and worthless and I would ask you to sit with the participants of my projects and talk to them about their experiences and you will find quite the opposite answers to your truely unfair and un-factual article.

  5. Ha ha ha! Mockney thuggery;) But you’re right Chris – be great to map the wordology. For instance, compare the straight-talking way the Arts Council spoke in 1966; the year I was born:

    “The major purpose for which we must use our money is to cultivate new audiences for the arts; it must not be done by means of a confidence trick… It is very necessary, if we are to be a civilised and cultivated nation, that we teach people the worthwhile things in life” (Lord Goodman, chair, Annual Report of 1966)

    and here’s today’s quangospeak:
    “We’ve worked with our funded organisations to introduce new ways to measure
    how effective we are at working together as a sector, leading to the recruitment of 150 artistic assessors and a new self-evaluation framework for arts organisations.” (Alan Davey, Chief Exec, Annual Review 2010)

    Perhaps Danny could write next year’s report? – I’m up for proofreading :)

  6. I love ‘community’, even if word is a bit tired and been used to cover a load of not so very community stuff. Ten years ago I wrote a fair bit about Community Art, Art therapy, Public Art, precisely because I didn’t want to be some arse admiring my own naval, selling meaningless dross to rich folk. I guess there’s a fair bit between the extremes of ‘community’ art and ‘high’ art, but if it’s a straight choice, take me to the bingo.

    It’s true, I feel more at home in an old community centre than an elitist institution of ‘high’ art. I guess whatever art you dig is fine, but community art isn’t about art by committee – It’s about discussing issues (using art) with people beyond your bedroom window. I agree, mostly it hangs around for longer than it should, and is probably meaningless to you (and anyone else who didn’t make it). But that’s because you’re too old to be playing table tennis at the youth club. You, your gang/unit/community/ group probably has no problems finding a wall to draw on.

  7. I agree entirely with the bits that mades sense – not much of it unfortunately – can you try and write something whilst sober occassionally, Danny? Probably not. Anyway, art done with people doesn’t have to be dumbed down or reduced in production values – people ain’t stupid, though often a change of language and approach has to be considered. But polarised and reductive ‘arguments’ like in Danny’s post are always welcome to kick off debate. Makes a change for those of us out here working in the real world not to be ignored. I fucking hate the community,too, but I love people!

  8. I take it back – don’t stop writing drunk, there’s actually people talking here now – I owe you a pint for getting some debate going.

  9. Hello, my name is Danny Smith and I did indeed write the, in parts I agree, incoherent diatribe above and I suppose I owe it too a few people to clarify my views somewhat.

    The main thing I hate, if I hate anything, is the word itself, community. In fact the title, was supposed to be ‘The ‘C’ Word’ although, thinking about it, that probably wouldn’t have shifted the focus. That word is used to hide a lot of terrible ideas, flawed funding streams, and shifts of responsibility to the groups of people councils should be helping (see. Big Society).

    *Of course* I’m not against networks of people that support and interact with each other. I do think its a bad idea to try and force these networks or presume they exist instead of actually seeking out and helping the ones that already exist.

    I do, however, think a lot of community art is rubbish, but that’s fine because I think a lot of other established ‘mainstream’ art is also rubbish. Making the distinction between the two is actually patronising to the former.

    To be honest the post was more of a writing exercise, I wanted to hit a certain tone, a style that I sometimes flirt with. I sent it to Chris and Ian honestly thinking that it wouldn’t get posted and if it did it would make a change from the very neutral, balanced pieces the call for submissions would almost certainly attract.

    I am not however trying to retract anything I wrote or even apologise for it, merely clarify.

  10. I think it was all right. Syntax and grammatical errors all over the shop, but the tone pretty much dominated. Some good blood being smeared. You should write another; it’ll help you clarify.

  11. Danny – yeah; keep it flowing. As David says; write another. Keep your gentle pen for the public; coax ’em, cajole and cuddle. Treat peers like sucker mc’s. David, I just RSS’d your blog – best thing I’ve read in months. And Lee – how you doin’ chap? Too long.

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