What is the future for presentational arts in a participatory world?

Humanities Research Institute, Upper Hanover Street, Sheffield, S3 7QY
11:30 am - 20th September, 2018

This is a University of Sheffield event facilitated by Sheffield Creative Guild.

The cultural policy climate has changed radically over the past few years. Projects such as Creative People and Places, 64 Million Artists, and Fun Palaces have placed participatory arts at the foreground of practice. These initiatives have been celebrated by some as examples of a more democratic approach to arts management and funding. Since arts audiences are often comprised of the wealthiest, highly-education and least ethnically diverse of the UK population, recognising the everyday creativity that takes place in the lives of much of the rest of the population, and supporting participatory arts, community arts, and grassroots arts, could offer a means of addressing this inequality.

However, many questions emerge from this new state of the arts: most centrally, how should the professional, presentational arts sector respond to these developments? Should they adapt or die? Or is there a place for both to co-exist and what could that art eco-system look like? What are the responsibilities of researchers and practitioners working in presentational and participatory arts to ensure an effective and sustainable future? Who should be making these decisions: what effects does the location of power and funding have on the lives of the 92%? Are amateur/professional, audience/performer, presentational/participatory still meaningful dualities? What is our role (whoever ‘we’ are) and how can we fulfil it responsibly and to best effect?

Our research on the ‘Understanding Audiences for the Contemporary Arts’ project has led us into the minefield that is ethical, diverse, engaging research about arts practices in contemporary society. As we enter the second year of our project, we’d like to face up to those challenges and to provide an open space for discussion of the questions that matter to today’s artists, audiences and academics.

What’s an Open Space?

No keynotes, no Q&As, no powerpoint

Think of it like the coffee breaks at a conference: Open Space is a place for fluid conversations around a central topic. Participants set the agenda at the start of the session by putting forward questions they would like to discuss. The rest of the afternoon consists of small group discussions around these questions, governed by four principles and ‘the law of two feet’:

  1. Whoever come are the right people.
  2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
  3. Whenever it starts is the right time.
  4. When it’s over, it’s over.

The law of two feet: If you find yourself in a situation where you are neither learning or contributing, move somewhere where you can.

Facilitated by Jane Shields, Sheffield Creative Guild

Visual minutes by Beka Haigh


11:30 Arrival

12:00 Lunch

13:00 Open space

17:30 Close

...then pub for anyone who can join us!

Visit website Start time: 11:30 am - 20th September, 2018 End time: 5:30 pm - 20th September, 2018 Posted on 18th September, 2018