International Journal of Art & Design Education

The Recuperation of Participatory Arts Practices

Volume 30.1   2011



Creative participation in the arts is a complex and abstract concept that bridges the gap between cultural production and its consumption. It is highly contextual and defined through a range of discourses besides aesthetics that concern access and inclusion, cultural identity, socio-political rights, collective working, transformation and emancipation as advocated by community arts philosophy and praxis. These ideas are theoretically explored and critically evaluated in practice through three popular visual arts events in which the general public engaged and performed, demonstrating varying degrees of active involvement and dialogue. They also highlight the recuperation of radical cultural activism and communality where participation has become associated with spectacle and the co-option of self-determined thinking and resistance. Such cases are of obvious interest to community arts educators, particularly their value, the terms of participatory engagement and the extent to which radical non-authoritarian and collective practices have been appropriated by cults of individuality and celebrity.