This paper will introduce the position of the artist’s role within the Northern Ireland context and discuss approaches in artist-led research and practice in communities where there have been issues with cohesion and conflict. Discussion will focus particularly on instances where those artists’ practices have sought to engage people in direct discourse with their communities past. The objectives of such approaches are grounded in the assumption that reflecting on the past will inform the present and impact upon future behaviours. Such assumptions inform much of the current cultural policy and debate within the United Kingdom; however, this paper will argue that the complexities of “communities,” which may have perceived commonalties, may require a framework of engagement informed by a service design thinking approach. A case study will be presented of such a framework of engagement with post-primary children investigating issues of identity and cultural markers. The concluding comments will discuss the challenges surrounding inter-generational perceptions and beliefs and the importance of understanding value systems. It is argued that these factors will greatly impact upon the future shape of processes of creative engagement within communities if they are to truly become effective mechanisms and catalysts for social, and in turn, cultural change.
|Keywords:||Community Engagement, Service Design Thinking,, Culture, History, Conflict, Social Impact of the Arts|
Associate Lecturer in Art & Design, School of Art & Design, University of Ulster, Belfast, Antrim, UK