Bath Spa University commissioned us to run a creative community engagement workshop for their Fine Art first year students this April. Our aim was to inspire students to consider alternative ways of working and give them the confidence to involve people in their creative process.
We shared some of our projects through our short films and project plans, discussed our tried-and-tested community engagement methodologies and invited the students to share their practice and interest in socially-engaged art through making physical connections across the room in an interactive exercise. We went on to highlight inspiring case studies of other artists and architects successfully working with communities, and spoke about the common pitfalls and challenges to watch out for. The students came up with some inspiring ideas in response to the task of designing and writing their own socially-engaged workshop plan and considered effective methods of documentation, monitoring and evaluation.
The students became visibly more confident throughout the half day session, and spoke about the benefits of learning about each other’s practices and interests, hearing about new opportunities and the benefits of working in a social context. We were pleased to receive the following fantastic feedback from the students:
“[It was] useful to learn how art can combine with communities and businesses to get the public involved and make change. I’m starting to think about how I can involve others in my own work.”
“[The workshop] opened my mind to different opportunities and ideas and helped me extend my practice.”
“Great, interactive workshop; useful information on opportunities; improving on social skills, to get people [the students] talking about their work. Even the workshop was a community event in itself.”
“It’s really opened my mind about how we can use art to interact and involve communities of all ages. Best part was thinking of workshops for a variety of things. Thought it was very helpful.”
“I learnt how to get completely involved with communities and engage them further.”
“I learnt how to set up and run community projects.”
“I learnt I had more interest with others’ art than I thought.” [on the ‘Making Connections’ exercise between the students]
You can find out more about the student’s work on their blog here.