"Values that people have is the hidden spark - it unlocks something within people - their potential" Extract from Max Bailey and Rachel Parker - Walsall Council Creative Development Team
Introducing people to participatory arts as a tool for change is the primary concern of Walsall Creative Development Team (Walsall Council). Max who heads up the team and Rachel who is a principal officer, work with dozens of specialist freelance workers to open doors for people and organisations using participatory arts activities. The Team’s work is nationally recognised as a model of good practice when it comes to giving people a voice, highlighting opportunities and enriching communities.
"Commissioners see real value and quality in participatory video and media projects - in terms of the artistic & participatory process of engaging communities and groups - and in the end product - there's an element of sustainability there - with wider impact on audiences
Communication is vital - ongoing communication and clarity of roles
Often working around sensitive or health issues the artist needs to be supported and given development time to research the issues with themselves as well as with the group"
Community Arts isn’t about looking at pretty pictures. It’s not even necessarily about painting those pretty pictures. It’s about being in the picture....One of the hardest tasks for a local authority is getting people involved in day-to-day business in a productive, positive way. Working with local service providers and community groups, we creatively design projects that access hard to reach groups of people, and approach the most difficult of issues in fun, non-threatening ways.
"What happens when you get a really good project in the right way is you get a definite sense of atmosphere in the room from the participants (incl. the stakeholders and commissioners) - When people actually see the DVD - what it had was an incredible sense of humour, delivered in what I felt was broadcast quality standard and it actually took a difficult and sensitive subject matter and dealt with it in a very intelligent, creative and clever way - You could take a sideways glance at the participants and their parents who were watching and you could see their self esteem, the pride rising up in them and the commissioners going "That's more than I asked for." And for us, when we're managing projects if they all come out like that we've totally done our job perfectly." (About our film NOTES TO SELF)