What is

Community Arts?

Defining, clarifying and reflecting on what we do is essential and something we do all the time at Valley and Vale Community Arts, to inform our practice and make sure we are offering the best process we can to everyone we have the privilege to work with. The Community Arts sector is a sector of change, a sector about change; we are transforming lives, and this dynamic means we need to be especially clear about what we are aiming to do.

Webster Med.; 1997; Finding Voices, Making Choices

Community Arts is a way of describing creative activities that bring people together in their communities and that give people the opportunity to gain new skills and new opportunities. Community Arts works to nurture the potential that exists in all communities to be creative and to find a voice to express their concerns through and using the Arts.

Community Arts is a term embracing all those activities which involve groups of people doing creative things together. What differentiates Community Arts, say, from amateur arts or the professional or commercial arts, is that:

  • It promotes participation, regardless of the existing level of skill or talent
  • It is undertaken by a group who either have the same collective identity, or a goal greater than the art form itself, or both
  • It is developed primarily to provide opportunities for people who through economic or social circumstance have little access to the means to participate in the Arts

CAF (Community Arts Forum)

Community Arts is a specific practice within a field of allied work, singularly concerned with the original collective creative expression of a community. The core values of Community Arts practice inform the development and delivery of training and education for that practice. Learning can take place in a range of ways; it should be undertaken by those who may think they don’t need it, and accessible to those who think they can’t aspire to it, to raise the quality and the impact of the work.

Article: The Pioneers and the Welsh Community Arts movement: a view from Wales

by Nick Clements

Community Arts was not born fully formed and armed, like Athene from the head of Zeus, neither was it invented by arts funders to place restrictions on artists. It grew gradually and stridently, through trial and error, through the efforts of artists and communities. This was an empirical movement: trying, testing, rejecting and adapting.

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