Friday, June 24, 2011

PRAGMATIC: Participation; The Grand Rapids LipDub

Ian Moss put out a call on behalf of WolfBrown (who must read Createquity... and therefore may have read my analysis of their Search for Shining Eyes report...), who are looking for examples of participation:
I’m writing to you ask if you might be willing to recommend any excellent, new or unusual examples of “active arts participation” programs offered by nonprofit arts groups (any discipline).

WolfBrown has been commissioned by The James Irvine Foundation to prepare a white paper on active participation, planned for release later this summer. In this case, “active” means that the participant is involved to some extent in creative expression (i.e., creating or performing). We’ve been asked to focus on participatory arts experiences for adults, not so much on arts education programs (e.g., lessons and classes) or audience engagement activities such as lectures and workshops.

Our research has uncovered many artists and arts groups who’ve been active in this area for years, but we’re looking for new and interesting examples, particularly involving arts groups for whom “active participation” has not been a priority, historically. We’re also interested in identifying artists who are creating new work that engages audience members in some form of active expression.

Any suggestions, leads or links would be most appreciated.
From their description, it sounds like they're not looking for this:

See, that work was done by a small company that doesn't appear to be a non-profit called Status Creative. And they don't have a history of non-participatory work. In fact, they don't have a history -- this is their first creation as an entity.

And yet, I don't know if I've ever seen a single thing an established non-profit looking to branch out into "participatory" realms (I'm actually having a hard time thinking of any examples).

But the video seems to invite everyone to participate, across a pretty surprising slice of population and demographics, using each person according to their talents and interests (e.g. football players playing football, firefighters parading, etc.), in a context that lets them express their voice (as a unified response to this article placing them on a list of "dying cities") in a way that gets heard (here's MainSt's response, and Newsweek's).

To me, that's basically a gold standard moment of participation... of course, it's not an ongoing project, but hey, art is ephemeral. And if WolfBrown isn't focused on that kind of participatory arts event, at the very least I'd love to see them compare how the non-profit organizations' work compares to this sort of grassroots participation.