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2018 December 03

Precarity in socially engaged arts practice

A Balancing Act

On Friday 16th of November around 30 creative practitioners who describe themselves as socially-engaged got together at the Kinning Park Complex to discuss precarity in socially-engaged arts practice.

This event emerged out of discussions between a small group of artists meeting at the Kinning Park Complex over a bowl of soup to mull over issues, challenges and questions we found ourselves faced with. We discussed how we define and describe our practice, lack of value for socially engaged practice, burnout, the difficulty in earning an income, how we attempt to resist being coerced into artwashing, ways of collaborating across project and building solidarity between groups, how we can critically reflect on what we do and where is the room for failure.

Precarity was an issue that touched on lots of the topics we were discussing. In practical terms it related to unpredictable income, no security, often being invisible and also the way in which we practice – balancing different interests, agendas, expectations. Artists Janie Nicoll, Ailie Rutherford and Katharine Wheeler were invited to reflect on precarity in their own practice, in the field of socially-engaged art and more broadly in the communities which artists interact with. Janie and Ailie spoke about their project In Kind and Katharine spoke about her work with the Stove in Dumfries.

Funding from Axisweb Social Works? programme came along at the right time to have an event which brought more people into the conversation and have a focused discussion on one particular theme and ask how we respond to these issues and what action is needed.







As part of the event Josie Vallely created a zine to document some of the discussion but also to provide provocations, inspiration and resources. You can download the zine here Precarity in social art zine

The hope is that the conversation can continue and momentum from this event will stimulate further get togethers and collective action.