Social Making - A Socially Engaged Practice Symposium in Plymouth (7th & 8th June 2018)

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This month we interviewed Kim Wide, the Director of Take A Part CIC - A Socially Engaged Art Organisation in Plymouth. Kim tells us about Take A Part CIC and their forthcoming Social Making symposium in Plymouth.

Can you tell us about Take A Part?

Take A Part CIC is a socially engaged arts organisation based in Plymouth with international reach.  We are focused on long-term, embedded community based practice in communities of geography that do not normally engaged in arts and culture.  By taking a grass roots approach to engagement, we can have deep and honest dialogues with places and encourage shared learning.  Our model of co-commissioning and co-creation creates a deep sense of ownership, understanding and buy in.  Take A Part CIC has been working with audiences to engage them in contemporary art and heritage since 2006. 

How did the idea of the symposium Social Making: Socially Engaged Art Now and Next come about?

When Take A Part started, the idea of socially engaged art was quite new to the South West region.  It was seen by the wider arts world as community arts and as a result there were sentiments around quality and value of the practice.  We at Take A Part knew that good process and engagement with great artists always creates amazing outcomes and we wanted to shine a light on the sector and give it the value it deserves.  We wanted to inspire artists, academics, councillors and policy makers to really see the importance of this sector of work and to consider utilising and exploring it more within their own sectors.

Social Making is also about shining a light on Plymouth and the huge advances in arts and cultural activity that have taken place over the last 10 years in the city.  It is about establishing the city as a centre for risk-taking and innovative approaches to collaborative commissioning.  By bringing in various models of working to showcase, Social Making can inspire the city to consider varied methods of engagement and social practice and allow us as a city to test various models.

Social Making is the UK’s only biennial symposium dedicated to Socially Engaged Practice.

Why do you think it’s particularly important to be having these conversations in the South West?

The South West is the largest and most rural of the UK’s cultural regions.  It needs support to come together and to network. Knowing there are experts in the region and case studies and experiences that can be shared can support other artists and organisations to reach out try something new themselves. 

It also needs to bring in international practice to inspire and set benchmarks around possibilities that we normally have to travel out of region to get.  We need to get inspired together so we can risk-take as a region!

Why should we attend? What should we expect? 

The focus of this iteration of Social Making is on diversity and identity in commissioning with a focus on feminism, race, LGBTQ+ and economics.  We chose this as our focus as Plymouth is preparing to take part in Mayflower 400, a commemoration of the Pilgrim journey to the New World taking place in 2020.  We wanted to bring to the city a wide range of projects and artists working with diverse audiences and narratives to inspire the city and region to consider how we include alternative narratives in wider stories and to not shy away from the thorny aspects of this celebration.

Speakers include Rommi Smith, Darren Henley, Dreadnought, Tom Marshman, Accumulate, Frei Von Fraahsen and Michael Fortune.  We will be holding exhibitions by Plymouth based artists working in the social sphere and also will be holding a SOUP event, a model of crowdfunded support for 3 artists to create new work in the city.

You should attend if you want to see a wide range of international artists and projects from cross-art forms responding to the key theme of identity. As diversity is the theme, this is a wonderful opportunity for professional development and to consider how we all work a little harder to include and support the telling of many identities in our work. This is also an excellent opportunity for networking and visiting Plymouth.  The varied and really homegrown arts scene it has to offer is truly rich.  Be sure to check out all the great music in the city too! 

Is there a current exhibition in the Plymouth area on at the moment you would particularly recommend?

Rosie Wylie is showing work about hearing about the Mayflower voyage as a child at Plymouth Art Centre and Plymouth College of Art.  It is really evocative and very lightly political and looks at how histories can change over time.  It is the perfect match for Social Making!  Get there quick though as it closes May 30th. https://plymouthartscentre.org/whats-on/history-painting-rose-wylie/

For more on Take A Part visit:http://www.effordtakeapart.org.uk/

For more on the Social Making symposium visit: http://www.effordtakeapart.org.uk/social-making/