Table Discussion Notes: Interactions, Liverpool. 19th September 2014 (collated discussion and thinking from all the participants in dialogue with and written up by Gillian Dyson)

How do the artists’ motivations and intentions inform /affect the impact of socially engaged performance practice?


  • What is the engagement?
  • Can be problematic …
  • About the more fascinating – seeing possibilities


  • Often those of other people (commissioner, patron, et al) can be imposed
  • Who is ‘in need’ of this art work?
  • The construct of ‘communities’ > based historically on ‘need’ around industry/ family/ geographic grouping
  • Financial imperative (earning a living) – exchange of our skills and knowledge
  • Reciprocity
  • Are we the artist/ makers the ones with ‘need? – you want to engage; recognise your past, understand who you are
  • Doing it for yourself
  • Well being – makes me feel ‘like I’m here’

What is engagement?

Why are there ‘subjects’ for the art project- and who are they?

How do you avoid ‘dilution”?

Do the artists and community objectives differ? – Managing expectations

Over time intentions (might) change – responsive, social, shared



  • How do participants get recruited?
  • Problems of ‘artist taking over’: need for good ground work – the organisation/ agent/ commissioner ‘holds’ the legacy.
  • Avoid artist’s ‘parachuting in’.
  • Questions around ‘targeted’ groups.
  • Put in the leg work – artist has to experience
  • Empowerment – artist and group
  • Importance of ‘liveness’ – to this process – in temporal and geographic shared space
  • The living/ embodied legacy

Key thoughts:

Be authentic – only then can work be meaningful for participants/ audience

This is about proposing different social structures  – social connectivity – challenge ‘loneliness (artist and community) – enables us (all) to get to know who I am/ we are.

Playing with overlapping frameworks  & infrastructures for socially engaged practice

Why are we here? –for change

How do we engage people? – through need

Who needs the work ?– artist and community (existent/ non existent)

How do we engage with art? – a process of social engagement – physical (live) connection

Product orientated art is less ‘engaging’

Process, liveness, located art = more socially engaging (for all parties)

It’s Ok for it to be a one off experience – legacy in the embodied, shared experience/ collective memory.


Image credits: Sarah Spanton

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