What does a fully collaborative, participatory project look like in practice?
Along with Heather Barnett of MA Art & Science, and Georgia Jacobs, local engagement officer, both at CSM, we initiated Graduates in the Making; a UAL Teaching & Learning funded programme to offer a cohort of students the opportunity to understand real-world, participatory practice through a programme of talks, workshops and student-led facilitation.
The final year BA students and postgrad students across different disciplines were taken through a 6 week programme designed to accelerate their understanding of their own practice, how projects are developed alongside strategic partners, the art of facilitating workshops and the creative outputs of public practice, for example interventions vs invitations. Students were given talks by Somers Town Community Association, Camden Council, All Change Arts, Harun Morrison and Prof. Adam Thorpe of CSM’s Public Collaboration Lab. These insights into public practice gave the students tangible concepts such as building capacity, urgency for change and personal and professional ethics in practice.
I considered myself fortunate to be able to facilitate the sessions and continue my own development by hearing such progressive and experienced professionals talk candidly about projects that resonate and provide value in the public realm. It reminded me that participatory practice is not a fixed model and it requires active communication skills at every stage of the project. It also taught me how diverse, resilient and determined the students are to use their creative knowledge skills and practice to change the world for the better.