This publication aims to provide a platform for sharing research, findings, and experience, connected to, deriving from or directly addressing the central mission of the Create to Connect -> Create to Impact project: creating art in order to create impact in the society in terms of political change, innovation, empowerment and emancipation. With this publication we seek to conceptualize different approaches to understanding the social impact as guiding curatorial and artistic choices in the performing arts. We start from the hypothesis that different social contexts, production capacities and artistic credos invite and enable different approaches. For example, how is the practice shaped in the context of a small NGO with a local focus, and how when working for a state subsided national institution? How does the practice differ if you are targeting local, national, or international public? How do you experience the connection with the public in your home country and how when you act as a guest in the new social surrounding? What kind of social goals are you reaching to: social solidarity, gender equality, ecological justice, memory activism or something completely different? How is social impact understood by artists, producers and curators: do they think differently or alike? What happens when you are addressing people in the physical space with your bodily presence, and what when you act in virtual digital space? These are only some of the possible question with which we try to assess different approaches to understanding and practicing social impact in the performing arts.
While having the social impact as its central focus in mind, this publication will not ignore the all-encompassing social crisis in the present moment. Early 2020 humanity was given an exquisite chance to observe the revealing or deconstruction of the seemingly eternal normal now, manifested in the (near) collapse of health care systems, the increasingly toxic and polarised political and media discourses, incapacitated culture sectors, and a disdain for international, dare we say planetary, action. The pandemic exposed societal vulnerabilities, the importance of community, solidarity and care, whose end is implied in the misconstrued term “social distancing”, which attained new meanings particularly in the context of performing arts. In this, art and culture were hit by dwindling attendance or cancelation of events, hence financial issues, with little to no state support hardly matching that designed for large businesses. In fact, it was the very purpose of art – to make a statement, change, trigger thinking, or its social impact – that is at risk. Yet, artistic practices demonstrated a dynamic, inventive and resourceful response. The practitioners and institutions adapted and evolved in seeking to find new ways of existential survival, not only through adapting the processes of conceptualising, designing, implementing artistic practices, but also in terms of constructing new (digital and physical) spaces of encounter with the public, as well as finding effective means to attract and intrigue potentially weary or physically remote publics. In this context, theatre as a live form is best-suited laboratory to study social impact and audience responses, and “crisis management” in a time of crisis, such as the current pandemic.
This publication thus seeks to engage with the question of social impact of art in and beyond the context of the change or crisis. The overall approach combines anthropological research and experience, suggestions and ideas of artists, producers and curators to trace the changes in their practices and cultural politics, focused on creating social impact in the everchanging world. Therefore, different types of contributions are encouraged: research articles (c. 6000 words), reviews and essays (c. 3000 words), drawings, photographs, stories, poems, etc. Such scope will allow room for tracing the change in theatre and performing arts, and compare it to how in different locales and times, people have shaped and moulded art and artistic practices in order to invite a social change and envision contours of a different social world.
Do not feel limited by the items on the list of potential topics:
• Personal motivation for aiming for social impact
• Social impact as a process and not a one-project-related goal
• Stories of accomplishment and connection with the public
• Seeing the consequences of artistic practice in your immediate surrounding
• Dealing with frustration when impact is not visibly present and/or social change is not attainable
• Art in the time of uncertainty
• States of exception, art, care and solidarity
• Uncertainty and artistic practices
• Art and reconfigured audiences
• Adapting theatre/music/performance to digital media infrastructures
• Gig economy and online publics
• Thematising artistic practices through reviews (performances, concerts, etc.)
• Artistic pandemic interventions (poetry, poster, essay, short story, …)
• Assessing the possibilities for transnational mobility and cooperation of artists, researchers and cultural workers
• New opportunities for training and education for artists, cultural workers, researchers and others
• New collaborations between artists, researchers, cultural workers
• Transformed spaces and organisations
• Post-crisis life of performing arts (touring, adaptations, further development)
December 2020 – January 2021: Think about your idea. If you plan to submit a scientific article, an abstract of up to 500 words will be required. For all other forms, please send your ideas (200 words).
January 2021: Submit your proposal to: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
February 2021: Inform contributors and provide instructions for manuscript preparation
June 2021: First drafts completed
September 2021: Feedback to authors
November 2021: Submit the final version to publisher
June 2022: Volume published