Art for Development

• Development

• Arts for development
• Devised socio-political theatre – processes developed to create new work with people at ‘grassroots’ level, that question dominant narratives, unpick historical forces, present various perspectives, provide the basis for interaction with the subject through for example, a forum theatre event.
• Theatre for decision-makers – bringing unheard marginalised voices to decision-making centres: a model which directly engages key decision makers and has an accompanying set of communication strategies to engage wider population through mass and print media. This incorporates event, spectacle, and performance, with conference and workshop structures – so the familiar and the unfamiliar work together to create a more open space for dialogue across divides.
• Community arts clubs using arts process to reflect and transform the reality for specific target groups over a sustained period of time – meeting weekly over 2 years, for example. Clubs developed with high empowerment impact: using performance
• Training practitioners in facilitation, the use of drama and interactive methods – from other disciplines. For example: paralegals, who possess legal knowledge, are provided participatory drama-based practice to use for legal empowerment in prisons. (manual with modules developed and replicated/adapted for different country contexts)
• Participatory forms of engagement using workshops and performances to process conflict, root causes, dialogue and reconciliation, at community level – with specific target groups
• Integration of social research methods into community arts and activism programmes – for improved, localised monitoring, evaluation and development of practice. And integrating action oriented exercises into traditional research methods to gauge efficacy, sense of power, self, self-determination…etc…
• Group therapy processes for post-trauma situations, reconciliation, rehabilitation – developed training and materials, drawing upon drama therapy, narrative therapy, forum theatre exercises, drama-based practices.
• Theatre and communication for good governance, dialogue and human rights. Various approaches in different settings – for example building relations between local authorities and residents in post-conflict scenario in Zimbabwe.
• Street parades/ mass mobilisation events around positive artistic expression, these can have subversive, multi-voiced elements.


• Across and time, and the world….
Historical introduction to the central place of the arts and creativity in human development – including roots in Ancient Chinese, Greek, Arab, Italian and African philosophy (eg. Poesis, Aesthesis, word for narrative in different cultures etc.) and more recently how sociologists and psychologists use notions of performance and narrative to interpret human behaviour and educationalists have drawn on creative principles to create empowering learning pedagogies.
Egs from across the world of how storytelling, ritual, music, dance, poetry, painting

• Now:

The arts are employed in many development programmes and address – case studies of best practice outlined in detail in the toolkit, are summarised here.

(UNESCO quote) As Millennium Development Goals phase out and SDGs are brought in, culture is to be prioritised in development.

QUOTE: The value of culture in development as articulated by UNESCO and practitioners in Africa/Asia

• Key aspects of creative practice and the arts. EG:
• Pleasurable
• Immersive
• Kinaesthetic
• Sensory
• Reflection and rehearsal for reality
• Experiential
• Collective
• Affirming and energising
• Transformative

Quote demonstrating: The value of Creative thinking, creative practice to individual social change. The power of story, metaphore, imagination, fiction and poetry to communicate to people at deep emotional levels is harnessed to generate best practice and genuinely transformative encounters.

• Multiple ways the arts can be used in development context:

• For communication – getting information out, providing dialogic communication
• For socio-political engagement: advocacy, activism, or protest
• For reflection, reconciliation and co-existence
• For capacity building of individuals (like skills) or
• To communicate a particular message in a culturally appropriate way
• To facilitate ‘ways of seeing’ and deepen understanding of a situation, a person, an issue
• To provide therapeutic one off event to long term integrated process.

There are many purposes: individual change, behaviour change, social change, protest, etc. foundational to all effective and meaningful use of the arts, is discovery.

• For peace building or conflict resolution

– in categorising arts activity according the kind of direct use and impact it may have, it’s useful to breakdown the value and functions of the arts further, thinking separately about the experience in the moment, and the result afterwards, including:

• Prevention
• Empowerment
• Cathartic and healing processes
• Communicating information that might be otherwise esoteric, hard to understand or out of reach.
• Building understanding across divides (further describes 2)
• Providing platform for unheard voices or perspectives
• Unpicking complex reality – through immersion and creating a wide view.
• Rehearsing for reality – strategy – and structuring solutions in people’s experience.
• Envisioning and creating new lived reality
(Not exhaustive)

• The false distinction between ‘Arts for Arts Sake’ and Arts for Development

Defining the agenda of Arts activity to guide programming, is useful. This work often differentiates between firstly, arts for development – which includes both process and product – and that that which is often described as ‘art for art’s sake.’ The latter is often described as artists working independently, from conscience, will, desire or social awareness. This is rarely true – it’s just that the inspiration might be truth, beauty, escape or silliness rather than a specifically development-oriented one.

Outline where artistic product, performances, writing etc. would fall into non-social-development category – would works would likely be paid for, showcased, sold through existing channels or platforms. Eg. Theatre performed in a theatre for a paying public.

A community theatre event by people from a specific community, created as a result of a programme, fund or a burning issue would fall into the first category.

Both ‘types’ are motivated by artistic voice. This toolkit will differentiate between ‘best practice’ in all areas – which if applied for development, or another purpose, should create a profound experience.

• Broad types of Arts for Action

More useful distinctions for this work that is:
• For the people
• With the people
• By the people

People can mean target audience, beneficiary, population etc.
• ‘For’ would most likely involve a work created with ‘the people’ or target group in mind, and it is present from the outside. (Provide examples) Outsider-insider can be beneficial in many ways.
• ‘With’ would involve an interactive co-creative process where initiator/s jointly create something with the target groups. (Provide examples)
• ‘By’ would refer to work initiated, created and experienced by the target group.

These are loose definitions that can be further defined. But are helpful in terms of message/issue engagement. Outside/inside dynamics are a useful analytical tool – and exist at all levels of engagement. Eg. Outside inside: The self, the family, the relationship, the community, the organisation initiating a project, the country, the countries involved in a conflict.
• The change impact of arts for action.

Engagement with a creative process facilitates change on a number of levels:
DIAGRAM PROVIDING VISUAL outline of the science of change through artistic engagement.
(ADAPTED FROM JOHNS HOPKINS CENTRE Model for theory of change – visualising dynamics and levels)
The arts provides a lense and a mechanism through which we can process the world, understand issues more clearly. But most crucially, arts experiences are able to create interactive learning – discovery.
Outline the components in an individual and social change process, within development framework, that arts processes and products can effectively contribute towards achieving.
• Vague awareness (flashing light – look at this -) eg. Billboard, poster, jingle, Appears in the periphery of consciousness
• Cognitive
• Emotional
• Relational
• Enabling environment
• Societal
• National: eg. legislative framework
• International – awareness, global movements, international network
• Arts for change affecting real lives

List various ways the arts have been used for change in multiple settings – providing brief examples:
• Development of life skills for youth
• Protest against injustice as in Apartheid era in South Africa– song, traditional dance and theatre played a crucial role in bringing about change
• Films for human rights which are so established now there are festivals for this specific genre of film
• Street art for democratisation
• Prisons: rehabilitation
• People with disability
• Marginalised, disenfranchised people
• Theatre for climate change awareness
• Foundational to good practice are creative principles:

EG: Safety, freedom for expression to be fully realised, authenticity,

• Key stages in the process:


Movement of people for Malawi


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