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Title: A model and theory of community-based arts and health practice
Author: Raw, Anni Eleanor
ISNI:       0000 0004 2744 5683
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis is an ethnographic study of the dynamic world of a hidden arts and health practice. Throughout the UK, and internationally, artists are engaged to work collaboratively with community groups, in creative initiatives seeking positive outcomes for participants’ health and wellbeing. Their practice is informal in character, with no unified identity or agreed parameters; instead responsive individuality in methods, manifest in the idiosyncratic creative voices of practitioners, is much celebrated. However elusive, improvised or plan-resistant the mechanisms behind the work, such projects continue to be resourced, constituting a paradoxically unregulated phenomenon in a customarily risk-averse health and care context. Investigating the inner workings of expert participatory arts practitioners’ methods, the thesis asks whether shared elements can be identified, forming a coherent model that characterises and unifies this work. Noting the value of exploring two entirely discreet settings, with field sites across Northern England as well as across Mexico City, I use international comparison to investigate whether the practice furthermore displays commonalities that transcend national contextual differences. Despite significant diversity in settings and art forms, and in practitioners’ backgrounds, the study finds recurrent commonalities in the methodologies engaged. The thesis articulates these findings as a coherent practice model, comprising elements recognisable amongst all practitioners in the study. Observing shared characteristics in practitioners’ intuitive strategies for catalysing change, through the use of generic creative mechanisms including subversive playfulness, risk, and suspension of disbelief, I theorise the practice model using an anthropological lens of secular ritual. Artists’ processes suggest they open up ‘liminal’ spaces in which participants can rehearse fresh ways of being themselves, and engage in transformative reflection on their everyday realities. This discovery of a breadth of practitioners, whose intuitive practice transcends boundaries in artform, context and national identity, is discussed here as an emergent, ‘cosmopolitan’ community of practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available