We think that as public artists we mustn’t simply assume what people need, we need to ask them. Consultation is a two way street; if people are being listened to they are much more likely to appreciate a creative response, and as socially engaged artists there is nothing more inspiring than a social problem that needs fixing.
We work a lot in our home town of Stoke-on-Trent, a city that is in the midst of urban regeneration and taking on new geographies and identities. This is happening areas all over the country and can be quite unsettling for their residents.
However, this is the perfect time for communities to have a say in their new social and infrastructural arrangements, to be a positive force in contemporary urban planning. Creative consultation can be an effective route into gathering interest and opinion.
CASE STUDY- Get Talking Creative Evaluation with the Creative Communities Unit
“The tools were complimentary to the artform being evaluated, creative and engaging, attracting the attention of the audiences. They clearly understand the importance of developing relationships with people, which are based on trust and open dialogue “.
– Nicola Gratton, Senior Lecturer and Researcher. Creative Communities Unit, Staffordshire University
In 2014 we partnered with Staffordshire University’s Creative Communities Unit, to support the evaluation of Appetite, a three year, Arts Council England funded programme in Stoke on Trent. We designed and delivered creative consultation tools to gather feedback at arts events in the public realm across the city which supported ‘Get Talking’, the Creative Communities Unit’s accredited Participatory Action Research methodology.
The tools proved very effective, not only as conversation starters, but as physical records of the consultation and participatory links to the events themselves.
This method is not confined to arts consultation alone, it can be used to gather feedback on any issue that affects the public, achieving qualitative data that can be used to analyse change from street level.