A Brief Summary of the Framework on Levels of Engagement
Level 1: Audience/community as participants
This level begins from the artist’s conception of a project. The concept of the work originates entirely from the artist and has no bearing towards any community. The means of production however includes the contributions of members of the public who may have to interpret the artist’s concept and add to the artist’s work. From the artist’s viewpoint, the process and aesthetics of the work is open to public participation. From the participant’s viewpoint, he/she gets a chance to enter into the realm of art and ‘make a mark’.
Level 2: Community as volunteers and performers
This level involves the artist working specifically with a group/community as volunteers or performers. The concept of the work originates from the artist, but through focused sharing and intent, this concept and subsequent process of the work is explained and worked through with the community so that they can contribute to the process of the art-making and consequently its product.
Level 3: Collaboration and Co-development
This level begins with the artist approaching a community (and vice versa) with the intent of creating an art piece. The concept of the art piece is worked through with the community, normally facilitated by the artist. The concept can arise from what the community is interested in, exploring aspects of pedagogical learning (language expression, etc), personal development (esteem, confidence) or community development (collective expression). The concept can also include concerns of the community, taking the collective expression into the realm of advocacy as such. At this level, the artist must work with the community to determine the most appropriate form the art piece will take, based on what the community wants to do. Responsibility and overall co-ordination and aesthetics of the art piece is managed by the artist.
Level 4: Origination and Responsibility
This level suggests that the artist, over a sustained period of time, has worked with a community and handed over artistic skills and appreciation such that this community is able to articulate its own agenda and represent itself. One possible example is the theatre for seniors programme by TNS. Here, the artist is but a facilitator and supporter, and the reins of the artwork is, as far as possible, handed over to the community to work through. The community is hence empowered to develop and produce its own work and exist both on the social and aesthetics terrain as independent art-makers.
Adapted from Lacy S.(1995) Debated territory: A critical language for public art in Mapping The Terrain – New Genre Public Art, Lacy S. (ed), Baypress.