International perspectives on participation and engagement in the arts (CfP, Conference, Netherlands, 20-21 June 2014)

International perspectives on participation and engagement in the arts
20th-21st June 2014
Utrecht University, Netherlands

  • Networking between academics, policy makers and arts practitioners
  • Transfer of best practices in participatory arts and participatory decision-making in cultural policy
  • Policy transfer between different countries, municipalities and public service sectors
  • International speakers for comparative analysis

Since the 1980s there has been a growing international focus on participation in public policy, whether as a means to compensate for diminishing state investment or to give voice to grassroots activism. This has led to an increasing discourse about models of participatory practice, the values that underpin these, and their social and political impact, in the worlds of the arts and cultural activities no less than in other sectors.

For the last two years Leeds Metropolitan University, with the support of Arts Council England and the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), have been coordinating a knowledge exchange network, bringing together academics, policy makers and practitioners to share research and debate issues, on participation and engagement in the arts. In the Netherlands similar activities have been carried out since 2009 by the national expertise centres for arts education and amateur arts, recently merged into the National Centre of Expertise for Cultural Education and Amateur Arts (LKCA), and by the Cultural Participation Fund.

This conference is the culmination of this work, and aims to draw together current research and practice internationally to assess: firstly, the relevance of the participation and engagement agenda for professional arts and cultural heritage organisations, voluntary arts organisations, and policy makers at local and national level; secondly, which theoretical and political assumptions underpin this agenda and its implementation; thirdly, which models of participatory arts practices have been developed and have proved to be successful.

This call for papers invites academics, policy analysts, practitioners and policy makers from the arts, cultural heritage and community sectors to submit abstracts for consideration around any of the following sub themes:

  • Case studies of participatory practice or policy in the arts and cultural heritage field: professional and amateur/voluntary;
  • Theoretical debates around definitions and ideologies of participation.
  • Trends and patterns in participation and engagement in the arts: presentation and discussion. of research and research-informed evaluations.
  • Comparative analysis of international policy.
  • Issues of policy transfer issues to other areas of public policy.
  • How to promote and improve the exchange and utilisation of knowledge amongst practitioners, policy makers, researchers and consultants.

The focus of the conference is on research, evaluation and evidence-informed reflection. We welcome papers based on qualitative action research and participant observation, as well as theoretical studies, policy analysis, evaluation research and statistical analysis of survey data. We also welcome proposals on issues of policy transfer and knowledge utilisation, and critical discussions of research findings and of their implications for practice and policy.

Researchers, marketing and policy consultants, practitioners and policy officials are invited to submit an abstract for a paper presentation or a proposal for a special session. A limited number of session proposals will be selected. The selection of paper presentations and sessions will be announced by end of February 2014.

Please submit an abstract of no more than 500 words describing your proposed paper and/or the session you would like to organise, along with a bio of no more than 100 words. All abstracts and enquiries should be sent by email no later than 6th January 2014. The conference is organised by Leeds Metropolitan University in co-operation with the National Centre of Expertise for Cultural Education and Amateur Arts (LKCA) and the Cultural Participation Fund in the Netherlands.


About anniRaw

Anni is a post-doctoral research associate with the School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University, and Visiting Research Fellow at University of Leeds, School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies. Her doctoral thesis ( ) characterises and theorises a core practice amongst artists working in community and participatory arts. The study incorporates an exploration of artists’ current practice in the UK and in Mexico, and suggests that a transnational core practice - conceptualised as an 'assemblage' of six consistent, multidisciplinary elements which together achieve a creative 'workshop ecology' - can be identified in this work. With a background in community music and the voice, and participatory evaluation of community-based arts interventions, and an ethnographic anthropologist by approach, her current research interests include the nature and function of creativity, creativity and the arts in participation and activism, and international perspectives on participatory arts practices.
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