The role of arts practice and expression in the resilience of rural communities in coastal areas


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This talk sets out Gwenda’s PhD which is just getting underway. It was presenteed at Workshop 3 of the The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and AHRC Humanities Research Networking and Exchange Scheme; ‘“Between the Tides”. Comparative arts and humanities approaches to living with(in) intertidal landscapes in UK & the Netherlands. Learning from those who live and work with complexity, change and fragility’ on 23rd Oct “103 in Windmill Hill City Farm, Bristol UK.

The project is led by Dr Owain Jones of CCRI with Dr. Bettina van Hoven Department of Cultural Geography, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen. Gwenda’s PhD is one of the exciting outcomes of this research network.

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  • Looking at community resilience, I focus on the role of artspracticeandexpression in enhancingthis.Engaging in the arts is associated with several benefits, such as developing social and interpersonal skills, providing opportunities for achievement and self-expression, capacity building, empowerment, and expanding networking opportunities. The arts are oftenassociatedwiththeirabilitytoindicateandalsogeneratesocialcapitalSocialcapital - is describedbyPutnam as “features of social organization, such as networks, norms, and trust, that facilitate coordination and cooperation to mutual benefit”, .. itreferstoconnectionsamongindividuals, andtointeractionamongthem. Thisenablespeopletobuildcommunities, tocommitthemselvestoeachother. A sense of belongingand the concrete experience of socialnetworks (whichinvolves trust andtolerance) can, it is argued, bringgreat benefits topeople. A significant supply of socialcapitalcanforexampleenhancesocial cooperation andimproves the quality of life.
  • Visuallyit looks likethisIn my PhD I aimtoassess the role of arts practiceandexpression in building resilientcommunities in coastalregions. Here, a key concern is toexplore the bonding or bridgingrole of arts, andit’sinfluence on community interaction.
  • On the hand-out I gave twodaysago I put the same image,willquickly walk youthroughnow.In general: I adopt a participatory approach, which means I involve the local community as co-researchers. Because of this, the research participants will play a large role in for example the data collection  go-along interview, direct theatre play
  • Phase 1-a: Capture place-stories of Lytse Bouhoeke and residents’ senses of place through:- go-along interviews- creation of visual data (photographs) by residents themselves (photovoice)Involveyouth & elderly. How do people understand Lytse Bouhoeke through their histories and into the future? What do they perceive as threats/challenges/coming changes? Contested places? This phase engages the community in capturing its past, but also in thinking about its future at a time when many changes are taking place. Discuss participants opinion of state of the community (of the past and now), perceived challenges, role of the artsThis phase is aimed to collect material upon which the theatre play (phase 2) will be based and, moreover, the engagement with the community will also lead to a greater understanding of the community Lytse Bouhoeke.Phase 1-b: In phase 1-a, residents have explored their community with cameras. In this phase, the participants will be brought together in a focus group setting to reflect on the images they have produced and to discuss their photographs. Interesting because it entails both views of youth & elderly – old community narratives vs. current community narratives
  • Phase 2: The data from phase 1 will be used during the second stage of the project: to create a community theatre play based on the stories and photos of phase 1a, in collaboration with FryskSelksip (Arum) and ?? GerdaHolzhaus (Pingjum) ??. Preferably the play focuses on issues such as changes in the community / contested places / responses to (coming) changes in the community. Use photographs as background?The play engages the community and aims to raise their awareness of issues at play in the community and generate a discussion afterwards (therefore, also invite relevant stakeholders such as local politicians). This phase will be recorded through observations/field notes and interviews with participants, for instance to explore the development of social capitalWorkshopsPhase 2b Follow-up in the form of a questionnaire to monitor the long-term benefits / usage of developed skills of both participants phase 1 & 2
  • The role of arts practice and expression in the resilience of rural communities in coastal areas

    1. 1. The role of arts practice and expression in the resilience of rural communities in coastal areas. A case study of the Frisian Wadden Area. Gwenda van der Vaart 23 October 2013
    2. 2. Research topic  Rural areas face several challenges What role can arts practice and expression play in  enhancing the resilience of rural communities in coastal areas?    Resilience: Community’s ability to meet future challenges, to survive and to flourish in interconnected social, economic and environmental terms despite risk and adversity Sustainability, quality of life, ‘future proofing’ communities Cultural side: sense of place, social capital
    3. 3. Research topic Art; social and interpersonal skills, selfexpression, capacity building, empowerment, networking opportunities, etc.  Often associated with ability to indicate and generate social capital “features of social organization, such as networks, norms, and trust, that facilitate coordination and cooperation to mutual benefit” Putnam (1995: 67)  Connections among individuals / interactions  Enhances social cooperation, improves the quality of life 
    4. 4. Research topic
    5. 5. Research area  Geographic focus: Lytse Bouhoeke, in the Frisian Wadden area
    6. 6. Research approach
    7. 7. Research approach
    8. 8. Research approach
    9. 9. Research approach
    10. 10. What do YOU think?
    11. 11. Thank you for your attention!