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Connected Culture

Peer review

As professionals working in adult participatory arts we now more than ever need to have confidence in our own abilities, and be able to tell a richer story about the value of our practice.

We’re operating in a climate where success stories and happy endings revolve around three central characters of bums on seats, “artistic excellence” and a healthy financial bottom line.

‘To Peer review or not to Peer Review’ was a Connected Culture discussion forum held in February 2011.

At the event we aimed to find a way of using our own language to ascribe value to participatory arts in a way that has meaning to us.  At the discussion we came up with the values that we found important:

Creativity: happiness, challenge, celebration, honesty, desire, wellbeing, passion
Equal voices: support, accessibility, openness, diversity, inclusion, language
Social change: emotional resonance, human rights, empowerment, compassion, dialogue, developmental

The next step was to pilot a peer review technique to test out our values against current projects.  Organisations and individuals came forward who:
– had projects to be reviewed
– who were happy to review projects,
– who would act as ‘connectors’ – bringing together reviewer and reviewee to negotiate mutually agreed terms of engagement.

A call was put out to participatory arts organisations and practitioners across London for people and projects to get involved.

Right now, projects by Streetwise Opera, Action Space, Spare Tyre, Dance United, RSA and London Bubble are being reviewed.

They are being reviewed by David Slater (Entelechy Arts), Caroline Joyner (Independent Practitioner), Sylvan Baker (People’s Palace Projects), Simon Jenner (Survivors Poetry), Jocelyn Cunningham (RSA) and Adam Annand (London Bubble).

And finally the connectors: Bonnie Mitchell (Connected Culture), Jonathan Petherbridge (London Bubble) and Jocelyn Cunningham (RSA) are linking reviewers and reviewees together.

Our aim is to develop a framework to enable Peer Review to continue. Our aim is to together tell a richer story about the value of our practice.