The Butlers - Service as Participation

Matthew Fletcher

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This section of the journal collates articles and other content arising from The Art of Participation Forum, which took place on the 7th & 8th of May, 2016, at the University of Kent in Canterbury, UK. The event brought together an international group of artists and academics who are involved in participatory arts in a variety of ways and who hail from the many corners of this wide field of activity. We wanted to explore the inherently practical phenomenon of participatory arts by doing as well as discussing, which meant that the Forum took a practice-as-research approach. To this end, we curated a programme comprised of condensed versions of academic presentations and practical workshop sessions, together with longer performance pieces. To further embed the spirit of participation within the structure of the event, we devised an innovative, non-hierarchical format, in which all attendees both lead a session and participated in each other's. This fostered a feeling of joint-ownership of the Forum amongst those present. In the Organiser Conversation video, we, the organisers, introduce ourselves before reflecting on questions such as 'why we wanted to make the Forum happen,' 'who we wanted to attend,' and 'what was original about it?' The video is somewhat playful in nature, which reflects our attitude in facilitating the event. To continue some of the conversations that were had over the weekend, we gave all participants the opportunity to respond to it. The presentation of these are mixed, in that some are more academically inclined, whereas others are of a more performative and reflective nature – this is a true reflection of the variety of voices we had at the forum. These have been compiled with an introductory article, exploring how the event was developed and run, as well as reflections on it, which functions as an extension of the video. The final element of this section is an interactive Twine, which offers an interactive way of engaging with all the contributions and elements. Within the Twine, readers are able to follow particular themes throughout and also try to find some of the hidden, bonus content, thus evoking both the playful nature of both the Twine and the Forum itself. The three elements that frame the contributors’ material reflect the innovative nature of the Forum event itself, by trying to find different (and interactive) ways of engaging people with the topic of participation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)15-21
    Number of pages7
    JournalPARtake - The Journal of Performance as Research
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2017


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