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Evaluating Socially Engaged Practices in Art: The Autonomy of Artists and Artworks in Community Collaborations

Harry Matthews* and Aaron Moorehouse**

Open Scores Lab, Bath Spa University*,**


Question Journal, 2021. Issue 6 (2021), pp. 18-27



Issues concerning socially engaged practice, autonomy, and narrative in art are introduced alongside Claire Bishop’s critique of relational art. A conceptual framework from the community arts, the ‘Collaborative Stories Spiral’, is presented as a non-hierarchical platform for communities to develop individual and collective narratives. The framework is amended and applied to a reading of composer Brona Martin’s project Sowing Seeds, emphasising the reflective and expressive capabilities of the artist and their artwork. The article seeks to provide a necessary stimulus for better understanding how socially engaged practice may be discussed and evaluated in the community.


social engagement, community arts, autonomy, narrative, composition

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