From this year onwards, ICAF is not only international in its festival programming, but also in the very heart of the organisation. We’d like to introduce you to our second guest curator: Matt Jennings. Matt is an actor, musician, writer, director, scholar and community arts facilitator currently living in Northern Ireland. Get to know him by his beautifully made video and short interview with our assistant programmer below.
Jasmina Ibrahimovic: What are your artistic and social criteria for community arts?
Matt Jennings: I think good community arts practice supports the political, cultural, social and economic development and autonomy of communities and the people that create them. The potential benefits of good community arts practice are social, personal and aesthetic. The potential social benefits include: improvement in the health and wellbeing of communities and society as a whole; the development of political consciousness, activism and solidarity within and between community groups locally, nationally and internationally; the generation of cultural capital (through developing shared resources, skills and a broad knowledge base); economic development, through jobs, investment and tourism; more secure and cohesive communities and an enriched quality of life; the celebration of cultural diversity, shared identity and the imaginative possibilities of creative play. The potential personal benefits can include: developing the confidence to express oneself creatively; the opportunity to socialise and make new friends; improving and understanding verbal and non-verbal communication; gaining employable skills; becoming more active in your own social, cultural and political networks; as an avenue to life-long learning and formal education; and for having fun, joy, adventure and pleasure. In terms of art and aesthetic innovation, good community arts can support the development of cultural democracy and the idea that art can be created by anyone and everyone, not just the sanctioned elite; the discovery and nurturing of new artistic voices, perspectives and forms; of pioneering changes in relational, participatory and interdisciplinary arts; and the creation of art by, for, with and/or about its audiences and co-creators.”
JI: How do you imagine your role as ICAF guest curator?
MJ: As guest curator I want to share the discoveries and benefits of my work as an international practitioner and researcher of community arts. I have been lucky enough to meet and learn about some of the most valuable, inspirational and innovative artists and art works of any kind anywhere. I would like to invite people who are creating work that makes a real difference within their local communities to share this work with people from other communities – to begin conversations; to make friends; to spark ideas; to start arguments; to blow our minds or change them; to break bread, taboos, barriers and the chains of personal and social limitation.
Read more about our guest curators here.