Whew...a two day conference on Developing Practice in Participatory settings, ( Bit of a tongue twister that one) I was invited to attend this event by Devinda as part an NTW TEAM.So off to LLandrindod and the Metropole Hotel, lots of familiar faces. Susanne Burns the Artworks project Director was very welcoming again and has obviously listened to the reflections of artists and organisations had had been aproached by Artworks Cymru over the last couple of years .

Over 50 delegates plus guest speakers and the core team of organizers came to this Artworks Cymru event and so there was a lot of experience to draw on, we had some brilliant presentations from all over Wales and we were fed on rich images and stories that will be around with us for a long time.  .

 So many artists, health professionals, producers,educationalists  in the room - all of who wanted to take part in discussions and find out about each others practice. With this passionate group there was bound to be a lot to absorb and to take part in lively conversations about Why? How? and who with..

Some of the breakout groups looked at:- Art and Health, Youth Arts, working with vulnerable groups, and Arts in education.

The word Transformational was used a as a benchmark to the underlying concept of Participatory Arts Practice, we didn't get a definition of the concept but we could agree that in our practice as artists we have  witnessed  when truly engaged participants are in that critical place I call the  -The Zone- and so triggering a sometimes life changing  transformation that they carry with them for ever. 

.Einir Sion gave a provocative and funny bilingual presentation that challenged us all to be open and reveal our chaos that is part of the creative process,and trusting the partners we choose to work with so we can disclose our ideas to get  richer honest feedback .

Another issue was raised early on by Susanne Burns  Do we need a professional body or organisation to represent us as people who work in participatory settings? what are the models we should look at? Will we wait for someone else to form an organisation to create codes of practice with standards,research, with levels of quality being imposed...?

The context of working in a framework of quality assurance and the future landscape of Participatory settings were discussed over the two days,and perhaps we needed more time to have a free flowing discussion on these themes as we did at last years OPENSPACE session.

 One of the conclusions was to have a TED EX type event in Wales to broadcast our work to the wider world, and as an Inspiring event this will also act as an online archive looking at work that may be under the radar as well as the well documented large projects.

Paul Hamlyn Foundation has given continuing support to the Artworks Cymru project and Arts Council Wales will also  be supportive to this very necessary conversation with the professional partners and the wider world. Thank you NTW and TEAM for already delivering the conditions needed in Participatory practice.

Well The critical mass in the room has been achieved,enough of the right people in the right place, not always easy in Wales as logistics of travel and the real barriers artists face in time and money can stop freelance practitioners not always being represented at conferences. well done Artworks Cymru  .

A really energizing event and I'm looking forward to revisiting the images and personalities on the Artworks Cymru Wordpress Blog and Facebook page 



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Comment by Jan Miller on April 7, 2014 at 7:58

Great to hear about the conference Terry - would love to have gone but was too short notice from the North! Missing seeing you all at TEAM in Cardiff - let me know if there's any information you need to get out in the North for participation or otherwise. And hope to see you soon!

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