• community art;
  • participation;
  • history;
  • voice


In Australia, community art has drawn significant research attention in regard to its potential as a community development strategy. Despite the fact that researchers have presented evidence for the positive developmental outcomes of participation in community art projects, a gap remains in understanding how and why people's participation in a community art project can lead to those positive outcomes. This research explored the meaning of participation in a community art project from the vantage point of the people who experience it. Ten participants were interviewed about their participation in a community art project (The Seeming) held in Bendigo, Australia. Following thematic analyses we identified three themes of how participants viewed their participation in a community arts project. These themes included giving voice to the silenced, creation of social connections and challenging and reproducing stereotypes. Participation means coming together and the findings highlight the potential of community arts projects for promoting the creation of new relationships and new stories about community. However, there are also problematic stories about self and others that were not deconstructed. It is argued that the settings in which different groups join can be meaningfully extended if there is an explicit concern with consciousness raising and deconstruction of normative stories. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.