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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Magazine Issue 53 Summer 2013
18 Author: Linda Knight School of Early Childhood, QUT Community Arts in Early Childhood Because of this, community arts are very different to what we might think of as fine arts practice. Community art is rarely a solitary activity but is often collaborative and intergenerational, this is particularly so in festival-based projects, or projects whereby community artists work together with families, school groups or community groups. Additionally, as a contrast to the arts produced as part of the school curriculum, community arts are also often voluntary rather than compulsory, and the aims and intentions for what is produced are less controlled or structured. Community arts in early childhood Significant hallmarks of community artworks are their multi-perspectival and multidisciplinary nature. This is because often people work together with different materials, to create artworks that represent their diverse viewpoints, and they use a range of skills to do this. Adults and children work with equal power and are positively encouraged to share their ideas and experimentations. This collaborative sharing makes community arts an ideal way for those in early childhood to participate in the arts, to understand the role the arts play in society, and how the arts help to build community identity. Professional learning It is very important that early childhood educators understand the many ways that children can engage with the arts so, in addition to their curriculum based arts education subjects, all students studying the Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood) degree at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT ), undertake a compulsory community arts subject in their final year. The timing of this subject is key in that students get to consolidate their teaching and curriculum knowledge in 'real-world' scenarios that are different to a more formal classroom or preschool space. The community arts subject requires the students to work in groups to design, implement and evaluate a community arts experience for young children, and to lead, collaborate and participate in communities of learning. These requirements help to develop an understanding of how to engage with diverse community stakeholders in a range of social and cultural contexts, and an appreciation of the value of the arts in community building, learning and development. What is community arts? Community arts can take many forms, including murals, installations, festivals and performances. The work can be produced by artists solely, by artists working with community groups, or by community groups. Community arts can be on a grand-scale covering whole streets, parks or even towns, or small-scale, such as a mosaic in the corner of a play area. It can be extremely impacting and a permanent fixture, or fragile and small and designed to blow away in the wind. But, common to all these different forms of community arts are the criteria that community arts are made in, for and/or by, the local community. reflections.issue53_Layout 1 11/11/13 2:27 PM Page 18
Reflections Magazine Issue 52
Reflections Magazine Issue 54