Old Words: All in This Together

François Matarasso presents an audio essay examining the depoliticisation of community art in Britain between 1970 and 2011.


Episode 015     January 6, 2023
Contributors    François Matarasso    

François Matarasso presents an audio essay, the last in the current series, examining the depoliticisation of community art in Britain between 1970 and 2011. He wrote the essay between 2011 and 2013 and has subsequently revised it for reading here.

He argues that the Thatcher government began a concerted move to recast citizens as consumers, and to move from the communal to the strictly individual. He says that “Community art was used to describe a complex, unstable and contested practice developed by young artists and theatre makers seeking to reinvigorate an art world they saw as bourgeois at best and repressive at worst. The term fell out of favour at the beginning of the 1990s, to be replaced by the seemingly-innocuous alternative, ‘participatory arts’, though the original term is still used by some people and may even be in the process of rehabilitation”.

He produces a detailed a complex argument that uses plenty of contemporary examples ranging from Welfare State and 7:84 to ‘Swagger Jagger’, the first record by Cher Lloyd, who finished fourth in the 2010 series of The X Factor.


References

Parliament of Dreams. You are free to copy, distribute, or display the digital version on condition that: you attribute the work to the author; the work is not used for commercial purposes; and you do not alter, transform, or add to it.