Democratising art commissioning by involving local communities
DemArt aims to democratise art funding by developing an innovative, replicable participatory process for municipalities to enable community members to award commissions to selected artists.
The proposed method empowers citizens to commission artworks that respond to local priorities, explore untold stories and celebrate diverse perspectives, identities and experiences. In the frame of DemArt, art commissioners with diverse backgrounds are responsible for the entire art commissioning process: they identify local values, untold stories, and unresolved problems they would like to address through the art commissioning process; they create an open call for artists; and they commission the artworks. Giving space to the presentation of the culture of an underrepresented group attracts an audience from the community. At the same time, it fosters tolerance and social cohesion by allowing the larger audience to deepen understanding and build appreciation beyond stereotypes and prejudices.
The project will publish an open-source Art Commissioning Toolkit that provides practical guidance for municipalities as an output. Through the dissemination of the toolkit, the project will enable communities establish similar projects. While the main target audience of the toolkit is municipalities, the resource can be used by any actor that wishes to democratise their funding processes. The co-ordinator of the projects, Bethlen Theater and Pro Progressione, a prominent cultural institution in Budapest committed to creating inclusive and accessible theatrical experiences for all audiences aimed at mobilising relevant knowledge and expertise in the field of socially engaged arts. The Polish partner, Art Transparent finds it particularly important to emphasize the special role of contemporary art in the process of social development. The Latvian partner, New Theatre Institute of Latvia has been active for a long time with the topic of community-engaged and led projects, running residencies and contemporary art programmes.