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Abstract

Community arts have been in evidence in Ireland for over three decades; however, this form of artistic practice has been largely overlooked from social studies perspectives. There is a dearth of social studies scholarship on community arts within the Irish context, which may be explained in part by participatory arts becoming the more dominant practice in recent years. Therefore, this article works to introduce youth work, community development and social studies students and practitioners to community arts and to try and spark interest in this type of arts-based practice. The paper seeks to provide an understanding of community arts and to differentiate community arts (focused on and emerging from communities) from participatory arts (focused on individuals and groups and emerging from organisations and/or institutions). The history of community arts in Ireland is outlined and the contribution of community arts to youth work and community development is focused on. Drawing from international empirical research the paper highlights the beneficial role that community arts can have, in the contexts of youth work and community development. To conclude, the article argues that community arts can play an important role in youth work and community development because this type of arts-based practice facilitates collective community expression and can help stimulate social change from the ground up. The paper encourages youth work, community development and social studies students and practitioners to examine any preconceived ideas they have, that might inhibit them from helping facilitating community arts projects and set these aside; in order to, explore opportunities to foster cohesive magic and creative collective expression to bring about social change.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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