What are the Common Threads in a Critical Mass? Perspectives shared by international arts-in-health practitioners

Critical Mass was the name given to an international gathering of arts in health practitioners hosted by the Centre for Medical Humanities in June 2011. The event is reviewed here and here, and you can see images from the first day of the programme here.

In this post, Mike White offers his subjective assessment of what appeared to him to be the key and recurring points submitted by participants prior to the Critical Mass meeting.  Participants were invited to explain the principles and values that inform their interest in community-based arts in health and their current lines of enquiry. This assessment was intended not as a credo or manifesto, but simply as a prompt for conversation:

  • We have a sense of crossing professional boundaries – in hybrid and unconventional roles – with a tendency to generalism and/or  inter-disciplinary collaboration rather than specialism
  • We have a commitment to social justice – addressing health inequalities through a nexus of collective creativity, health education and citizenship
  • We are activists, creating and connecting the field
  • We seek transformational change more than instrumental effects
  • We are interested to connect the diversity of global practice of arts in health through a better understanding of process and context
  • We want to develop a 5-year agenda on a realistic scale, drawing in wider interest and participation
  • Some of us thrive on complex connections; others strive to disentangle complexity – either way, we try to turn complexity into revelation
  • The foundation of our practice lies in humanist values rather than disciplines and dogmas – so what is inter-disciplinary collaboration in this field?
  •  We focus on relationship-building through shared reflective practice
  • Though we may go back to basics on occasion, we advance our thinking to be capable of looking at the field from every which way

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