Participatory Arts and Active Citizenship

Worryingly, in recent years there has been increasing evidence to show disengagement and distrust of formal politics is particularly prevalent amongst young people.

Politics has become a dirty word and faith in politicians is at an all-time low. 18 – 25 year olds are less likely than their elders to engage with formal political institutions.

A 2013 IPPR report showed ‘just 44% of 18-24 year olds voted in the 2010 general election, compared with 76% of over 65s.’

Social class is another big indicator according to same report in 2010 ‘individuals in the highest income group were 43% more likely to vote than those from the lowest.’ Whilst this discrepancy between the old and young, rich and poor, is not unique to the UK, the UK’s unequal voting demographics are some of the widest in Europe.

 

Project details:

In this project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, we look at how participatory arts contributes to political engagement, both in formal elections but also less traditional forms of engagement.

We also examine how participatory arts can help young people personally re-connect by stimulating their individual aspirations and confidence for engaging in politics.

Project findings:

Results from the project show that participatory art encourages young people to discuss and debate political ideas and be more active in campaigning for political causes they believe in.

There have also been a number of practical outputs, in collaboration with creative arts provider Ignite Imaginations.

For example, we held an exhibition of some of the art pieces from the project with the mayor of Sheffield attending.

There was also a big event in London where several young people travelled to Parliament to present their art projects to MPs.

The final outcomes of the project can be seen in the report Participatory Arts and Political Engagement by Matthew Flinders and Malaika Cunningham.

 

part art Sheffield mayor

Celebrating the impact of participatory art with the Mayor of Sheffield

Parliament part arts action shot

Engaging Parliament in the benefits of participatory art on political participation

 

A video Canvas of Voices was also made during the project looking at the relationship young people have with politics.

 

More projects: Political Legitamacy and Delegated Agencies

Participatory art encourages young people to discuss and debate political ideas and be more active in campaigning for political causes they believe in.

Our Corner: Art As Political Expression

Video about the project from our partners Ignite Imaginations

Related research streams

See more on our research stream: youth politics and citizenship.

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