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Arts and Society responded to some of the challenges articulated in the RSA pamphlet, Arts Funding, Austerity and the Big Society.

There is a unique and valuable role for the RSA to play in the current global climate of austerity and intense change, given our breadth of Fellowship to act as broker, enabler and innovator for new models of ways of working needed as society attempts to make sense of 21st century needs. Arts and Society has focused upon how the arts can motivate change for new ways of working and inspire new frameworks for partnerships. We connect practice with policy with attention to people's everyday experience of arts and culture.

This strand addressed socially engaged arts practice, loosely defined as the facilitation of an experience or set of relationships that will impact upon positive social change. Projects were underpinned by recognition of a creative pedagogy. 

The Arts and Social Change strand was built upon the following propositions:

  • That the arts play a transformational role in affecting people's behavioural patterns with each other

  • That arts practices can impact upon social innovation through creating new perspectives and ways of seeing the world

  • That experiences in the arts are available to all and lend 'voice' to the 'voiceless'

The primary project in this strand has been Arts and Social Change in Peterborough, which has now completed. The Arts and Society team of Jocelyn Cunningham and Georgina Chatfield took part in RSA place-making projects that explored cross disciplinary collaborations for creative new approaches such as Plymouth and Chelmsford but also in arts-based place making initiatives such as Prosper in Kent.

This strand now continues with a new partnership with Wiltshire Council.

Knitting Together Arts and Social Change argues for a central role for the arts in ensuring sustainable systemic change and offers examples from Arts and Society of how creative practice strengthens a willingness for people to engage with each other and build co-productive behaviour, and critically reflects on the challenges uncovered by this kind of work.