Swindells, Steve and Powell, Anna (2014) Definitions of, and critical perspectives on creative citizenship. In: Creative Citizens The Conference, 18-19 September 2014, Royal College of Art, London. (Unpublished)

As the concept of engagement grows, and the possibility of relating art practice,
research and public engagement expands, this paper explores the issues around what it
means to be an ‘engaged artist’ within an ‘engaged university’. As cultural policy
becomes an increasingly significant component of the economic and physical
regeneration of towns and cities across the UK, it asks what will the cultural legacy be of
socially engaged art practice?
Gert Biesta, in ‘Good Education in an Age of Measurement: Ethics, Politics, Democracy’
(2010) is seriously concerned with the instrumentalisation of education, in particular how
the principles of relentless auditing are reframing educational practices, and how
accountability may actually exacerbate the normative question of ‘what is good
education?’. Biesta’s concern is whether measurement can be tamed, and utilised to
reconnect with the question of how to recognise good education, with particular
reference to democratic citizenship.1 t Biesta does not suggest that measurement is
wrong, but seemingly perverse in its current application and is in need of dialogue with
respect to citizenship. Biesta is similarly concerned with the interrelationships between
1 Gert Biesta, Good Education in an Age of Measurement: Ethics, Politics, Democracy (Interventions:
Education, Philosophy, and Culture) (Boulder, Colorado: Paradigm Publishers, 2010), p.1.
learning, identity and agency in people’s lives, and how cultural citizenship and
education responds to the complexities of contemporary societies.
In 2011 we commenced a formal partnership with Huddersfield Art Gallery to offer a
programme of art and design exhibitions featuring the work of our colleagues at the
University of Huddersfield. We asked the question of how art and design practice might
impact upon the locale, and what we should look for in order to better understand this
impact and its value? Biesta might have responded to these questions with, ‘it depends’;
it depends on whether all gazes can be invited, encouraged and equalised through the
interpretation and mediation of ‘the exhibition’.2 Artists, curators, universities and
research councils are now all considering what it means to be ‘engaged’.

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