Reclaiming evaluation as a critical practice: the powers at play between art, community, and government

Screening and discussion, with Sophie Hope – at the Centre for Cultural Partnerships, University of Melbourne (RM C216, Music Building, 234 St Kilda Road) – Tuesday, September 18, 7 to 9pm

This screening and discussion, led visiting practitioner researcher from Birbeck, University of London, Dr. Sophie Hope, introduces a partial history of socially-engaged art and cultural policy in the UK, with examples of two projects: Performative Interviews and Critical Friends, which explore critical approaches to participation and cultural democracy. This critical discussion is introduced by Dr. Marnie Badham, artist researcher at the Centre for Cultural Partnerships, University of Melbourne who will provide Australian and Canadian contexts to practice and policy.

This event will be of interest for artists, policy makers, community members, and arts organizations. Join us for a glass of wine and lively discussion.

Dr. Sophie Hope’s practice-based research focuses on the relationships between art and society. She has worked as an independent curator (as one half of the curatorial partnership B+B), a writer and evaluator of public and socially engaged art and is a lecturer in arts management in the Media and Cultural Studies Department at Birkbeck, University of London. Sophie has developed a number of practical projects through which to research cultural policy, labour conditions and community art histories in the UK. These include a three-year participant-led investigation into socially engaged art (‘Critical Friends’ 2008-2011) and a large-scale community performance in a Dutch new town (‘Het Reservaat’ 2007).  Her PhD (completed in 2011), entitled: ‘Participating in the Wrong Way? Practice Based Research into Cultural Democracy and the Commissioning of Art to Effect Change’ explored the limits and possibilities of criticality in the context of an artists’ contract.

Dr. Marnie Badham is an artist researcher in Canada and Australia. Her current work examines the relationship between aesthetics and the ethics of engagement in socially-engaged art. Her community-based research uses democratized, dialogic and embedded approaches to evaluation. Creatively exploring representational practice (such as policy, metrics and art) with communities in the margins, Marnie’s recent collaborations are located in prison, housing estates, remote places, health centres, and on the street.

This event is presented as a part of the 3 year ARC funded linkage research project: “Towards an integrated approach to evaluating community-based arts” in partnership with Australia Council for the Arts and RMIT University. For more information, please call Marnie at 0448590948 or

By Sacha Kagan

Research Associate at the ISCO - Institute of Sociology and Cultural Organization (ISKO - Institut für Soziologie und Kulturorganisation), Leuphana University Lueneburg, Sacha Kagan founded the International level of Cultura21, Network for Cultures of Sustainability, as well as the International Summer School of Arts and Sciences for Sustainability in Social Transformation (ASSiST). The focus of his research and cultural work lies in the trans-disciplinary field of arts and (un-)sustainability. Doctor in Philosophy (Leuphana University Lueneburg) with a thesis on the subject of culture, the arts and sustainability under the perspective of complexity ; M.A. in Cultural Economics (Erasmus University Rotterdam) ; and Graduate of Sciences Po Bordeaux (political sciences). For Cultura21, Sacha is also coordinating the eBooks series, the regular updates on our multi-lingual website, the English section of our webmagazine and the work of our Lueneburg-based interns.