Finally. The archive of the Co-creative Communities forum is now online here: http://digitalstorytelling.ci.qut.edu.au/index.php/events
Co-Creative Communities took place at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Federation Square, Melbourne, on 8 November 2012.
The public forum brought together storytellers, broadcasters, filmmakers, artists, activists, cultural workers and researchers to discuss the challenges and opportunities that digital convergence and participatory media present for communities.
It was a cornerstone event in a research collaboration involving the Australia Council for the Arts, ACMI, Goolarri Media Enterprises, 31 Digital, the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia, and researchers from Creative Industries QUT, Curtin University and Swinburne University.
The online archive includes full recordings and transcripts from the day. Happy digging!
Applications have opened for the 2014 Communication for Social Change Award. This is the only award of its type, and is open “specifically those that have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to using communication to transform and empower marginalised communities” (http://www.uq.edu.au/ccsc/csc-award)
If you or your organisation has made a significant contribution in some way, or you know of others that have, it is worthwhile applying for this award. Winners of the award receive a $2500 towards travel to the awards ceremony, that will also help promote the impact and highlight the importance that communication projects have in development efforts.
If you are interested, or know someone who is, please refer them to this link: 2014 CSC Award.
As part of the Co-Creative Communities forum last November, we also ran a project development lab. One of the highlights of the day was Uralla Story Sound Walk, a hybrid media project bringing together folk from oral history initiative The Story Project, and Uralla Arts, the local arts collective.
The Sound Walk represents the next stage of The Uralla Story Project, bringing the audio pieces already recorded out into the community in the form of a creative audio-tour you can access on your smart phone. It will let locals and visitors discover more about the tiny New South Wales town, its history and its community.
This is how the team describe the project:
Imagine you are walking around the centre of town with your mobile, and suddenly you hear music, then a voice starts telling you stories from the past. This idea is to bring Uralla stories alive in the street by creating a sound walk that you can listen to on your smart phone. The stories are told by Uralla locals, woven in with music, myths, poetry and sounds from local artists and writers. It’s a first in regional Australia.
The team behind Uralla Story Sound Walk have had a very busy time since we last saw them in November.
After wrangling additional Council and community support, and securing most of the funding, the last stage of the project looks ready for lift off.
If you like the, erm, sound of Uralla Story Sound Walk, then make sure you vote for their project at: http://www.heartofourcommunity.com.au
Andrew Parker from Uralla Arts says “Each vote gets us a $ amount and gets us closer to the project happening. I met yesterday with a regional tourism rep who is now interested in looking at a regional application of this project after Uralla gets up. This would really put the arts and artists in this region on the map. So it is all very exciting.”
It has been a few months since the last Twitter update, but many fantastic things have been happening around the world with community uses of co-creative media.
Upcoming conferences include the 5th International Digital Storytelling Conference in Ankara, Turkey from the 8-10th May. This is a large conference with a diverse array of digital storytelling research, exhibitions and displays. Click here to subscribe to the Twitter list for that conference.
Another international event coming up soon is the 8th Digital Storytelling Festival to be held in Wales on the 14th June.
Also, there is the interesting Laundromat Project tweeted by researcher, designer, artist and educator Pip Shea. Also, check out Pip’s free downloadable PDF booklets.
There is some really interesting research on Video4Change, and links to this work have been tweeted by researcher Dr. Tanya Notley. Definitely a link worth checking out. This is in addition to many great links from Witness, who are celebrating 20 years. The Human Rights Channel has also been nominated for a Webby.
Also worthwhile reading are the regular blog posts from the MIT Center for Civic Media, that has included blog posts about Engage Media and their work.
March saw a lot of tweeting from the Australian Arts community in relation to Creative Australia, the Australian Government’s 2013 national cultural policy. This is in addition to the future of digital radio, and government funding in the community broadcasting sector, that was also making an impact on Twitter that month. This campaign is ongoing. Make sure to visit the “Commit to Community Radio” page for further information.
These are just a few of the many things that have been happening around the world. Please make sure to keep following the @ozccmorg Twitter feed for regular updates.
It was a busy couple of months heading towards the Co-Creative Communities Forum in Melbourne last month. The forum was held at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) on the 8-9th November.
Co-Creative Communities was a successful forum with a wonderful and diverse group of Community Arts, Media and Community Cultural Development organisations taking part from all over Australia. It also produced a very busy forum Twitter feed from attendees and participants, full of commentary, insights, links and discussion as the panels presented various projects, ideas and initiatives. This ignited great discussion; both at the forum and online in other parts of the country.
Here is a link to some of that discussion that has been archived on Storify. It provides a brief overview of the narrative of the day. Plenty of discussions happened offline as well, and it was a very exciting and enriching forum.
Ben Eltham’s article about the Co-Creative Communities event was posted online, and provided a great summary of first day.
But please check out the Storify link for the extended Twitter story!
I’m pleased to be posting this on behalf of Pip Shea, a designer, artist and PhD student here at QUT whose work is closely aligned with our Community Uses of Co-Creative Media research project. Pip has been developing these booklets as an experiment in translation across academic and community contexts, and it’s fantastic to see the first of them out in the wild!
From Pip’s original post:
Appropriate Approaches to Online Community is the title of the first booklet in a series of critical guides I have been developing for community artists. It is an experiment that attempts to translate some of my PhD research findings. The booklet was inspired and informed by a period of fieldwork at CuriousWorks.
The guide explores multiple aspects of making online community networks, so that practitioners might develop appropriate Internet practices – network solutions that take the specific needs of individuals and communities in to consideration. The guide promotes critical approaches to online community building, to encourage the continuation of creative practices beyond community arts projects.
Get the PDF at the original post
Sam Gregory, the Program Director from leading human rights agency WITNESS will be talking on Melbourne’s RRR next week.
Sam is one of our guests at next week’s CoCreative Communities forum, and he’ll be speaking to Jacinta Parsons on RRR’s Detour program at 10.15 am (day light saving time), Wednesday 7 November.
You can tune in through their website:http://www.rrr.org.au/programs/streaming/
Find out what WITNESS have been up to lately, including their ambitious partnership with YouTube on the Human Rights Channel that launched mid 2012.
A couple of weeks ago I caught up in a coffee shop with Jennifer Lyons-Reid (Creative Director) and Carl Kuddell (Executive Producer) to chat about their company Change Media and their approach to co-creative media making. With wide-ranging combined experience in activism and documentary, Change Media operates as a small team, working with a variety of communities nationally and internationally, unfolding from the premise that if you ‘teach a community to film… they can show the whole world how to fish…’
Jen and Carl noted that ‘co-creative media’ is a term that is becoming increasingly popular, and is starting to replace other terms like ‘collaboration’. They prefer it in some ways because it reflects an active acknowledgment of the facilitation process, rather than the prevailing tendency to make facilitation invisible and insignificant. For some time they have been documenting ‘behind the scenes’ processes as a means of reflecting the involvement of the communities they’re working with. However, all too often, they found that auspicing institutions (often third party funders) would assume that the particular community in question was ‘exceptional’ and that other presumably less exceptional communities would not be as adept, expert, capable of producing a ‘professional’ end product etc. As a means of re-dressing this Jen and Carl are now looking for new ways to represent with transparency the process behind any product thereby re-inserting themselves into the end product.
I asked Jen and Carl what examples of best and worst practice in co-creative production came to mind – they spoke at length about the increasing level of ‘story theft’ that they see in many so-called ‘do-gooder’ initiatives. They had heard many anecdotes about filmmakers flying; working briefly with the community to deliver an end product that adequately fulfills the funding criteria but is not what the community actual wants. Often, after the event, the community feels even more disenfranchised, actually ‘ripped off’. Jen and Carl have written an opinion piece for the Australia Council called ‘Get off my Back’ that explores some of these ideas further. You can read it here.
In terms of facilitation process, Jen and Carl aspire to active listening that often involves ‘naming the elephant in the room’, discussing the power lines laid down between funders, facilitators, community and individuals etc… they see themselves as triggers or ‘pilot fish’ for ‘innovative disruption’. In any development process they believe it is important to ask ‘where is the centre?’ just as much as ‘what are our objectives?’ and ‘what are the deliverables?’. They see this as a means of going further than just dealing with lack of technical agency; they attempt to address personal agency by walking into a room believing that every single participant is capable of great art… and working with people through a process of actively negotiating facilitation, creation, production, distribution etc. They believe communities should first decide why they want to share their stories and with whom. In this way they see themselves as ‘agent provocateurs’ who inspire leadership skills rather than ‘offering’ empowerment.
Meeting with Jen and Carl was an inspiration… you can meet them and hear them speak at the forthcoming ‘Co-Creative Communities Forum’ at ACMI in Melbourne. Read more about their projects and process at their comprehensive website http://www.changemedia.net.au/
The Media Resource Centre (MRC) in Adelaide has been around in a range of different incarnations and locations since 1974. In 1992 when the Lion Arts Centre was established in the West End the MRC merged with Co-media (SA’s community Media organisation) and relocated, simultaneously opening the Mercury Cinema. The MRC undertake a range of activities including professional development for entry-level to ‘emerging’ film, video and digital media creators; equipment hire (including a suite of Final Cut Pro equipped Macs); and production initiatives that support emerging filmmakers to make a number of early short films in various genres, including webisodes and music clips. Through their community and youth activity they also deliver a number of bootcamps and digital storytelling workshops both as MRC programmes and as service to NGOs. They have 2 cinema exhibition spaces available for launches and have an excellent curated programme of local and indie screen product.
I interviewed current Director Gail Kovatseff about the MRC’s role in the participatory media landscape in SA. Gail spoke a little about the sense of distance from activity on the eastern sea-board that manifests in occasional feelings of isolation for SA based screen practitioners and organisations. While she noted that the MRC are not actively engaged in a national debate about the state of play for community media, they’re very busy servicing a demand for ordinary people and communities to tell their stories. Gail was passionate about the successful entrepreneurial activities and initiatives the MRC undertakes with communities and highlights the differences between their approach and what she sees as the traditional, expensive and slightly stultifying community development (CCD) process, characterised by immersive and lengthy development that can thwart actual productivity.
“[In the past] we have actually gone to a community and said if I can get the money for this, do you want us to do it with you?”
Gail noted that ‘co-creativity’ is not a frequently used term at the MRC, but they speak in more general terms of ‘empowering people to tell their stories’. She also spoke at length about the aesthetics and professional standards that collaborations with professional filmmakers can bring to media productions and sees it very much as a process of helping storytellers make their stories as compelling as possible, something they can be proud of. In some case participants have received support not just in how best to script their stories but also media training on how to talk with journalists. A MindShare initiative designed for people living with mental illness encouraged storytelling in multiple forms (digital stories, blogs, audio, photos and interviews) across multiple platforms including a customised website and the local Messenger Press. I asked Gail about uses of social media in general and she noted that, apart from the requirements of specific initiatives (like MindShare and other projects like Big Stories, Small Towns) the MRC use social media and online spaces mostly for promotional activities rather than story-sharing space. That said, the MRC web site is undergoing ongoing expansion and they are simultaneously addressing a lack of people power by working towards employing a youth worker and eventually a community development officer.
You can find out more about the MRC’s suite of activities and programmes at http://www.mrc.org.au/ visit them in person at 13 Morphett St. Adelaide or call 08 8410 0979.
I caught up via Skype with Martin Potter who is currently in Cambodia working on an online community doco project with the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center. The ‘White Building’ is a rundown space with significant culture and history and the site of massive urban renewal. Following a filmmaker-meets-community collaborative format he has been exploring in projects over the last 5-10 years, Martin is working closely with local artists and residents to map the divergent stories of the community.
Martin has a diverse background working across documentary, television and online spaces and is inspired by the work of oral historian Studs Terkel and others who are using art and culture in really unique and inspiring ways… He’s also worked within institutions like the MRC (Media Resource Centre, Adelaide) and has recently won awards for his involvement in ‘Big Stories, Small Towns’ including the interactive community award at SXSW 2012. Martin likes to develop sustainable media-making by framing projects around the needs expressed by community, balanced with the objectives outlined by other stakeholders, for example funding agencies. He acknowledges that it’s hard to assure sustainability but in cases where projects are owned and embraced by the community and the overarching narrative of the initiative is compelling, they tend to bubble along way beyond the impetus provided by the original facilitators. He also acknowledges the pragmatic significance of ‘mapping institutional mindsets’ and a professional final product or glossy quantitative report on outcomes!
I asked Martin for his definition of ‘co-creative practice’ and after lots of discussion we ended up with a broad summary – ‘bringing new voices to screen-based narratives’. Martin pointed out that the field of products resulting from co-creative practice is also diverse, ranging across time frames from two minutes to hours; utilising moving images or purely text; in linear and non-linear formats; made in workshops by individuals and/or by groups over extended time-frames. Martin considered audiences for these participatory media projects are equally diverse – stories can be ‘narrowcast’ for family or a specific friend or alternately everyone in the world. He sees that new tools, technologies and models are excellent at facilitating personal connections through media. Martin draws on Paulo Freire, Ivan Ilich and Donella Meadows to highlight the underpinning intentions of dialogic engagement and convivial tools used to communicate within a complex system (like ‘the internet’). He’s particularly interested in systems and ecosytems in which participatory initiatives thrive. He ascribes to a theory that the goals (or incentives), the rules (or traits), and the feedback (punishments and rewards) that support or sustain the system arise from a particular mindset or paradigm. For those of you reading between the lines it might also be apparent that Martin is in the process of producing a PhD out of his reflections on participatory media!
We moved from this somewhat academic discussion to a refreshing evaluation of who owns the system in co-creative media production. Martin believes that someone has to ‘own’ the frame or context (although it can be co-owned) and acknowledge their authorial influence – a transparent acceptance that everything that is positioned within this frame is shaped accordingly. Beyond these acknowledgements, Martin also points out that any ecosystem has to be evolving and stay relevant in order to maintain audience engagement. He’s excited by the fact that online distribution of user-generated content means that mainstream broadcast is no longer the only means for circulating stories in the world…
You can see the fruit of some of Martin’s labours at www.bigstories.com.au and the www.whitebuilding.org website will be live from January 2013.