Super Slow Way: talent development for socially engaged practice
Super Slow Way shares its experience of co-developing the Faculty of Social Arts Practice and the lessons it has learnt along the way.
Super Slow Way is a programme of arts and cultural activity in Pennine Lancashire. The programme works with the communities along the Leeds and Liverpool canal from Blackburn to Pendle, which was the original ‘Super Highway’ of the Industrial Revolution that transformed Pennine Lancashire into the epicentre of global commerce and culture.
The aim of the programme is to stage a new, creative revolution powered by art and people, by exploring what art is and what it means to the people of Pennine Lancashire. The key themes of the programme are manufacturing past and present, the natural environment and the digital world. It also seeks to understand how local people relate to their environment, neighbourhoods and to each other to experiment with new approaches and show how art can transform lives and places. Super Slow Way is one of 21 Creative People and Places (CPP) programmes funded by Arts Council England, and it is delivered by a consortium comprised of the Canal & River Trust, Arts Partners in Pennine Lancashire (APPL), and social enterprise Newground. Super Slow Way also works in partnership with four local authorities: Pendle Borough Council, Burnley Borough Council, Hyndburn Borough Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council, which makes this one of the largest partnerships of Local Authorities across the CPP programme.
A key feature of Super Slow Way’s CPP programme is to support and develop models of socially engaged art practice. Social arts practice is an art medium that focuses on social engagement, inviting collaboration with individuals, communities, and institutions in the creation of participatory art. It aims to benefit a local area or society as a main outcome of the work over and above the artistic product and the artworks can take any form that involves people as collaborators, co-producers, co-creators. In order to achieve this Super Slow Way realised that it was necessary to identify and address the professional development needs of local artistic and creative practitioners. It saw CPP as a unique opportunity to offer an alternative arts schooling which specifically focused on socially engaged practice.
The other three CPP Places in the North West also recognised the need and value of developing this kind of professional development offer which led to the co-development of the Faculty of Social Arts Practice. The Faculty is a dedicated creative learning initiative for artists and creatives living and working in the North West of England. The concept was developed initially by Super Slow Way and Heart of Glass, as the Faculty’s priorities linked to these CPP Places’ wider ambitions around the field of social and collaborative arts practice. Together Chrissie Tiller, initiator and director of the MA in Participatory and Community Arts at Goldsmiths, and In-Situ, a local artist-led not-for-profit organisation in Pendle working closely with Super Slow Way, lead on the Faculty programme. The partnership with, and support from, Creative Scene and LeftCoast has created a unique joint initiative across the four CPP Places in the North West.
This case study looks at Super Slow Way’s relationship to the Faculty, some of the ways the Faculty has supported artistic development in Pennine Lancashire, and the impact and outcomes of the Faculty in relation to the wider work of Super Slow Way. It also examines the key outcomes of the Super Slow Way programme, including what worked well and less well and the main lessons that have been learned. This case study draws on interviews with Super Slow Way staff as well as staff and members (artists) of the Faculty.
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Super Slow Way: talent development for socially engaged practice (PDF)
Image courtesy of Super Slow Way. Mill Hill Boats. Photo by Matthew Savage.