Tool Shops – the context for collaborative community arts projects

Projects are by nature short term yet they can only have a lasting legacy if they take place in the context of a long-term plan. It’s not the projects themselves that are the problem – it is the lack of context. When we have a sense of a long-term plan for ourselves we can see everything we do as a learning opportunity and a step towards a long term goal.

This is more difficult at the social level as we need to find a context that enables us all to contribute in our own unique way towards a goal we can all share. I suggest that this goal can be: ‘to build communities where everyone has the capability to fulfil their potential’. In this context anything anyone shares can create capability and everything we do can help us build the tools we all need to achieve our long-term goals – both as individuals and as communities.

To achieve this we are developing a diverse and inclusive network of people that all support each other to make tools. According to Wikipedia tools are ‘anything physical that helps people achieve goals.’ Physical tools can help us create change, demonstrate our progress and enable others to learn from our experience. Tools can also be anything that helps us achieve our potential, the full range of social and psychological tools that help us all live increasingly independent, purposeful and creative lives.

Since we all fulfil our potential by building our capabilities then we can design projects as opportunities for people to acquire specific capabilities. This can help us develop collaborative community arts projects as equal creative collaborations in which everyone contributes and everyone benefits equally.

It can also provide a sustainable context and a connection between all the many short-term projects and initiatives that take place in the community by sharing opportunities for people to build tools and capabilities. Creating tools from these projects can facilitate input from a diverse range of people and enable people to contribute to a wide range of projects. For example people will soon be able to contribute to collaborative projects by developing tools to create your own postcard; poster; radio or stained glass window.  All these projects focus on specific issues like violence against women, isolation and social exclusion but all examine universal themes and all can build capability across the community.

These tools and many other will be shared in newsletters, on-line and at ‘Tool Shops’ – public events and forums in community venues where we share tools and make new ones. We are hoping to see Tool Shops pop up in a wide range of community venues, shops, cafes, galleries, museums etc so that people can begin to see their entire community as a creative resource for creative capability development.

Please let us know if you are interested in hosting a tool shop in your community or if you would like to share anything at all that can help build sustainable social change:

We are particularly looking for people to:
Recommend a tool
Share an opportunity
Come to a Forum
Sign up for our newsletter
Host a Tool Shop in your community
Join our team.

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