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Unit 4: Summary

This lesson started off with a brief introduction to SEA. Unit 1 certainly did not cover this topic in depth, but it rather aimed to present you with a few concepts and ideas that will hopefully stimulate your interest in the topic of SEA. We presented a few definitions of SEA and concluded that SEA is based on community, place and learning. You were introduced to, and studied, the SEA practitioner Suzanne Lacy. A few challenges and criticisms of SEA were also presented to assist you gaining a critical view on its practices.

In Unit 2 you discovered three case studies, all presenting different approaches and views on SEA. How capturing data and documentation can assist in collecting evidence to illustrate the impact of SEA project outcomes was tackled in Unit 3. In that unit you specifically reflected on Case Study 1 of this lesson to gain insights how data was collected for presenting evidence of the project Love Talk’s long-term impact. In the reflective exercises in Unit 3 you had the opportunity to think about how you could have improved on the selecting appropriate methods for collecting evidence, and also what the impact of your choices may have been.

Unit 4 is a practical unit. It started by presenting you with a short overview of the lesson, and next it will discuss the bigger picture of SEA. We attempt to understand:

  • Why do we practice SEA and how can it make a difference in our community work?
  • How can SEA be scaled for global impact?

The previous questions are important as SEA, in addition to community work, is often seen as ‘dabbling around the edges of society’ (McArdle, 2020, p. 25). This may, in the long run, create harm to a practice that seeks to make create transformative impact within our societies. Therefore, McArdle presents a useful list of thoughts to consider when we seek to generate impact through community work, but also SEA projects. McArdle (2020, p. 25-26) suggests:

  • We should, as SEA practitioners, create clear understandings of the change we set out to create within society by documenting and writing about the case studies we implement. Successful case studies need to be presented, literature developed and published to add to the pool of knowledge and literature that can be made available to practitioners and researchers alike, if possible, through open access publication.
  • We should, as SEA practitioners, engage in longitudinal studies as the impact we create becomes evident often after long periods of time and repeated intervention. The communities we work with need time, ongoing guidance, our dedication and support to achieve the collective goals they have set. Being generous with our time, sharing of knowledge and return upon return will generate the impact we hope for.
  • As SEA practitioners we need to be committed to showing the success of the work communities undertake and invest to achieve desired outcomes. Therefore, the collection of evidence through the selection of robust data collection and documentation strategies is paramount to achieve this goal.
  • The work we undertake with communities, the evidence we collect with them and the results and new knowledge we produce from synthesising and analysis should trickle up to policy making processes, thereby bridging the gap between community needs and decisions taken by policy makers. We have to influence policy processes, address who is lobbying for what, who is asking the questions, who is speaking and who is listening. Above all, how is the evidence presented for the work we undertake with communities?
  • Finally, we need to think of the bigger picture of a global context that we may affect with our work as SEA practitioners. How can our work influence and create change on a bigger scale? How can we scale our activities to the next level, who will drive such processes and which investments are needed to reach these scaled outcomes? Rising from the local level to affect national and international change is paramount to our work in SEA.

This list of needs that communities face and what may be considered key objectives for the work SEA artists strive for, leads to the next activity in this lesson. You will be presented with discussions by SEA practitioners who will share their practical experiences and knowledge on the topic when working with marginalised groups.

Activity 1

With the view on using socially engaged arts for creating, building and sustaining more inclusive communities, what would advice can we offer to emerging (socially engaged) artists to better engage with and build rapport with marginalised communities?

Video 1: A few thoughts for the road: Advice from SEA practitioners when working with marginalised communities (2022)

Activity 2

In the next activity you are required to make a mind map. You can use unlimited creativity, or if you prefer, you can create your mind map in digital format.

Mind map (30 minutes)

  1. Use any materials you have with you, whether it is paper, textiles, a digital device or any other medium to create a simple mind map identifying:
  2. The methods used in each of the three case studies you were introduced to in Unit 2 of this learning model for collecting evidence of the impact.
  3. How can you improve on the methods for collecting evidence and documentation practices used in the three case studies?
  4. How may your selected methods impact on the project impact and results?

You have reached the final stage of the learning unit. The next activity presents a short quiz with multiple choice answers that you can participate in gain insights into your learning throughout the four units of this lesson.


Hiltunen, M., Koskenniemi, P., & Sarantou, M. (2021). Love Talks and Neighbourhood: Promoting encounters, tolerance and social inclusion by means of art in daily life and the living environment in Finnish Lapland. Malta Review of Educational Research, 15 (Supplement issue on Socially Engaged Art and Global Challenges), 97–117.

Leavy, P. (2017). Research design: Quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods, arts-based, and community-based participatory research approaches. Guilford Publications.

McArdle, K., Briggs, S., Forrester, K., Garrett, E., & McKay, C. (2020). The Impact of Community Work: How to Gather Evidence. Policy Press.

Sarantou, M. (2021). Love Talks: Integrating foreign residents into the Rovaniemi community. In A. & Sarantou, M. (Eds.), Arts-based Social Interventions: First Results of the AMASS Testbed. University of Lapland.

Vella, R. & Sarantou, M. (eds.) (2021). Documents of Socially Engaged Arts. InSEA.