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Lesson 5: Engaging Communities in the Arts

Contributors: Raphael Vella, Isabelle Gatt, Milosh Raykov, Karsten Xuereb – University of Malta.


Engaging Communities in the Arts provides a combination of practical ideas related to applied theatre, community-based arts practice, and hands-on arts project development, as well as information on the ethical implications of working with communities.

The first unit will present considerations such as the importance of fieldwork and psychogeography in engaging with urban spaces, and will propose a keen observation of one’s surroundings.

The next unit describes the process of engaging a specific community in theatre-making and gives a brief introduction to the history of community-based theatre and explores the beauty as well as the challenges in this methodology.

The third unit presents the ethical implications of working with communities, in particular those that are marginalised or vulnerable.

And finally, basic project management skills are described as applied to community engagement and participatory arts practice.

Learning outcomes: This lesson will provide learners with knowledge of  engaging with spaces and communities while thinking about and practising socially-engaged art. Learners will consider the ethical implications of working with communities. To conclude, the lesson will touch on some of the aspects of managing and scaling socially-engaged art projects.

The successful completion of this course will enable participants to:

  1. Understand the importance of fieldwork in participatory projects;
  2. Describe different aspects of psychogeography;
  3. Understand the relevance of personal and collective narratives in the documentation of socially engaged projects.
  4. Identify and understand the basic management skills related to community engagement techniques
  5. Describe the range of tools that may be adapted to social practice arts
  6. Analyse and apply them to a variety of contexts at a local level
  7. Assess their knowledge and understanding through a set of questions that will ask them to apply the content of the module to practical situations.


This lesson is based on learning guided by videos, accompanied by reading material, activities, reflective tasks and self-study, as well as multiple-choice quizzes. The lesson consists of the following 4 units.

Unit 1: Engaging with Urban Spaces

Unit 2: Community-based theatre

Unit 3: Methodological issues in studying socially engaged art

Unit 4: Managing Community Engagement