A year and a half ago, we, the “Social innovation center”, launched a project “Art as an Opportunity“, which was implemented with the support of the Erasmus + program KA1, and at the moment, by concluding the project, we present the overview “Art as an Opportunity for Change” – an attempt to identify art as a tool for social changes and to introduce with art projects as socially responsible projects, to search for definitions of the concept of “social art” and to illustrate social art with examples of practice in Latvia and Europe, as well as to identify areas of business as potential for the development of social business directions. The material is available in Latvian, but we promise to provide English version in the nearest time.
Our challenge was to identify the social art (social art, social artristry) as a discipline in search of sustainable, responsible and effective solutions that contribute to each member of the public well-being and draws the public’s attention and motivate to seek solutions to challenging and complex problems related with the disabled, poverty, the unemployed, immigrants and other minorities, increasing social and civic as well as personal growth.
Similarly to the term social innovation, the terms social art (in the same sense are also used: social mastery, social practice) and social design are not defined, there are no commonly accepted definitions. Depending on the context in which they are used, their meaning can vary greatly.
Very often, however, these terms are related to social responsibility, agents of social change, through the introduction of changes that promote the benefit of the whole society and improve its well-being, as well as by expressions that draw attention to the major political, economic, environmental, social and other issues in the community or worldwide.
Social art and social design are trying to address the issues and problems of vulnerable social groups, questioning the current status quo and the modern “western” world design solutions. Social art is often also associated with art methods used in education and medicine. Even if social design is sometimes criticized, as attempts to address only consequences, rather than deeper causes, are still becoming more popular and recognizable in the whole world with social art. Social design and social art ideas are included in curricula at various educational institutions around the world, collaborative centers established, related research is encouraged, individual creative initiatives are launched, and relevant publications on these topics are created.
During the project, we were looking for examples of social art and design not only in Latvia, but also in Europe, visiting the partner organization VIAINDUSTRIAE and its cooperation partners and informal groups in Italy, Vignola and Foligno, in order to get to know social art as a tool for education and integration. During the visit of several days we get acquainted with the host organization, the projects implemented, the philosophy and objectives of its activities, as well as the association’s team, cooperation partners and people involved in the projects.
VIAINDUSTRIAE implements projects that can be characterized not as short-term and unique, but complex projects, during which the involvement of the public at all stages of the project takes place. The social art projects implemented by the Association focus on promoting social integration, intergenerational cooperation and transfer of experience, enabling project participants to learn the history and personal stories of their region and city, focusing on vulnerable groups of the society and increasing not only the public in general, but especially on the education and growth of an individual.
During the visit in Vonjola we had the chance to meet institution Azienda Pubblica di Servizi alla Persona, they leaders, management team and creative group. The institution is implementing social art projects with the goal of integrating society and generation in the city of Vignola, making the institution accessible and allowing everyone to get an insight into its life.
Thanks to this exchange of experience, the material “Art as an opportunity for change” is created within the framework of the project as our attempt to identify art as a means to actualize social problems, to introduce art projects as socially responsible projects, to look for definitions of the concept of “social art” and to illustrate social art with examples of practice in Latvia and Europe, as well as identify areas of business as potential for the development of social entrepreneurship. The material is part of the the Bachelor’s paper work of the co-author, the volunteer project assistant at the Social Innovation Center, by the Adela Bērziņa undergraduate student in the Management of the Tourism Organization of Vidzeme University.
In tha Autumn of last year, Social innovation center launched a social art – charity project “River of Life” in cooperation with the Ladies’ Circle Latvia (LCL) and the Municipal Agency “Kekava Social Care Center”, “Adult Long-Term Social Care and Social Rehabilitation Center”, which allows to get to know and illuminating the life stories of the elderly people of the Kekava district, to look at the age as a part of the value and history, retell stories about and around people as part of the history and present of the county.
The project identifies and updates a social issue such as social exclusion and social inclusion. Particularly older people are subject to social exclusion, a process in which the individual, due to various circumstances, can not fully or partially enter into society and participate in the economic, social and cultural life of a society.
The photography exhibition as part of this project is also included in the Latvian national centenary digital calendar https://lv100.lv/programma/kalendars/projekts-dzives-upe/
Project manager: Anita Stirāne
This project is co-financed within Erasmus+ program KA1 . The information and views set out in the project materials are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Commission.