Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Contesting agendas of participation in the arts.

Price, Jonathan


Jonathan Price


Forms of participatory practice have become ever more widely employed across the arts in recent years, operating across various institutional settings and social contexts. It is misleading, however, to assume that a single agenda binds these developments or that they serve the same social values and interests. Veils of common terminology can conceal important differences of political intent and ethical integrity. Conceptions of art, artists, culture and community vary widely, while terms such as participation, engagement and co-creation are rarely well defined. This article draws on current research into UK cultural and artistic leadership, as well as established theories of participation and action, to explore the complex power relations that underpin participatory discourse. It critiques policies and practices that claim 'participation' as an automatic methodological virtue, questioning the positive connotations of participatory language, particularly in relation to shaping assumptions of shared interest. It argues that there is a need for improved critical self awareness on the part of artists involved in participatory projects and processes, discussing possible frameworks for analysis of the relevant power relationships.


PRICE, J. 2015. Contesting agendas of participation in the arts. Journal of arts and communities [online], 7(1-2), pages 17-31. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 1, 2015
Online Publication Date Jun 1, 2015
Publication Date Jun 1, 2015
Deposit Date Feb 19, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jun 2, 2016
Journal Journal of arts and communities
Print ISSN 1757-1936
Publisher Intellect
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Issue 1-2
Pages 17-31
Keywords Art; Cultural leadership; Discourse; Engagement; Participation; Power
Public URL


Downloadable Citations