"We need a map because different parts of this system don’t see each other."
Socially engaged art-work is not new, and yet there has been increasing attention paid to it in recent years, by funders, arts organizations and other sector partners, as well as artists themselves. In 2015 Helicon Collaborative was supported by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation to conduct participatory research into this as a distinct domain of artistic practice, highlighting its core principles, practices and players. This research was guided by conversations and design sessions with dozens of artists. The report offers tools for artists to situate their work, as well as a description of the skills, intentions, and ethics commonly described by the practitioners we spoke with as a part of the research. Our goal was to make this important realm of art-making–which aims to have a social impact as well as an aesthetic one–more visible and legible to both practitioners and funders in order to enhance ethical and effective practice and expand resources to support it.
"the struggle to legitimize work that falls outside the narrow confines of top-down labels within the arts world is nothing new...achieving equity in our field requires those supporting socially-engaged artistic art to be more rigorous in the definitions related to their philanthropic interests and the funding trends that follow."