Creative Publics Final Report
by Tara Mahoney
Ahead of the 2015 Canadian federal election, some of us on the ASC! research project team started to think about how we could do a project that used art as a form of voter engagement, particularly, but not exclusively, youth. We were interested in the question: can the art-making process make politics more engaging and effect voter behaviour? In order to explore this question, we partnered with the mobile art studio Tin Can Studio and Creative Publics got under way. We traveled to four sites to set up mix-media collaging workshops where anybody passing by had the opportunity to explore election issues that were most important to them while engaging in a creative, tactile activity.
Creative Publics took inspiration from the Occupy Wall Street movement and its ability to create temporary political zones in public space where informal political discussions were supported and encouraged. As such, we wanted to created porous spaces where people could engage in political expression through the making of art. The act of making offered both a social and introspective opportunity to reflect on issues that matter to participants. The space attracted people who might not have otherwise talked to each other and who found themselves side-by-side weighing issues and assembling political priorities while cutting, gluing and coloring. The project culminated in an interactive, public art installation that was on display in front of the Belzberg Library at SFU Harbour Centre campus in downtown Vancouver during the week before the Canadian federal election.
Our survey results revealed that participants enjoyed the unique opportunity to interact with fellow community members and the majority of participants reported that the art-making activities increased the likelihood that they would vote. Beyond the data, we were exposed to the latent beauty and thoughtful nature of the people within our community.
We look forward to analyzing the rest of the data from Creative Publics and finishing the project report and paper, which will be available on the ASC! Project website in the coming months. Learn more about the details in the final report here.