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We presented the first Typology of Harm prototype at the international 'Spectres of Evaluation' conference at the Footscray Community Arts Centre Feb 6-7 2014, commissioned by the Centre for Cultural Partnerships, Victorian College for the Arts, University of Melbourne.

Developed by Change Media, in collaboration with VCA and with support from here studio, the prototype is the first stage of our innovative-disruptive work to include a card game for self evaluation of harm in art and culture, e-reader and online version. The prototype presentation was accompanied by a multimedia art installation of our development-in-progress and a hands-on workshop (sculpture, image work, video, mass player lanyard game).

During the 2-day event, the Department for Critical Illiteracy launched the prototype ‘Typology of Harm in CACD’. After an introduction of the methodology, participants played out different negative value scenarios and developed their own typology of harm, to map out their own experience of harm, by using a unique set of N.I.C.E. cards [Negative Indicators Commonly Experienced].

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Our development of the typology will introduce a range of tools and ‘archetypes’ based on identified negative values and behavior patterns we identified in collaboration with colleagues and community participants over years of 'successful' practise, to open up a dialogue on the issues of harm, risk, power and value. Our method aims to strengthen critical literacy across the sector to support stakeholders to engage on a deep level with problems of power, interdependency, morality, privilege and commodification across the sector.

During a 20-minute panel presentation at the conference to over 100 participants, we raised questions about negative value, harm, complicity of artists and arts managers with in a fear-driven framework and the urgency to reframe our moral belief systems that inform our work.

The 90min hands-on session at 'Spectres' concluded the first research in action phase of the work, framed as a ‘swap-meet’  creative and interactive workshop. 15 participating artists, arts managers and researchers tested the prototype. We also received great feedback throughout the conference pointing to the need for a typology of harm to support a rigorous debate on value in CACD. Many people started collecting and trading the cards, which were attached to the delegates lanyards. During the conference and the 90-min workshop, we were supported by Michelle Emma James and Ammon Beyerle from here studio, whop joined us to deliver the workshop and engage the punters between sessions.

We see Critical Literacy as an essential tool for CACD practice in a colonial context. How can we name key values of our sector, without jeopardising our standing in the sector? What really informs our narratives, beyond spin and funding speak? This Typology of Harm is Change Media's artistic response to a set of questions we posed after 20 years of highly ‘successful’ glorious failures.

We focus on transparency and equity in our work as artists – negative only in as much as negative space helps us to shape our understanding of that which we struggle to see.

The next phase of the work will investigate applications of the typology across the arts and culture sector and tertiary institutions. We are currently applying for funding from the Australia Council for the Arts, with support from Arts SA and various community, non-arts and  education partners already in place.

 

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