How is creative expression and communication extended among whole populations? What is the social and cultural value of this activity? What roles do formal agencies, community based organisations and content producer networks play? Specifically, how do participatory media and arts projects and networks contribute to building this capacity in the contemporary communications environment?
Community Uses of Co-creative Media (CCM) sought to better understand connections between community cultural development and media systems, and to explore their role in supporting Australian communities to engage in the creation of digital media. A core hypothesis of the research was that a range of sectors – community broadcasting, Indigenous broadcasting, community arts, cultural development, and community and activist networked media – share a historical commitment to using “bottom up approaches” to build community-based knowledge of media in ways that can broadly be described as “co-creative”.
A related hypothesis was that these sectors are important experimenters, innovators and facilitators of participatory digital media culture in rapidly changing media and communication environments, and that this capacity is underpinned by the use and adaptation of CCM methods. A systematic approach to understanding this work of these sectors would provide a useful foundation for thinking about potential development pathways.
This research began with the decision to investigate how key people in these sectors could be brought together to exchange accumulated but dispersed knowledge of the drivers, impediments, impacts and potential of digital media for broadening and deepening the possibilities of media participation through creative expression. This was achieved in the first instance by successfully partnering with a range of industry-based organisations to seek Australian Research Council support for this research.
The Industry Partners to this research, and the extensive community arts and media networks they represent, have considerable investments in CCM. They wanted to know more about the appeal of CCM techniques and methods to communities and the ways in which communities made use of them to tell their stories, digitally.
The university researchers wanted to know how this activity helps to build storytelling capacity on a population-wide basis. We wanted to explore a proposition from evolutionary economics, that storytelling can be understood as a social practice as well as an individual capacity. We wanted to explore the ways contemporary storytelling practices help to generate novel contributions to social change through creative expression and use of communications media.