What is "the good" of arts-based peacebuilding? Questions of value and evaluation in current practice
Hunter, MA and Page, L, What is "the good" of arts-based peacebuilding? Questions of value and evaluation in current practice, Peace and Conflict Studies, 21, (2) pp. 117-134. ISSN 1082-7307 (2014) [Refereed Article]
In a context of growing attention to the benefits of the arts in peacebuilding, this article
reports on the findings of a small scoping study that aimed to identify how the arts are
perceived and supported by international development agencies. Based on a 2012 analysis of
five international aid agencies working in the South East Asia and Pacific region, the study
found that arts and creative practices are not, as yet, afforded a significant role in current
policy or strategy, although arts activity is recognised as a social development tool by
agencies working in partnership with local organisations. Resulting from an analysis of
participating agenciesí publicly available documentation, and interviews with staff, arts
practitioners and volunteers working in field-based arts projects, this article argues that the
value of arts-based interventions in peacebuilding and development is yet to be fully realised.
Bringing field experience as well as policy and research backgrounds to the analysis, the
authors consider why this might be the case and pose broader questions about the
communication, role and influence of evaluation as one factor in this. They argue for a better
acknowledgment of the diverse applications and implications of the "use" of the arts within
complex social, political, and cultural systems by linking this call with evaluation
methodologies that may better reveal the ways in which such projects "raise possibilities"
rather than "confirm probabilities." This article suggests a four-question schema for
augmenting the documentation and evaluation of arts-based work to more authentically
capture "the good" that may arise from the emergent nature of artmaking itself.