Socially engaged arts practice is much misunderstood. Commissioners can be afraid of it when they shouldn’t be, artists can think they do it when they don’t, and bona fide practitioners can find it hard to explain or justify their process when they are doing it.
The Arts Council Mission 5 project approached us to work with a group of socially engaged arts practitioners to try and find a solution for this, helping them communicate what they do and how they do it, to improve understanding, commissions and practice as a result. The important thing was that this piece of communication material exemplified the facets of socially engaged arts practice rather than contradicting them. It needed to be purposeful, powerful, effective, crafted and different all at the same time.
This piece of communication material should exemplify the facets of socially engaged arts practice. It needed to be purposeful, powerful, effective, crafted and different all at the same time.
Working closely with the group, we ran a two day co-discovery workshop where we drilled down into exactly what socially engaged arts practice is and how it works. Using their projects as touchstones, we searched for areas of commonality and areas of difference to identify socially engaged arts practice’s fundamental elements and its unique selling point as a process. Once uncovered, we then built up audience profiles and teased out a metaphor that could work as a vehicle to communicate socially engaged arts practice to people who didn’t yet understand it; climbing.
And so Latch On was born.
Drawing on the metaphor and working up a brand language around it, we wrote captivating copy for a direct mail campaign and website, emulating the beauty and value of socially engaged arts practice in a way that was easy to relate to. Commissioners, potential customers and other practitioners were sent a fold-out carabiner and climbing map with an invitation to visit the website and find out more about socially engaged arts practice and what it can achieve through the projects and activities that have achieved it.