Raising the Curtain was The Imagination Network’s first project to integrate academic research with support from the Vancouver Foundation. The following is a short summary of the research approach, goals and outcomes in RTC1.
WHAT IS CBPR?
Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is an approach to research that recognizes the role of the social, cultural, physical and political realities of those living on the margins of the society (Reid, Greaves & Kirby, 2017; Taylor & Ochocka, 2017; Wallerstein & Duran, 2008). In CBPR community members are seen as active agents in shaping and sharing their experiences. CBPR aims to foster inclusion and citizenship and works towards positive social change with rather than for, on, or in community (Ochocka & Janzen, 2014). CBPR utilizes unique partnerships, methodological innovation and community engagement in the creation of knowledge to address issues of importance to community members (Reid et al., 2017; Taylor & Ochocka, 2017; Bocarro & Stodolska, 2013).
CBPR, when used to explore experiences of aging and dementia, can expose unquestioned assumptions about aging, dementia and dementia care and can disrupt dominant systems of power that operate at the individual, organizational and societal levels (Thoft, Pyer, Horsbøl, & Parkes, 2018).
What is CEAP?
Community Engaged Arts Practice (CEAP) can be viewed as a grassroots collaborative partnership between artists and community members. At the heart of the practice is social connection, inclusion, creative expression, shared learning, co-creativity and collaborative cultural creation. The focus is on the journey as much as the outcome during the experience of art making. Why is this practice important? Collaborative artistic expression facilitated by professional artists can provide an accessible medium to amplify, understand, share and celebrate the voice of community members, in particular marginalized populations. Often the artistic outcomes from the practice are celebrated and shared with the community. In our community engaged arts practice with persons with the lived experience of dementia and other older adults, we aim to foster meaningful engagement, self-expression, inclusion, and belonging through co-creativity, collaboration, imagination and art making. Our professional artists come from a broad range of backgrounds in the visual, performing and literary arts – theatre, textiles and costume design, puppetry, videography, photography, music, musical theatre, clowning, song writing – but are connected by their enduring passion and commitment to community engaged arts.
HOW DID WE COMBINE CEAP WITH CBPR?
RTC was a CBPR project guided by the principles of inclusion, participation, and social justice. In RTC we used CEAP to engage with our research participants in meaningful creative processes and to gather research data on the lived experiences of aging and dementia.
CBPR and CEAP share the same fundamental values and commitments. They:
- seek to represent marginalized voices;
- require flexibility, creativity, openness, intuition, analytical and storytelling ability;
- are driven by issues of social justice;
- utilize innovative approaches to engage and mobilize community members
- foster inclusion; and
- work towards positive social change.
Through the combination of CPBR and CEAP, researchers, artists, health care workers and community members engaged in a collaborative process that brought together diverse scientific and artistic perspectives (Hughes & McCormick, 2014).