Principles, Ethics and Rights

Community Engagement

Case Study

Public Art Collaboration 

Mavis is a local artist and project manager, who has been working with community members from a local Asian traders’ association in Melbourne’s western suburbs. They agree that a collaborative public art project that showcases community members is a good idea, and decide to engage another local visual artist, Hung, to be the lead facilitator. They loosely agree that the works will be shown at a food festival in the coming months. As the outcome date approaches, Mavis has heard rumours that Hung is not happy about the project, and Hung has been slow to reply to emails and communication. How should Mavis proceed?

It is important to establish roles and expectations of the team at the start of the project, including norms for communication, project scope and resourcing. To get the project back on track, Mavis employs good practices for problem solving in community engage projects.

  • Reflection Mavis reflects on the communication with Hung to date, including how the project scope, responsibilities and expectations were established at the start of the project. She considers if there was a shared understanding of the project with Hung.

  • Root cause Mavis avoids making assumptions about the reason, and instead investigates by engaging with Hung directly, using a mode of communication that suits them. When re-establishing the communication, Mavis is clear that their intention is to listen.

  • Advice Mavis also reaches out to networks who have experienced similar challenges for further support. Mavis ensures they actively agree to maintain confidentiality regarding the issue.

  • Change plan After understanding issues or barriers to the project proceeding, Mavis formulates a plan of what should change, and seeks input from Hung and the other collaborators. She determines that the scope of the project needs to be refined, as the project goals were too great for its resources. She also clarifies the project roadmap.

  • Follow up Mavis follows up with all collaborators about the agreed plan forward and seeks their confirmation to ensure there is shared understanding.