(BEING CONTINUED FROM 21/09/2017)
VIRTUE, RESPONSIBILITY, BENEFIT:
THE ETHICAL VALUES OR LENSES PROPOSED BY IFACCA .
• A virtue – or ‘freedom’ – ethic focuses on issues of freedom in art and culture;
on freedom of self ‐expression and the autonomy of art.
It views creativity and art as intrinsically valuable and therefore legitimate goals in themselves.
• A responsibility – or ‘rights’ – ethic relates to the cultural interests and identities of communities and groups,
working in the context of cultural traditions, and the realization of cultural rights.
This involves accessibility, availability and provision, participation and inclusion.
• A corollary – or ‘benefit’ – ethic can see creativity as a tool,
focusing attention on the application of arts practice in complex social and economic contexts.
It’s also applicable to industrial spheres for e.g. the protection of intellectual property,
contractual relations with employers and funders.
o How might practice use these ethical lenses?
o The positions indicated under each category are not mutually exclusive and a piece of work might combine more than one.
The corollary lens, for example,
could combine with both the other two to look at the relationship between creative arts work and social or political intervention.
o The lenses, with their underpinning in human rights,
point up those issues of ‘inclusion’ and ‘marginalization’ which PT continually addresses and critiques.
What is the work aiming at in any particular context, what drives it?
The value of these lenses is derived from their relationship to the REF set out above,
and to the Core Principles elaborated below.10
STAGE 3: CORE PRINCIPLES CHOICE, EQUALITY, RESPECT, SAFETY, COMPETENCE.
This stage, during which continual reference to the Radical Ethical Framework and Values stages will be made,
is intended to narrow the focus onto a set of working concepts which both connect with,
and challenge, current ideas of ‘good practice’ in the political and social spheres.
The research workshop process revealed that the CorePrinciples are resonant with meanings that may be obfuscated by institutional over‐use of these terms: exploration revealed that many meanings cluster around the words, and shift according to context,
individual interpretation and institutional context. 11
In terms of the Radical Ethical Framework,
these principles may emerge as a challenge to and a questioning of legal and institutional concepts of ‘good practice’ and of research ethics.
The principles were developed in the context of work with complex and vulnerable groups for Oval House,
London, by Stella Barnes, their Head of Education and collaborator in this project.
Under prevailing codes of practice, notions of safety, for example,
tend to default to limiting or preventing physical risk, emotional risk, or touching,
They are there to often to protect against legal action and facilitator incompetence,
amongst other things. In arts and theatre practice, on the other hand,
risk is an accepted element in group and individual development,
both in personal and creative forms.
Group work involving physical activity and touching is regarded as standard.
However, what kind of risk is being alluded to?
Does it conflict with the statutory position on risk or not?
Similarly, Respect may conventionally be seen as excluding Challenge,
an element of the Radical Ethical Framework, while Choice,
in the context of Participatory Theatre working situations,
can be provoking and provocative for all involved, owing to imbalances in power relationships,
and to agendas being set by commissioners rather than by artists or participants.
Asking the questions Who,What etc (below)
will help to clarify what’s needed and what the CorePrinciples might mean in a specific context:
a group of learning disabled people may require a different approach to a group of railway workers, for example.
Acceptance of gender inequality in ‘vulnerable’ or ‘marginalized’ groups raises specific issues of practice.
Inherent in all group work are issues of power:
relations between facilitator and group are especially complex and change as process develops.
3.2: NOTES ON CORE PRINCIPLES:
CHOICE, EQUALITY, RESPECT, SAFETY, COMPETENCE.
With reference to the Radical Ethical Framework and Values,
it is helpful to reflect on what competence actually is. Is it a state of being or of becoming?
It is certainly a key to exercising useful judgment.
During research it emerged that becoming competent is an incremental process.
At its centre is reflection and reflexivity: a new practitioner who reflects, questions,
learns from mistakes and successes and moves on is developing competence.
The skills and knowledge grow with practice and in combination constitute the means whereby practitioners develop their praxis.
The following is a cluster of capacities relating to Competence proposed after consultation
• As an artist, developing and consolidating knowledge of theatre and its potential and how to work in and hold the theatre space.
• Learning from and reflecting on experience, and developing honest useful knowledge and self ‐awareness of own capacities and limits at any stage.
• Learning especially from mistakes.
• Working to develop personal skills in reflection and transmitting these to others.
• Developing, valuing and understanding your range and repertoire of strategies and working practices at each stage of working life.
• Developing the ability to exercise judgment in relation to work process by developing a systematic and imaginative approach to analyzing the work,
its context and key factors.
• Increasing ability to question and to take working decisions with flexibility and creativity.
• Understanding the implicit contract between yourself and those you are working with.
• Acquiring knowledge of Equalities, Health and Safety and other legislation and of accepted good practice.
• Working to gain analytical rigour and imaginative freedom.
• Developing ethical skills in negotiating, planning and contracting with employers to support both the working situation and yourself as a professional.
Competence here is both an ethical principle (an incompetent practitioner in a complex situation is unacceptable),
and a necessary bridge between theory,
principles and practice.
3.3 THE CORE PRINCIPLES.
Having considered Competence at some length, it is worth pointing to the ambiguities that might
surround the other Core Principles.
Questioning of the Core Principles is appropriate, not least because there are socially received notions about what they might mean, and these notions may have to be challenged;
this is especially true in places where control and repression are practised, such as old people’s homes, prisons, and young offenders’ institutions. It is important to take into account the civic context in which the work might take place.
For example, in 1960s and 1970s Brazil, the coup of 1964 and continuing opposition to state repression
and violence generated Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed with its penetrating analysis of power and oppression.12
Recently, Professor James Thompson13 has written about the ethical questions raised during work in the Sri Lankan war zone.
Both Theatre for Development work and local UK work with groups experiencing injustice or coming from sexist,
lawless and oppressive regimes, can raise particular political and ethical issues.
Judgment and skills are needed in these contexts, but trial and error are also part of the process.
The meaning of Choice, for example, has to be carefully considered in a prison where choice is restricted:
what role can theatre play in explicitly or implicitly confronting the issue?
What happens when the practitioner’s perception of ‘choice’ differs from that of the authorities?
How might the REF influence decisions?
What role does Safety have, how does it affect notions of Equality?
In what way would the decisions change in, say, a community centre or a school?
(TO BE CONTINUED)
FRANCES RIFKIN / 2010
10 Stella Barnes
11 See Introduction
12 See TaPRA presentation for Rustom Bharucha on ‘the civic’
13 Professor of Applied and Social Theatre, University of Manchester