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date: 30 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter analyses theories about how social change can be effected through participation in the arts. A theory of change lens applied to the literature results in identification of three broad types of change processes: social/civic action, in which the major change strategy is influencing of public opinion and decision-making through arts activities; the community cultural development approach in which change occurs at a community level, as a result of creative social interaction between arts participants; and finally, the therapeutic paradigm, in which change is elicited in individuals through the healing process of arts used therapeutically. These approaches are examined in relation to broader theories of participation, and Vygotsky’s social development theory, resulting in a meta-theory about factors that lead to change through arts participation: the contribution of a skilled leader, the utilization and stimulation of creativity, and a collaborative process. Case studies of community music initiatives illustrate the theory.

Keywords: arts participation, social change, theory of change, community cultural development, social action, arts therapy, music therapy, community music

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