This project was made possible with the kind support of the National Arts Council (Singapore).
The Four Dimensions of Person-centered Arts Practices With Communities
By Dr. Felicia Low
Community Cultural Development (Singapore)
The Social Dimension
The social dimension refers to how an artist ‘does’ community with a group of people and what social effects the artistic process has on the individuals within the group.
The Personal Dimension
The personal dimension is foundational to arts practices with communities. This is because such arts practices have been created in response to the needs of participants of the arts program. The elements of the personal dimension include maturation stages of: Mind-Heart-Body consciousness which leads to self-awareness, self-identity and finally self-realisation.
The Cognitive Dimension
The cognitive dimension, in the context of arts practices with communities, refers to the thinking processes that take place during the act of art-making. Generally, cognition refers to the process of knowledge acquisition through a mental process of thought, experience and the senses. The cognitive process also gives rise to ideas, perception and intuition.
The Cultural Dimension
Culture refers to the forms of behavior, beliefs and abilities that individuals have acquired as members of a society. What is acquired takes on symbolic and cognitive forms of existence within patterns of interaction and power that give shape to social life.
In my journey as a dance therapist, I have pondered the issue of professional boundaries – where does the dance artist end and the dance therapist begin? My inclination in more recent years has veered towards a democratic perspective, recognising the great work community artists – “non-therapists” – can achieve. At the same time, I have been aware that artists working with groups such as I worked with (people with dementia) required something beyond arts skills in order to facilitate inclusive, participatory and life-enhancing activities. Dr. Low addresses this issue exactly. She provides a coherent and impressive theoretical framework to underpin the work of the person-centred arts facilitator and offers practical guidelines for setting up and running arts programs which are sensitive to context (hence “person-centred”). The aim of this book is a thoroughly worthy one in its encouragement to develop arts activities which become, in Dr. Low’s words, “an active means of growth” for the participants. From my personal experience, I also know just how enriching a person-centred approach is for the arts facilitator, which is why the following remark by Dr. Low on the value of working in a person-centred way so resonates with me, for this is “a practice that will never stagnate, never come to a closed conclusion, because communities too never stagnate and come to closed conclusions”.
Dr. Heather Hill, dance movement therapist for over 30 years, now consultant in dance and person-centered practice in dementia.
About The Author
Dr. Felicia Low, a graduate of Goldsmith’s College has been a practicing visual artist and art educator since 1999. A Lee Kong Chian scholar of the National University of Singapore, Felicia obtained a PhD in Cultural Studies in Asia in 2015. She has also developed research and written a pedagogical guide on Person-centred Arts Practices with Communities, with support from the National Arts Council. She continues to work with various social institutions and organisations to conceptualise and coordinate arts programmes and research.
Felicia was the recipient of the Outstanding Youth In Education Award 2005 and was selected for the President’s Young Talent Show 2009 organized by the Singapore Art Museum. She received the Teaching Merit Award from the Singapore University of Social Sciences in 2019. Felicia is the founding director of Community Cultural Dimensions, which aims to provide a critical discursive platform for artistic practices that engage with communities in the region. She is also a part-time lecturer at Lasalle College of the Arts (MA Arts Pedagogies and Practices) and at NTU (BA Public Policy & Global Affairs).