Understanding grassroots arts groups and practices in communities

Hilary Ramsden, Jane Milling, Robin Simpson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter contributes to a book that focuses exclusively on ‘below the radar’ or third sector activities (informal and semi-formal community activities and groups that operate outside the formal regulatory bodies for the sector and do not, therefore, appear on the databases of, for example, the Charity Commission). The book is the first of its kind to collate knowledge from leading academics, activists, policymakers and practitioners to develop a coherent understanding of the sector and develop a synthesis that can help underpin and drive future research and evidence-based policy agendas. Based on primary research the chapter highlights the under-researched nature of community arts activity and, in particular, addresses the gaps in gaps in the current literature and contentious questions relating to our knowledge of amateur or grassroots arts activities.

The chapter contributes a number of elements to new knowledge within both the third and arts sectors, that:
•the amateur and informal arts sector has tended to be characterised by its economic difference from the professional or subsidized art worlds.
•the hierarchical structures of cultural value continue to evolve a pejorative view of the informal arts sector.
•much of the current discourse around the amateur arts sector is characterised by a focus on social benefits and impacts drawn from a social capital model.
•this focus overrides other, more diverse avenues that might be explored around aesthetic participation itself, the idea of experience and questions of aesthetics.

The book chapter contributes new understandings in the fields of arts administration, arts policy, social policy, social and community work. It provides a current, cutting-edge, resource for academics and students on a range of undergraduate, post-graduate and professional programmes including Arts Administration, Social Policy, Research Methods, Public Health and Youth and Community Work, where there is currently a dearth of rigorous materials on community groups and activities in theory, policy and practice. Additionally it provides a distinctive first attempt to draw together and problematize the broad reach of amateur arts activities throughout the UK.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCommunity Groups in Context
Subtitle of host publicationLocal activities and actions
EditorsAngus McCabe, Jenny Phillimore
Place of PublicationBristol, UK
PublisherPolicy Press
ISBN (Print)978-1447327776
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2017

Publication series

NameThird Sector Research Series
PublisherPolicy Press


  • social sciences
  • amateur arts
  • theatre and performance
  • theatre practice
  • community art
  • community engagement


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