'Now someone like me finds me': Gift Exchange and Reciprocity in Community Arts at Bankstown Youth Development Service

Joanna Winchester


The relationship between artist and participant is central to community arts. It is the nature of this relationship that defines the art form and distinguishes it from mainstream artistic practice. Participation, access, engagement and collaboration are keys to this successful relationship and are concepts that have been identified as integral to the practice throughout the development of community arts (Hawkins, 1993). Theorising community arts through the lens of gift exchange is one way to examine the uniqueness of the artist and participant relationship and its capacity to build community through artistic and social exchanges. Artistic relationships between participants in community arts may be built over years and decades of practice, and the case study organisation presented in this article, Bankstown Youth Development Service, is one example of how career trajectories are developed through community arts. This case study shows that there is a distinct need for more longitudinal studies and evaluations of community artists and organisations, as they offer an illuminating view of the value and effects of community arts beyond immediate economic, artistic or social outcomes.



community arts, gift exchange, community cultural development, evaluation, Bankstown Youth Development Service (BYDS)

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Asia Pacific Journal of Arts and Cultural Management; ISSN 1449-1184
© University of Melbourne