The most simple definition of community arts would be the following question: How can you do a circle dance (hora) alone?
There are some art forms that acquire their meaning through the participation of a community. These cannot be practiced individually, because they would lose their meaning. The essence of these art forms – without exception – is to collaborate and connect to the state of a group at a certain moment. They are part of the oldest artistic expressions of mankind.
They all share a very wide and welcoming view on human living, developing multiple sides of existence: coordination regarding the individual rythm and the group, vocal and instrumental music, a sense of history and of fine humour, spontaneous and individual improvisation, and last but not least, the feeling of belonging and genuine support of the individuals from the community they are a part of.
Along with the technological evolution, the necessity for direct collaboration between people decreased, as well as the need to self-organize. In this process, in which individuals now interact more often through technology than directly, we experience an atrophy of our fine senses, that were cultivated over thousands of years. Similarly, music and dance have become more and more codified, reproducible. They are now meant to produce financial results rather than a lasting well-being of the community trying to take part. Being denied their potential to guide communities to an elevated state of feeling, artists often became lonely and separated from society, and artistic “production” became more and more like technological production, gradually losing its spontaneity.
Precisely this evolution gradually leads us to a radical, modern and conscious reappraisal of community arts.
The ideas of community arts are closely related to the notion of celebrating, of partying, so closely that we could call them party arts. The holiday or celebration balances the individual within the group perspective: you go to the celebration to reunite with the group you resonate with. Joy is a side effect of connection. The feeling of belonging has proven to be the strongest remedy against almost any kind of abuse, because nothing can bring us greater happiness and satisfaction than to be seen, accepted and loved as we really are.