California College of the Arts

”It has to be real projects”. The cornerstone of the Social Practice Programme at California College of the Arts (CCA), is community based projects and real work. We meet Ted Purves, Director of the programme, at CCA and get a tour around the premises. The eight students at Social Practice are part of the Fine Arts department, some classes are also mixed with students from both programmes. The idea behind Social Practice is to work as an artist with social and community projects. To do this CCA cooperate with different organisations and cities. The artists have important competencies that can be used to change a city, to work with municipalities, put view on problems and work in processes, something that the Social Practice put forward. The training also puts emphasis on other skills than the artistic, like managing projects, economy and theoretical knwoledge.

”How do you teach Social Practice?” Ted Purves answers our question and mentions several things. You need to teach different models and methods and teach by doing. Students need to know different methods of how you take collective decisions. And it has to be allowed to fail.

At Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, they run a similar programme called Public Practice. This is also a project based programme and is run by the internationally known artist Suzanne Lacy. Another website we are redommended is


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