Community of Practice

In March 2020 a feasibility study for a Rural Art Network in Scotland brought together QMU and UHI researchers and 10 Rural Arts Organisations for an initial 1-day scoping event. The concept of a “Community of Practice” (Lave and Wenger 1991) was discussed and identified as a central need for the growth and development for Rural Arts.

The Community of Practice (CoP) concept is a ‘theory of learning’ but also ‘knowledge management’ and was identified as a central gap in the future development of Rural Arts Organisations and their staff (and therefore their ability to provide for their communities). For a CoP to develop, it requires three main elements

1) Mutual Engagement: this occurs when collaborative relationships are established and are essential to bind members together as a social entity;

2) Joint Enterprise: sometimes referred to as the domain of community, these enterprises develop via social interactions where they create a shared understanding of what binds them together;

3) Shared Repertoire: in working together, the community produces a set of communal resources which are used in the pursuit of their joint enterprises (both socially and professional)

As such, the pilot group identified the lack of a Community of Practice which – if properly nurtured – could help Rural Arts Organisations (and their staff) to be able to work more effectively in addressing the localised problems, and thus be able to work more effectively with their communities in addressing shared issues.