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Unlocking Doors: Decolonizing the Design of an Art Exhibition in Zimbabwe

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Participatory event design opens up opportunities for the sustainable transformation of a community and can therefore make a valuable contribution to the field of critical event studies. This article discusses the findings from a participatory action research project developed with a community of visual artists in Zimbabwe. The project explored how participatory event design processes could be applied to the cocreation of an art exhibition that would be used as a platform to challenge the oppressive environment Zimbabwean visual artists are working in. The design of special events in the third sector is usually reliant on the voice of the specialist event designer or organizer who is commissioned by the funding or lead agency to develop an event intervention using risk-averse and time-efficient methods. Unfortunately, this can result in in the community of interest having a marginalized role in the proceedings and thus they lose a much-needed connection with the event intervention and are not committed to sustaining the desired change. We argue that there is an opportunity for events professionals to increase their skills and develop emancipatory approaches that will decolonize established event design processes and contribute to the sustainable transformation of marginalized communities.
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Keywords: CRITICAL PEDAGOGY; DECOLONIZATION; PARTICIPATORY EVENT DESIGN; ZIMBABWE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 13, 2018

This article was made available online on September 26, 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "UNLOCKING DOORS: DECOLONISING THE DESIGN OF AN ART EXHIBITION IN ZIMBABWE".

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  • Event Management, an International Journal, intends to meet the research and analytic needs of a rapidly growing profession focused on events. This field has developed in size and impact globally to become a major business with numerous dedicated facilities, and a large-scale generator of tourism. The field encompasses meetings, conventions, festivals, expositions, sport and other special events. Event management is also of considerable importance to government agencies and not-for-profit organizations in a pursuit of a variety of goals, including fund-raising, the fostering of causes, and community development.
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