Conversare – the host as social artist

May 29, 2017 |  by  |  Uncategorized

What do you think of the ‘modern’ idea that the role of the artist is to reveal to society a new outlook on life and the world?  And that this role applies to both graphic and social (aka process) artists?


In today’s  complex, busy and often quite fragmented lives there is little opportunity to connect through satisfying conversations other than with people we already know.

Conversare is an experiment to explore what can happen when people take time to come together to experience such connecting in public places in the hands of a host – who is a social artist.

What is the role of the host? To examine this we need to bear in mind the nature and purpose of these gatherings. These are to co-create the context in which all present have rich, lively and enjoyable conversations, primarily with at least one person they do not know, purely for the joy of the encounters. There is also ample scope to mix informally with others.

The purpose is to provide an opportunity for all present to experience this through their active participation.

In order to help achieve this the host does more than welcome people and make them feel comfortable and included. For beyond this the host may be thought to be a ‘social artist.’ By this I mean that the host introduces particular guidelines through which participants come to ‘see’ things differently from what happens in more usual kinds of social gatherings.

This difference can be thought as seeing how to engage, what to say, how to understand the world in ways that were not available to participants by using those skills they already possessed. These ‘new ways’ are to do with consciously treating everyone present with respect, with minimal judgment and categorising anyone present as one of ‘them’ not of ‘us.’

Put another way the expression of the guidelines by the host is an act of artistry which predisposes all present to participate through feeling warmly engaged with those around them even though they may be total strangers.

Among the guidelines for  hosts who set the contexts for  ‘conversations that matter’ at Conversare events are:
1. Our purpose in coming together in this way
This is to experience the human warmth associated with giving to each other in respectful conversation.

2. Whoever comes are the right people.
You are all the right people for whatever will happen here.

 3. Whenever we treat each other with respect good things happen.
Have you ever heard of an exception to this ‘law of life’?

4. We are here to give rather than get.
Which may be thought to be different from what often applies to ‘networking’ events.

5. Nothing is asked of you
Except to participate fully through being curious, questioning and listening carefully to ‘the other’ person with whom you will connect most deeply.

6. Whatever happens here today is co-created by all of us
We all have a contribution to make to the success of the event.

7. When you leave here you may be changed in ways you had not expected
Have a think on this as you go home and later.

Bearing in mind too to think of ‘conversation’ as coming together. Is it a great art for people to come together and openly and honestly search together for better understanding? Is this what conversing is truly about?

Can you appreciate what a difference to the culture of any society could be if there were ‘social artists’ available to enable this kind of experience to be provided for many people in public places in their neighbourhoods?  How may this come about?


Alan Stewart

BookTime to converse – at the heart of human warmth




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