Collaboration and co-design can bring together the best creative input from different sources and can be the foundation of renewed inspiration, unexpected ideas and transformative works. Key to a healthy collaboration are material actions such as fair pay and resource distribution.
There are also some collaborations that can generate bad feelings and do damage – the opposite of what was intended.
Broadly speaking, collaboration is a form of relationship where both parties benefit from mutual work – and control and resources are shared between participants. It aligns with a more collectivist, communal and interdependent way of working, often practised by First Nations peoples and other cultural groups.
A healthy collaboration is underpinned by honesty, trust and reflexivity. By having open communication and examining the power dynamics underpinning our collaborations, the relationships between people and groups involved can become more equitable. Working collaboratively, reflecting on and mitigating power dynamics, and being engaged in dialogue, builds foundations for a longer term and more sustainable relationship.
This collection of resources also critically shows how collaborations and co-creation projects sometimes fail the communities they intend to empower, and suggests frameworks for doing it better.
Key to working better with First Nations, people of colour, refugees, migrants, cultural and ethnic minorities and other marginalised groups are the values of:
- Valuing consent and respecting intellectual property
- Allowing for self-determination
- Active reciprocation and a culture of reciprocity
- Acknowledging and mitigating power imbalances
- Respecting the land, practices and ancestry of First Nations people
- Understanding what, within the current limits of the systems we find ourselves in, a decolonized approach to your project might look like.