In an overgrown backyard sits a table and chair. The table is full of colourful objects that could be found in a work desk.
Caitlin Kozman, ‘hysteria’, 2020, digital photograph


Artists are change agents, agitators, activators – of spaces, places and people. As change agents, today’s artists often work within other frameworks and systems, questioning power dynamics and often leading from the ground. Arts management and leadership can benefit from the knowledge of other systems of engagement.

Peer education – most notably intentional peer modalities of communication – expand individual and collective emotional intelligence, capacity and the ability to deeply listen, thus transforming the self and others. This research has used peer education to interview artists in a semi-structured interview with intentional communication techniques. The artists interviewed within this research share their individual path to a creative life. They do not identify as people with a lived experience, however the researcher does.

The artists share everyday challenges and philosophies behind what art making means to them, guided by peer methods of interaction. This research demonstrates that grass-roots activism of the lived experience (peer) workforce has elements which are needed in an arts managers practice to transform the collective. The findings demonstrate that within their everyday, artists are engaging in reflecting on reflection. This kind of reflection is integral to the practice of peer work which aims to support collective transformation.

Peer workers are adept at supporting people with the traumas inherent in the intersectional nature and diversity of the human condition. Artists use reflection as a way of interrogating concepts and reaching for change, deconstructing the intersections, questioning and imbedding those concepts within their practices. Artists and the peer workforce are catalysts for collective development. Peer methods demonstrated in this research are a recommended addition to arts manager practice toolkits.



Caitlin Kozman (she/her) is a mental health lived experience (peer) practitioner and an Australian contemporary artist. Her experience in the mental health system has shown Caitlin the need for alternate models of care for people experiencing mental distress.

Kozman’s knowledge of Peer Work has led her to coordinating new programs, facilitating art workshops, working in outreach support and advocating for peer-led suicide prevention spaces. Kozman’s recent group exhibition was a collaboration with Liam Benson exhibited at Wollongong Art Gallery (2022). Kozman exhibited at the Queensland Centre for Photography (2013), has had solo shows at Gaffa Creative Precinct, Sydney (2018), Canberra Contemporary Artspace Manuka (2017) and M16 Artspace, Canberra (2016). Kozman’s work was chosen for exhibition at the National Museum of Australia (2012).

Kozman was awarded a Lived Experience Workforce Scholarship (2022). She also has a Bachelor of Visual Arts with Honours (2016), a Certificate IV in Peer Work (2019), and a Diploma of Mental Health (2020).

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Caitlin Kozman
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