Earlier this year during the edgeryders retreat in Turkey, @alex_levene and I sat down and decided we are going to give the Culture Squad a fair chance: a year to build edge in community art and culture for social change. We do this while looking for a business model that combines network building with meaningful work, as I believe is the strongest lesson that edgeryders as a whole has to offer. Here’s the state of things six months in, as far as I can tell:
We started from the treaded path of culture making in urban spaces, and it opened new ways.
For one, motivated edgeryders members brought their own ideas and asked edgeryders to stand in as the implementing organisation: biggest case in question is that with @matteo_uguzzoni @GotheInstitutAthen @sebquack and others we are starting Trust in Play, an international community school of urban game designers!
Secondly, our track record of working in European Capitals of Culture continues in the background. A few weeks ago, @johncoate, Alex and I hosted a training in community building for Rijeka 2020 (Croatia) and hope to go back for more hands on work.
The latest is that in Timisoara (Romania), we are building a community platform servicing civically minded groups ahead of the city's year of European Capital of Culture in 2021. Thanks to @Val.Muresan @simona.fit and others, we are moving from a consultancy model towards community partnerships, which means that we don't work with the city directly, but with local active groups, and connect them to international counterparts. No more landing and take off after a project please. I like this because it's in sync with the edgeryders direction: to help grow mutually beneficial local communities, with strong local leadership, who learn together and from each other, through a connective layer of technical infrastructure to share resources, knowledge, practices etc (like The Reef in Brussels; OpenVillage in Tunisia; and Blivande in Sweden).
What is in the making? RebelVillage and a research project where we look for collaborators
Ultimately, the Culture Squad is born out of our desire to break new ground in making culture from experiences of communal living and working, with impact. We don’t know yet how this would look like. For sure, it has to do with using our ability to generate deep insights from collective intelligence and online conversation. We know we want to see physical instantiations out of this - the results of interaction made into powerful showcases: residencies and local exchanges, festivals, exhibitions which reach new significance levels because of constantly adding and refining knowledge and aesthetics.
Our first test case for community co-created art is Rebel Village (concept phase) – a collaborative art camp where activists work with artists to create cultural responses to broken politics. It ties with the human rights advocacy work done by partners in Sicily, who with @natalia_skoczylas just submitted a proposal for Creative Europe. It ties with the Edgeryders upcoming PopRebel research on the populism and adds to it renewed social cohesion through community creations. From the feedback we are gathering as we share the concept around the network, it seems that the strongest points are its timeliness (unanimity on this!) and our proven ability to build communities, but we are lacking still a path to show high quality, meaningful cultural works (and artefacts), and claim to impact and fame (!).
Here's where we need help and how others can get involved:
- Join in to explore how edgy activist and or intentional communities (political, climate change, technology, solar punk etc.) can create cultural productions, practices and aesthetics with societal impact. We're already looking at a new, multi-annual in-depth research (Horizon 2020) and have identified a funding call. We can already start with a practical exploration or a workshop together, or maybe you are already working on something that fits? We're game.
- Do you know of experienced cultural organisations or universities who are already studying innovation in artistic productions and societal impact? Drop a line below with advice