This post is my proposal for a dream track at #lote5 on how creative industries, and cultural practitioners, can contribute towards identifying and fixing the #failures that result in individuals choosing paths towards authoritarianism and violent extremism. In Europe and elsewhere. It is a sketch so far and can only be realised with your help. So please be generous with your comments and help me to reach out to others who might find this interesting or relevant. Here goes!
A year ago I was invited to do a talk at a creative industries event called Improving Reality . In my talk I presented two areas where I believe cultural practitioners can really play a large role: countering the rise of authoritarian movements in our societies, as well as helping to bridge the gaps between need for making a living and need for meaning. It is my belief that the poverty of imagination and access to working models for how people can sustain themselves (psychosocially as well as economically) is what creates a vacuum free for authoritarian leaders and to fill with whatever empty promises they like.
Innovation is supposedly much needed and sought after in response to systemic crises. Change very often happens at the edges of what is deemed acceptable - culturally and legally speaking. Even though this initial input is needed by the mainstream in order to adapt, our societies seem to be moving towards increasingly authoritarian cultures.
The ability to use innovation against systemic crises is limited by the ability to shape new understandings of value, meaning, and work. It is also limited by our ability to influence how politics is done (and our understanding of where democratic participation takes place outside of designated spaces for political participation). Because everything is defined in relation to work, responding to global systemic crises boils down to coming up with new ways of bridging the growing gap between the need to make a living and the need to create meaning.
Culture can be an effective carrier signal for deeper changes in a community(see this post about Edgeryders involvement in the bid). It is also very cheap in comparison to other kinds of intervention.
Possible "big" questions for this track:
1. Can we find examples/cases where others have succeeded in creating protected spaces for radical experimentation that could resist authoritarian attacks?
2. Can we find examples/case of socially and economically self-sustaining contexts/projects/spaces for this kind of experimentation?
If we could find people who have driven or know about examples to present, then we could have a really meaningful discussion around how cultural production is understood, valued and resourced.
Possible threads to bring together:
1. Once you are on board with the thinking- how does that actually translate into the shaping of effective policies and investments, what lessons can be learned from previous efforts? To the best of my knowledge this requires the administrative plumbing to allow for new ways of doing things Do we know of civil servants who have managed to make this happen?
Bob Palmer is someone from whom I think we could learn ALOT about this, especially what doesn’t work, don’t you think @noemi?
Also, @caroline has both a lot of experience and a wealth of contacts- e.g. people who participated at Politics for Tomorrow (loved Jesper’s and Marlieke’s presentations, also Philippe’s about the hand book for mayors in Austria). Would love to hear you synthesise what you have learned from the work of looking into this Caroline?
Edgeryders co-produced a relevant book project with the current Swedish minister of Nordic cooperation and Future Issues. It is clear that the work we did together has had an impact on how she is interpreting her ministerial role (see this Vice interview with Kristina, see my summary of Edgeryders contributions here, ping @inge re older posts). @kiravde know of anyone who could be contacted about this in Belgium (remember email invitation for hanging out on saturday? look up Pieter who is cc:Ed and maybe ask for contacts a la Flamande)? Also I suggest Peter De Smedt at JRC, very actively engaged and may know some people.
2. Do we know of grassroots/bottom up spaces that have managed to make this happen? E.g. one of the key obstacles to sustainability of creative initiatives, and the individuals who drive them, are the lack of access to permanently affordable spaces for living and working in urban environments.
- Elizabeth from Princessinengarten and I had a long conversation about how to connect with protagonists of experimental initiatives @ecl and build something together that makes it work their while (PS: Elisabeth, glömde förresten berätta att jag följt upp och hittat en utlysning som vi kunde söka tillsammans inför detta…talas vid snart? deadline i december!!).
@kiravde it may be worthwhile to get in touch with people from different grassroots/independent spaces, Belgian foundations and local/European institutions who could contribute to this track?
Also @matteo_uguzzoni I know you have been doing some work that us relevant to this. Perhaps you could do a session? Perhaps there is someone whom you would like to have a conversation/possible collaboration or support from around this?
I was approached by Jon Pratty (Arts Council England) and someone from the British Council who’s card I have maned to lose after the talk at improving reality. Could do a follow up with them if you like?
Phew, ok that’s it for now