The Role of Culture in a Brexiting Britain

14 June 2018


Venue: Mountford Estate Community Hall, Cecelia Road, Hackney E8 2HY

Organiser: Mountford Growing Community with Rose Gibbs and Nick Mahony

Rose Gibbs and Nick Mahony are founding members of The Movement for Cultural Democracy. Rose Gibbs is an artist and founder of Mountford Growing Community. Mountford Growing Community - a small community organisation that promotes community cohesion and health in Mountford Estate and the larger Hackney Community through various activities including the creation of a community garden to grow the foods residents use in their cuisines that might not otherwise be easily accessible as well as recipe sharing events, community meals and a summer school for young people in art, VR and design. Nick Mahony - is co-founder of The Movement for Cultural Democracy. Nick is an independent researcher, former Open University academic and coordinator of the Raymond Williams Foundation, which is a charity that supports self-organised education and the long revolution towards participatory democracy. SPEAKERS: Dan Baron Cohen Dan Baron Cohen is a community-based arts-educator and eco-cultural activist from Wales, who lives and works in the Brazilian Amazon city of Marabá. After post-graduate studies in Oxford University, Dan developed collaborative projects with young people in post-industrial and conflicted communities at risk in northern England, South Wales, north of Ireland and South Africa. In 1998, a visiting professorship at the State University of Santa Catarina, southern Brazil, launched collaborations with landless, indigenous, trade-union and university communities in Brazil. Between 1999-2001, Dan coordinated the collective community-based national monuments The Castaheiras of Eldorado dos Carajás (Landless Movement, Amazon), and The Other 500 Years (Indigenous Movement, Bahia), deepening his understanding of pedagogies of transformation. Since then, sustained residencies throughout Brazil have developed performance-based pedagogies of cultural action for social transformation, in collaboration with arts education networks in Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and Europe. These 'transformance’ techniques have been applied to develop community security, teacher education and youth-led advocacy for a paradigm of good living, sustained by solar energy, notably in the Transformance Institute’s current ten-year project in the urban Amazonian community of Cabelo Seco, in Marabá City. The project has won numerous regional, national and international awards. Kevin Green Kevin is the co-founder of the architectural and art association STORE projects, a London-based association of architects, artists and designers composed of three core elements: an educational programme of art and architecture courses, wide-ranging public events and exhibitions, and a socially engaged design practice. STORE aims to facilitate and drive local change within the urban environment, engaging directly with the socio-economic challenges of the 21st century, producing projects and events beneficial to the local community. Kevin graduated from MA Sculpture at the Royal College of Art having previously studied at the Bartlett School of Architecture. Kevin currently teaches on the AIS design module at the Bartlett School of Architecture. Anshu Srivastava Anshu Srivastava is an architect who co-runs the community organisation Bold Vision in South London. Anshu writes: "There are some things which transcend my bio, my black skin, male privilege and hybrid culture come to mind. I was politicised through the Anti-Apartheid Movement, whilst studying to be an architect during the Thatcher years. I founded a design studio and started a family, mostly preoccupied with my own concerns until the Refugee Crisis in 2015 awoke me again to political activism. Alongside architecture, I now co-run a community organising charity in South London and am training to be a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. My commitment to Internationalism, Anti-Capitalism and the unexpected chance of a Corbyn led government encouraged me to vote against our country’s continuing membership of the EU. Moussa Sylla Moussa Sylla is a community organiser at the Selby Trust, a community organisation that brings together a rich mix of individuals and organisations, primarily from BME, refugee and other historically excluded communities in Tottenham, Haringey, North London and beyond. The Selby Trust aims to increase the capacity and sustainability of historically excluded groups in the diverse communities served and to promote and support, directly and through networking, a range of opportunities to enable all communities to achieve economic, social and cultural growth. Moussa Sylla, in partnership with Black Training Enterprise Group have started a pilot for their new project, ‘Ready4Success’, a community led sustainable social enterprise that is built upon and led by community engagement and empowerment.

The art world has never been such a powerful force in the UK as it is now, internationally recognised students from all the world flock to Britain’s art colleges, but the question is, is it a force for good? In spite of this apparent abundance of artistic self-expression, the rise of nationalism and the right reveals that many people are feeling disenfranchised and voiceless. These are battles about culture, cultural identity as well as the future of democratic politics. If culture is part of what is at stake then surely cultural policy has a role to play in countering the divisiveness of the narratives that underpin current political developments? So the question is what can culture do? And how can we cultivate a contemporary culture, together, that is by all and for all?

This discussion will invite key speakers who are working on a grass-roots level to nurture culture in all its manifestations, to overcome toxic cultural hierarchies and realise a society where the resources to make culture are more equitably shared to tell us about the work they are doing. We will then form working groups to map out cultural policies that would build towards a more democratic, equal and more radically inclusive cultural landscape.