October 17, 2016

Placemaking.

64 Million Artists is a campaign with the bold aim of unlocking human potential using creativity as a tool. We believe that incredible things happen when you activate the inner artist within everyone.

 

We’ve called our project 64 Million Artists as a provocation. It is our contention that there are already 64 Million Artists in the UK. It’s just that many of that number, myself included, sometimes lose that connection with their inner artist. We stop thinking of ourselves as creative.

 

We might have been told at school (as I was) you can’t sing. Or to stop daydreaming or mucking around. Or at work we might be told that ‘it’s not your job to have ideas’ or to ‘get back in our box’. For many of us our creativity remains a dormant superpower – something untapped, hidden from view.

 

So 64 Million Artists is about waking people up to creativity wherever they are. And we encourage that through a deceptively simple process called do, think and share and through this we encourage regular creative activity. A bit like going to the gym, but for your soul.

 

When we support people to think of themselves as creative they say things like – I’m happier at work, I feel like I have a voice, I’m having better ideas. I’m a better team member, a better dad, I’m more me.

 

So the question is how do we to work together to celebrate and reveal that creativity and culture?

 

Well here’s three ways that might be a good start:

 

1. Let’s think about art and culture in its broadest sense. Not just publicly funded arts and culture but all things creative. From guerrilla gardening to experimental hairdressing to making video games. And of course theatre and dance and music too. But not just that stuff. All of it, equally valued, as part of a spectrum of cultural activity.

 

2. Let’s start with what’s already happening in places. Let’s stop thinking about cold spots and places of low provision and start seeing everyone as an artist. There is creativity happening everywhere in the UK. Yes there is inequality and poverty in this country when we use the measures of money or formal cultural provision. But there is richness too, in every place – musicians and writers and dreamers and cake bakers. So let’s start by celebrating what’s already there rather than panicking about what’s not. Let’s champion the brass bands and the grime artists and the felters and the am dram and the pumpkin carvers, alongside the professionals and the existing infrastructure.

 

3. Let’s listen and respond. Let’s not impose or try get people to like something they haven’t ever done before. Let’s not parachute in artists or cultural activity. Instead let’s encourage and support people to do things they have a passion for. Let’s make connections that enable people to develop creative ideas themselves. That’s what 64 Million Artists does. We support processes that let people create their own projects where they live or work. We let people run this stuff themselves and we see what happens. It’s not rocket science.

 

So:
• think about arts and culture in its broadest sense.
• work with what’s already there.
• get people to create their own projects

 

Here’s a quick thought to finish about how we might do that. It really needn’t cost much money. Not in the big scheme of things.

 

Over the next 3 years ACE will invest £1bn in its national portfolio.
That’s a 1000, million pounds.
And over the same period they will invest almost ¼ of a billion through Grants for the Arts.
That’s a total of 1,200 million pounds. 1.2 billion.
And I think that’s great.
Imagine we tried something else as well.
Imagine for a moment that we found 5% of that figure to try something different.

 

Let’s say we employed a network of 1,000 people across the UK to act as cultural connectors. Individuals employed to shine a light on the amazing things that people are already doing, to make connections between groups and individuals, to support creative journeys for people to go on.

 

Let’s say we paid these people £25 grand each a year to do this. That’s 1,000 people, each paid £25k up and down the country to make things happen. That’s at least two people for every local council in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. For less than 5% of the Arts Council’s budget. £25 million a year. Not a huge amount and imagine what might change across the UK? To people’s sense of place? To their sense of belonging? Imagine what might happen to our culture and our place in the world? Imagine.

 

Thank you.