A pilot engagement project in spring/ summer 2023
In April 2023, Artsadmin launched a new engagement project which brought together seven people who lived, worked or studied in Aldgate, Whitechapel, Spitalfields or the City of London to co-design and participate in our biannual festival of art, climate and community – What Shall We Build Here.
Community Climate Champions was designed to connect different communities in this part of east London with each other, welcome new people to Artsadmin and build a wider conversation on the impact of the Climate Crisis in this area. It also set out to explore how co-curation and creativity can be tools within change-making and the importance of gathering different perspectives, outlooks, and voices to unite in the same conversation. Working with individuals from the hyperlocal community is a vital part of Artsadmin’s programming, enabling us to hear new perspectives, opinions and voices.
The callout went out in May and was promoted via local networks, a local print campaign, and social media. From the 31 responses received, seven Community Climate Champions were selected through three key criteria: their connection to the local areas of Aldgate, Whitechapel, and City of London; their level of interest in the arts; and their relationship to climate issues in their local community. The intention was to build a group with a diverse range of perspectives.
Meet the Community Climate Champions
Steve lives, works, learns, and raises his children in Tower Hamlets. He is connected to community groups and fascinated by the history of the city and surrounding area. As a printmaker, the diversity of people and geography are often a source of inspiration in his practice.
“I am raising my children to be aware of the impact they can have in relation to the climate crisis. – I have little or no influence directly on the corporate and political destruction taking place worldwide. This can lead to a sense of powerlessness, but I think it is important to remember that we can all take small steps to make a big change.”Steve
Georgina moved to London in 2019 and is studying Interior Architecture and Design at London Metropolitan University. Georgina believes that using the tools available to you to educate yourself is the best way that knowledge can be shared with others and that spaces of creative community can bring forward innovative ideas. Georgina is interested in how the climate conversation influences her creative practice and focuses on making conscious, informed and sustainable decisions in her approaches to design.
Leah is a City of London resident and is deeply involved in conversations about the Climate Crisis in both her work and personal life. As a resident, professional and parent, Leah values the importance of using their voice to add to the wider perspective on the Climate Crisis. She sees the urgency of Black and Brown people being part of these conversations and recognises that structures have not traditionally centred their voices.
Manuel studied an MSc in Environment and Development at London School of Economics in 2019-2021, at which point he lived in the Spitalfields area. He now works with a community owned solar project in the Aldgate area and is involved in Climate Change conversations, particularly in relation to renewable energies and how they can play a role in ensuring that no community is left behind.
David is connected to the local area mostly through his work with COR creative mentorship, where he is a volunteer mentor for students underrepresented in the arts. Many of their events and workshops take place in arts spaces in Aldgate, Spitalfields and Whitechapel. David’s art practice is centred around education, through both self-educating and redistributing knowledge and learning with his communities.
“Climate change disproportionately affects those in the Global South, meaning my family back home, I have a vested interest in people understanding how devastating the effects can be for countries outside of the UK. Many feel the effects of warmer summers here, but do not see the natural catastrophes in other countries like Mozambique or Haiti as they aren’t reported on. Yet, these are largely provoked by us, as the global North is responsible for over 90% of global emissions, this is known as Climate Colonialism, and I want to make sure that this often-neglected topic has a seat at the table.”David
Tuba is currently attending London Metropolitan University, where she studies Graphic Design. This area of London has recently become her home for the next few years, and she believes in the importance of community and the power of collective engagement to learn about and improve issues that affect all of us.
Yasmin was born and raised in Tower Hamlets and is now based in Whitechapel. She is passionate about local community, especially as a Bangladeshi person. Yasmin sees creative expression and artistic projects as her tools for change and uses these methods within her artistic and professional practice, to articulate social issues impacting her local area. She sees the importance of accessible community education around Climate Change and thinks it is vital for conversations to be made more inclusive, particularly for people who have experienced financial hardship and/or that are of global majority backgrounds.
The Community Climate Champions worked together for a six week period. Their first workshop in June was an introductory session with artist Zoë Laureen Palmer, where they started to explore the question “What Shall We Grow Here?,” considering what biodiversity exists and can be built in the area around Toynbee Studios.
Another session was led by Dr. Malaika Cunningham, artistic director of The Bare Project, who brought their outdoor pavilion The People’s Palace of Possibility to What Shall We Build Here. The Community Climate Champions worked with Malaika to develop a radio show for The Palace Radio Station. Each of the Champions selected a question from the installation and chose a track that they felt connected to their prompt. Questions included: How do we build community? How do you decide when to obey authorities and when not to?
During the festival, the Champions took part in a shared conversation on The Palace Radio. They played their playlist of chosen tracks and talked through how these linked to the Palace Questions that they had chosen. They also co-led a public workshop in the Artsadmin Canteen with Zoë, titled What Shall We Grow Here? – where participants were invited to a space of growing, tea tasting, chatting, collaging and thinking, all in response to ideas of biodiversity and community. Zoë’s canteen residency biome: experiments in radical kinship grew from this workshop and continues until summer 2024.
The final session took place in early July, when the Community Climate Champions came together for an evaluation and reflection conversation with Artsadmin Engagement Producer, Maya Kincaid.
This pilot engagement project experimented with embedding co-curation into the engagement strategy of Artsadmin’s festival model, and allowed us to research and develop our approaches to building connections with our hyperlocal communities. The outreach started with a Community Breakfast event in May, where local people and organisations were invited into Toynbee Studios to hear more about our work and the Community Climate Champions opportunity.
This methodology of starting community building by inviting people to share in food, creativity, and conversation and to meet with Artsadmin’s team and other potential participants, is a key part of Artsadmin’s ongoing engagement strategy. In exchange for their time, energy and unique perspectives, the seven Community Climate Champions were each paid a fee of £300, and given free tickets to What Shall We Build Here events.
The Community Climate Champions project was supported by Aldgate Connect BID and the City of London Corporation
|17 October – 11 December 2023||biome: forrest|
|1 July 2023||What Shall We Grow Here?||Artsadmin Canteen, Toynbee Studios||What Shall We Build Here|
|28 June – 2 July 2023||What Shall We Build Here||Various locations:|
|8–12 September 2021||What Shall We Build Here||Various locations:|