‘The campaign could be the start of a revolution…’ Sandy Mahal from The Space
Today our online home, Everyone an Artist, Everyone a Scientist, launches. We have been working with The Space, a new online platform for digital arts supported by Arts Council England and the BBC, to bring the vision for the site to life. Sandy Mahal, Director at The Space, tells us more about what the project means to them.
Having come to The Space from the world of libraries, reading and writing, I am a passionate believer in the life-enhancing power of arts and literature, and I care deeply about the democratisation of arts and culture. The Space is an ambitious online platform for artists to create something remarkable, and we’re sharing the experiment freely and as it happens with audiences from around the world. We are fostering some amazing collaborations to help bridge the gap between art and technology, to bring these worlds even closer together and see the concept of digital art being challenged. We’ve only started to imagine what we could do creating and distributing great art alongside supporting the very best in digital innovation. We are urging all artists to aim higher, think bigger and be bolder in pushing boundaries – handing the baton of power to the artists who can think and create beyond anything we can imagine.
Central to the success of The Space is the development of a new audience for the most exciting digital art – we want more people having more cultural experiences through digital art. And that’s why we are delighted to be working in partnership with Stella and Sarah-Jane to revive Joan Littlewood’s idea of a ‘Fun Palace’ – a community-run, free space for people to explore the arts and sciences. We’re helping them explore the creative possibilities of digital in an environment that encourages experimentation and exploration. This is not about simply relying on live-streaming or any other well-worn technological initiatives – we can do this already. This is about finding and clearing out new and uncharted territories of the arts: an ambition we should all aspire to for the sake of increasing access and widening arts participation out to all.
Fun Palaces festival is an explosion of people coming together around creativity, enabling them to deepen and strengthen relationships to become present in their communities, become active citizens online, and access the personal power that comes when you engage with art, science and culture – it’s essential to being part of society and that means Fun Palaces need to reach everyone. Stella brilliantly talks about ‘equality of online presence’, which allows all Fun Palace makers to have the same online representation.
It seems Fun Palaces is increasingly satisfying our hunger for live cultural experiences, and for communal experiences, too – a powerful fusion. This sociability is being fuelled by fascinating new blends of on and off line cultural experiences, leading to the formation of the Fun Palaces website – a place where everyone can access and share their cultural experiences with others. What’s more, this is leading to a huge engagement with people who perhaps wouldn’t normally engage with online experiences, or art for that matter, but care enough about their community to want to go online and discover new conversations. This has been further stimulated by the introduction of the Fun Palace’s Digital Champion – someone whose role is to help break down barriers and narrow the gap between the digital rich and poor. Inspiring people to become more digitally literate can only lead to a greater engagement with art online.
We have seen from the fantastic take-up so far that Fun Palaces is fast becoming a driving force in inspiring creativity. The campaign could be the start of a revolution, where Fun Palaces become the ultimate community enabler, a potent symbol of collective people power and civic pride. How wonderful and how proud we are, as a democratising supporter of free art on the Internet, working alongside Fun Palaces to ensure everyone can benefit from the arts.
Sandy Mahal, Director, The Space