Blog: What do we put in city centres when all the shops go online? Artists.

Herefordshire artists

// by Sarah-Jane Crowson

The World Economic Forum (2019) recently discussed the need to invest in people to prepare for an increasingly automated world where 75 million jobs are due to be displaced by 2022.  At the same time, 133 million jobs - some we haven’t yet heard of - will be created (Future of Jobs report, 2019). Jobs that if we can imagine we might create.

Handily, the RSA has set out four potential future scenarios to help us imagine the future. But, it is one thing to read and reflect on possibilities, another to consider what ordinary life might look like within them.

Enter artists.

It’s well researched that artists have potential to innovate, bringing with them a deep focus on people, community, and society.

It’s well researched that what the WEF call ‘artist innovators’ add economic and social value to wider agendas. But, to do so they need a safe space to work from. And there needs to be the opportunity to engage in creative conversations.

There’s a power in the small scale discussion-space; creative happenings can seed ideas and bring people together. Recently, the Canary-ride opened up different perspectives of Hereford's past - offering the chance to explore a critical feminist understanding of Rotherwas which can be taken forwards as a re-storying to change our futures. Pop-ups like collaborative writing events offer opportunities for artist-innovators to explore the 'real and imagined'.

Plus, non-urban spaces bring with them different ways of innovating. In Herefordshire, the openness of green brings with it possibilities for alternative way of thinking. Consider a hedge as a boundary - a living dwelling-space, flexible, full of life, changing constantly. Then consider a concrete wall.

If we, in Hereford, can create spaces for creatives living amid the rural to participate in dialogue and discussion, we also create spaces for critical imaginings - and with that a potential to explore and share future scenarios from a different, non-urban perspective - for dreaming up ideas that could transform our futures.

Sarah-Jane is a published poet and the Scholarship and Enterprise Development Manager at Hereford College of Arts. She is a firm believer in the power of creative education to transform individual futures and society. Previously she worked on a national HEFCE-funded project (The AoC Scholarship Project) and prior to that she lectured in Critical Studies at HCA.

She is currently working towards her PhD, which critically investigates the place, space and practice of higher level creative arts and crafts education. In the last few years she has presented her work at various conferences, including the HEA ‘Inspire’ Conference in Brighton, the SEDA conference in Manchester and the AOC HE Research and Scholarship Conference.

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