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Walking, Talking, Making and Acting: Arts and Social Change Retreat

A diverse mix of delegates gathered in Dartington Hall in Devon (5-7 October) for an inaugural ‘Arts and Social Change’ Retreat, with a focus on Migration. This was Counterpoints Arts ‘first retreat’, so we were experimenting with ways of coming together and collaborating through the arts and with the wider team at Dartington Hall.

From the showcasing of local food and wine, to linking local artists and activists to our programme of performances, screenings, workshops and presentations, we created an integrated ecosystem that helped to plant new partnerships and projects.

It was an uplifting few days largely due to the huge energy and fresh thinking from the Dartington Delegates, who spanned the arts, advocacy, academia, activism, policy and philanthropy.

You’ll see many of the key highlights of our discussions beautifully captured on the Visual Minutes map produced by Julia Scheele from Scriberia. We hope you can use this visual mapping in your own work going forward (see below for accreditation).

Delegates spoke to the most pressing issues facing them with foresight:

  • A clear consensus about the urgency of working in a connected and strategic way across organisations, silos and regions – especially in the light of Post-Brexit challenges.
  • The need to bridge our arts and culture work with advocacy and policy and to find ways to sustain this on-going work and to create a more unified narrative.
  • The need to take a bolder approach to arts commissioning and supporting artists and cultural activists working in a variety of locations.

Counterpoints Arts took a few main points away from the retreat to follow up on:

  • Explore the possibility of making this Arts and Social Change Retreat a recurring event in Dartington, with a view to building a unique and sustainable space for people working in this field to regularly come together to learn, share, network and mobilise around collaborative projects.
  • Work on expanding current networks and bring new players and actors into this wider collaborative and cross-sector discussion (following from our joint conclusion that cross-sector work between artists, cultural institutions, advocates, campaigners, activists, academics and other practitioners is the way forward.
  • Develop new projects and commissions – including with many of you – which will explore different ways of listening carefully to communities of place and reaching out to new, participating audiences;
  • Find ways to enhance support for artists and other practitioners developing work in this field

A special thanks to both Unbound Philanthropy and the Social Change Initiative for their generous support and for making the retreat possible.

We now look forward to continuing our collaborative conversation with Dartington Hall.

Useful Links:

Programme – Dartington 2016

Visual Minutes by Julia Scheele from Scriberia

Images by Jillian Edelstein