Artivism, local creative spaces, and social-ecological transformation from the bottom up

Donnerstag (21. September 2023), 16:30–18:00
SH 1.104
Philipp P. Thapa (GETIDOS; SERI; Radboud Universiteit)
Wie kann der Kultur- und Kreativsektor zur gesellschaftlichen Transformation beitragen, und zwar über künstlerischen Aktivismus hinaus? Eine denkbare Antwort sind kreative Methoden, die sich auf die politische Zukunftsgestaltung übertragen lassen. Dies erörtert der Beitrag anhand von lokalen Kreativräumen.
Kunst, Nachhaltige Entwicklung, Methoden


Like many people across society, artists and other members of the cultural and creative sector (CCS) want to contribute to the transformation to sustainability. One expression of this desire is artivism, short for ‘artistic activism’, which may range from the use of artworks and performances in protests and communication to an approach that treats social movements themselves as the artistic material. Other concerns include making cultural institutions, such as theatres, environment-friendly or opening cultural and creative spaces to themes of sustainability so as to catalyse related societal debates and transformation. The question is, how can they do all of that, and more generally, what potentials does the CC sector hold for the transformation to sustainability? This is the central concern of The Big Green (2023–27), a EU-funded arts-and-culture project with partners in over a dozen countries, from which this paper emerges.

In this contribution, I explore the idea that a major transformative potential of the CC sector may lie in artistic and creative methods and ways of thinking. After all, social innovation, by definition, requires creativity, and people’s seeming collective inability to imagine and implement other ways of doing things and living life is often decried as a major cause of the deepening environmental crisis. For simplicity and concreteness, I situate this exploration in a municipal context where professional creatives, amateurs, and other members of local communities can easily interact on a personal level and institutions are relatively tangible. After playing through various ways how CC actors and spaces could inform transformative local politics, I relate this thought experiment to real cases and examples drawn from the Big Green partner network and beyond.