Arlene Goldbard’s and my interests intersect in community arts and cultural policy (both broadly defined). Within those subjects, we see questions of possibility, choice, and hope as critical – especially now, as humanity struggles with the pandemic, climate crisis, and growing inequality. Virtually every community arts project engages people in working for the futures they desire, even if only on a local scale. Often that means overcoming a reluctance to get one’s hopes up for fear of being disappointed. Community artists and cultural democrats know that without dreaming together, our hopes can never be realized.
So our emphasis in this podcast will be people, projects, and topics that expand possibility and choice through cultural work. When we interview people, it won’t be just to hear their work described, but to explore why they do it, what it means, how they hope it will engage others, what influence or change they are seeking, and so on. With each podcast, our plan is to begin with a conversation with a guest, then conclude with the two of us reflecting on what was expressed. Although we know a lot of people in our generational cohort—community arts veterans—our hope is to hear as much from younger guests reflecting on what’s happening now and what may be coming.
This is a journey I’m starting with Arlene Goldbard, during which we’ll share ideas and experiences about art, community, social action and similar issues. If that sounds vague, it’s partly because we’re not sure where this will take us, but also because we come from different traditions. Arlene is American and I’m European and our different perspectives interest us because they also illuminate our friendship and the values we hold in common.
Last year, we held several online conversations, in public and private, but with no further ambition than to share our thinking during this strange period. The suggestion of doing a podcast came from Owen Kelly and Sophie Hope, who’ve been doing an excellent series about cultural democracy for several years. Owen generously offered to handle the necessary technical work that would put me off doing this alone. So A Culture of Possibility is also hosted on Owen and Sophie’s site, ‘Meanwhile In An Abandoned Warehouse’, where you’ll find links and materials about each episode. They’ll be published at midday on the third Friday of the month. We’re starting with three, after which we’ll review what we’re doing.