The Social Exchange is coming. Actually, let me rephrase this. The Social Exchange is coming! That’s right, that sentence needed an exclamation mark at the end. Not only because the programme is really exciting, but also because this is the first major Free Radical event on which I’ve worked since I joined the company and The Beatfreeks Collective.
Free Radical may be new, I may be new, but the underlying ideas behind the event are familiar to the Beatfreeks family: the goal is, as ever, to give people the space to grow as artists and activists, make their voices heard, and find ways to have an impact on the world. So for this one day, we’re bringing together artists, activists, cultural organisations so they can hear each other, connect, and share. I would have loved to attend as a participant back when I was starting out as an artist and feeling a little lost.
I’m also proud of the theme we came up with. When someone says utopia, or dystopia, most people probably think of the future: a squeaky clean Star Trek style universe or Mad Max in a post-apocalyptic nightmare. The thing is, both of these exists here and now, and often share the same space. One street can contain someone’s dream home and somebody else’s old neighbourhood where they can no longer afford to live; someone’s favourite spot can be somebody else’s no go zone. Exploring the idea of utopia and dystopia here, now feels urgent and necessary to if we’re going to understand the complex issues our communities face every day.
So come over to Midlands Arts Centre on the 16th and contribute to Malikah Holder’s interactive art installation as she builds the light and the dark side an imaginary city; listen to poets such as Anthony Anaxagorou and Jasmine Gardosi cut through world’s BS with their words; learn about changing people’s minds from Bridget Minamore, and see if major institutions can be challenged from within with Chantelle Lewis; expand your skillset through workshops with organisations such as Amnesty International and Theatre for Democracy; punch the air as you listen to Shay D and our other amazing musical guests; and help us map a way out of the utopia/dystopia paradox and into something better for all of us. See you there!