François Matarasso and I have been doing our monthly podcast, “A Culture of Possibility,” for two and a half years. Our topics include community-based arts, cultural policy, funding, evaluation, and through it all, cultural democracy. Most of the time, we interview artists and cultural organizers, but every third episode or so, we talk to each other about the issues and ideas that are engaging us.
Now we’d like to know what’s engaging you! We’ll be recording another cohost conversation in September; it will drop in October. You may have listened to us talk with each other about “What Community-based Art Can Do,” or the power of cultural institutions, evaluation, or funding. If so, we hope you enjoyed it, but whether you concur or take exception to our views, we’d love to hear yours.
What questions are preoccupying you? What would you like us to discuss? Please drop me a line. I promise to answer!
“A Culture of Possibility” has a quirky origin story, fitting these times. François and I have both known Owen Kelly, cofounder with Sophie Hope of miaaw.net, for decades. I met him at a community arts conference in Sheffield, England, in 1986, where I’d been invited to give a talk on “domination, imperialism, and oppression.” (Some things never change, hm?) In 2019, Owen and Sophie interviewed me for two episodes exploring cultural democracy in the US, aired on January 4 and January 18 of that year. In March, 2019, they interviewed François about his then-new book, A Restless Art.
François and I had never met in all three dimensions (and still haven’t, unless you count many hours of Zooming), but we’d corresponded about various events and documents in the history of policy for cultural democracy. Late in 2019, we started having occasional Zooms with a few colleagues, also participants in democratic cultural movements. We had a vague idea of convening something, but COVID put paid to that. In the fall of 2020, Owen and Sophie invited us to cohost our own podcast under the miaaw.net umbrella, and we decided to give it a try.
By now, 30-odd episodes in, we’re not only colleagues but good friends and collaborators in a wide-ranging and ongoing conversation about so many topics there’s only one word I can boil it down to: life. We hope to find ourselves in the same corner of the time-space continuum one of these days, but for now, it’s endlessly fascinating to discover so much in common and so much that’s different in the perspectives of we two cultural democracy veterans.
Our individual experience adds up to close to a century, so we’re never at a loss for words. But the words we’d like to learn now are yours: what shall we talk about in future? What would be useful to you?
You can find all episodes at Stitcher, iTunes, and wherever you get your podcasts, along with miaaw.net’s other podcasts by Owen Kelly, Sophie Hope, and many guests, focusing on cultural democracy and related topics. You can also listen on Soundcloud and find links to accompany the podcasts.
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“Why” by Annie Lennox.
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