Create is delighted to introduce ‘Beyond the Now’ a syndicated social practice platform, founded by partners based and working in locations across the globe. Beyond the Now aims to open new creative, cultural and political affinities for a post-pandemic world. Beside Create, partners include Counterpoints Arts, Open University, Plymouth College of Art, Ettijahat, Coculture, and Mozilla Festival.
The platform has been established to commission short reflective writings and other creative submissions from artists and other cultural practitioners as well as community activists, reflecting on the Covid-19 situation. Once commissioned, these writings will be syndicated: promoted online through the networks of the partner organisations in the project. In this way, the project aims to facilitate the sharing of perspectives; to learn from organic responses of solidarity that have sprung up from communities of place and interest in the context of COVID-19; and to re-imagine socially-engaged art in the light of the current crisis.
For Create, Beyond the Now gives us the opportunity to develop an agile, responsive and cooperative publication platform that – in the spirit of dispatches from the field – facilitates conversations between diverse voices from across the globe in addressing both the challenges to, and capacities of, socially engaged art in a time of global pandemic. We value the combined experience held within the partner organisations, bringing academic, organisational and practice-led expertise to a rich transdisciplinary and collegiate grounding from which to advance this project. The principle of the syndicate as a platform that reaches across practice boundaries and beyond the art sphere into diverse fields of expertise is very important. It highlights the importance of cooperation in a time of crisis and the value of embodied life experience as much as academic/ sectoral-specific knowledge. In this time of increasing isolationalism, cooperation is key and in the context of the arts, essential.
Collaboration is second nature to socially engaged artists and so organisations need to respond, by joining forces, sharing resources, co-creating opportunities for artists and cultural practitioners as well as platforms for discussion such as this one. In addition, practice based contributions to Beyond the Now can offer an enhanced understanding of the value and necessity of the social (and justice) in socially engaged arts and the “hidden labour” inherent in collaborative, socially engaged work – the latter having been brought to the fore by changes to working routines due to Covid 19.
As Beyond the Now expands via different ‘seasons’ it will advocate for the relevance and very particular capacities of collaborative/socially engaged arts to interrogate and represent ways of working, marked by a spirit of openness and generosity, that helps us all navigate our way through and beyond this current crisis.