New article by Loraine Leeson on Cultural Democracy

 

Loraine Leeson explores the idea that art is a vital part of civilised society and should be a method of self-expression for everyone rather than the privileged few

https://mdxminds.com/2018/01/04/cultural-democracy/

Workshop by The Common, a collective of students studying Art Practice and the Community at Middlesex University. Photo ©Kerri Jefferis

Cultural democracy is not new, but rather an idea that has found a newly conducive context. This is much to do with the growing belief amongst younger generations that change is necessary and that they can and will make it happen

London Community Video Archive

On 9th August 2017 the London Community Video Archive went live. Its aim is to preserve, archive and share community videos made in the 1970s/80s in London Portable video recording — now a technology routinely embodied in smartphones — became available for the very first time back in the early 1970s, making it possible for individuals and communities to make their own television. The medium was taken up by people ignored or under-represented in the mainstream media – tenants on housing estates, community action groups, women, black and minority ethnic groups, youth, gay and lesbian people, and the disabled. With an overriding commitment to social empowerment and to combating exclusion, ‘Community Video’ dealt with issues which still have a contemporary resonance — housing, play-space, discrimination, youth arts.

The archive contains the video Emergency created by Loraine Leeson and Peter Dunn in 1974 in support of the campaign to keep Bethnal Green Hospital open. It also hosts an interview with Loraine that outlines how the making of this video became an important touchstone for her subsequent socially engaged art practice.

 

 

The GLC Story

On 8th May 2017 A Greater London published interviews on its GLC Story web site together with a new zine to commemorate the achievements of the Greater London Council (GLC) in the 1980s.

Loraine Leeson was interviewed in relation to the work of the GLC’s Community Arts Sub-Committee, on which she served during the Labour administration of the 1980s. During this period the most radical re-working of cultural policy that this country has seen took place in the capital, with £millions transferred from London’s ‘centres of excellence’ into cultural projects in which ordinary citizens could participate.

In 1986 the GLC was abolished by Thatcher, but A Greater London aims to recover that lost history, and uncover lessons for today. A group of volunteers collected and recorded these memories, which can be heard here. The oral history project is now complete and to share it with a wider audience a paperback zine has been published, which can be downloaded here, together with transcripts of the interviews.