Emergence launches with a conference in Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, October 2010.
Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
October 2010 felt the right time to launch Emergence. There was a sense of momentum after the survey, support from British Council Wales and a very positive meeting with Arts Council of Wales, so any delay would have lost valuable time.
At this stage Emergence had not yet secured funding. The first event in Cardiff relied greatly on the goodwill of contributors and the faith of the organisers, Fern Smith & Rhodri Thomas. Paul Allen (CAT) and Alison Tickell (Julies Bicycle) gave their time for free as did John McGrath (National Theatre Wales). James Tyson the then theatre programmer also gave Emergence the use of the venue Chapter Arts Centre gratis.
Many fingers were crossed that there would be sufficient take-up to make the event possible. As an arts-led event, Emergence gave what available funds there were to contributing artists who received small honoraria and expenses for taking part. This was done to show a conscious exception to the historical expectation that artists give their time for free. Paul Emmanuel who had just been awarded Welsh Artist of the Year exhibited his ‘sheep fleece paintings’ and Martin Powell a young poet who had recently made a splash at the Resurgence Festival gave impassioned readings of his work. This set a precedent in that all Emergence gatherings should honour the creative space, presence and contribution of art.
This first Emergence event was ‘Setting the Context’, looking at where we were, what was known and what was already developing. Emergence was influenced by the presence of the new strategy ‘One Wales: One Planet’, so for this conference it was important to hear from the Welsh Government on this potentially ground-breaking policy document. ‘One Wales: One Planet’ called for Wales to use ‘it’s fair share of resources’ as opposed to the three planet’s worth of resources currently used globally. Huw Charles’ presentation became the reference point for the rest of the conference and attendees were keen to actively engage with the strategy.
This was a signal that art does have to engage – to make itself relevant, visible and active in sustainability. Paul Allen, the leading figure behind the Centre for Alternative Technology’s Zero Carbon Britain report – an ambitious and impeccably-researched practical report which focuses on ‘powering up’ renewable energy/sustainable initiatives and powering down wasteful ways of living/exploitative production methods. Paul’s presentation was a magnificent success. There was a real sense of people being enormously affected by the information he was presenting in terms of the scale of climate change and resource depletion. This information was truly landing and making a palpable impact on those in the room. Alison Tickell from Julie’s Bicycle made a likewise positive impression with an empowering presentation on tools enabling artists to practically address the sustainability agenda.
The day was largely a typical conference format but had an informality and energy and for some a surprising honesty and openness in conversations which began to unfold as the day went on. The afternoon ended with a session based on ‘world café’ conversations led by Jenny MacKewn. Delegates were invited to flow between small groups taking questions and information with them from table to table, cross-pollinating information gathered. Important questions were raised – what inspires us, what sustains us and what is each of us doing in our own practices to further the agenda? A good place to start. Emergence was encouraged by the amount of people who came, the conversations – their honesty and openness throughout the day. Arts practitioners can sometimes not necessarily be the most open and welcoming – often there is a hierarchy and entrenched power inequalities between the funded and the not, presenters and makers, freelancers and companies. Anecdotally the nature of the interactions at Emergence was more trusting, vulnerable and open than might typically be the case. Attendees were speaking about something that noone had the answer to and everyone was searching and trying to make sense of the issues in their own way. A good beginning…
“Are we anywhere near the sort of carbon descent that science demands?”
“We are living through a revolution in terms of a shift of consciousness away from the individual towards a sense of connection”
“Where does good practice lie, what inspires us to go and do likewise?”
Fern was born in London and now lives in Swansea, South Wales. After studying for a degree in Psychology and a Masters in Industrial Relations she formed Volcano Theatre Company with Paul Davies in the 1980’s.
Since then Fern has performed, directed and taught workshops for Volcano and as a freelancer nationally and internationally for 25 years. Fern is co-initiator and creative producer of Emergence.
fern [at] emergence-uk.org
Cynnal Cymru / Sustain Wales
Facilitator, Emergence Summit 2012. Jenny Mackewn is an organizational consultant, creative catalyst, constellator, systemic coach, trainer and author working across sectors – ranging from educational and environmental to business. She specializes in catalyzing creative conversation and dialogue and in whole systems approaches to leadership and organizational development. She has recently designed and led pioneering programmes in eco facilitation and eco constellations for schumacher college.
Born in Maesteg, Paul Emmanuel studied at WGIHE and Goldsmiths. He has worked and exhibited widely both in the U.K. and internationally and has been British Council International Resident Artist on two occasions and awarded Wales Arts International funding for projects in China, Taiwan and the USA. He was Welsh Artist of the Year 2011/12 and won a Creative Wales Award for 2012/13. His most recent exhibitions have been Erotographomania at CAST, Hobart, The Diary of a Super-tramp at G39 Cardiff. Scalped at Goat Major Projects, Cardiff, Farm Shop at Nantyffin and Let’s See What Happens…. a major international Glynn Vivian exhibition of artists from Wales and China.
Paul lives and works at Nantyffin in the Brecon Beacons.
Martin is a young poet from Devon whose work was selected to open the CNN debate on Climate Change in Copenhagen.
After uploading a selection of his spoken word videos onto youtube, Martin’s poem, “Global Warning”, was subsequently used to open the CNN debate on Climate Change in Copenhagen. Martin has recently gained both investment and management from a well established social entrepreneur in London. He now plans to use his poetry to raise awareness on the major political, social and ecological issues of our time.
Martin presented at the Emergence Conference at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
John is the founding Artistic Director of National Theatre Wales, where he has worked with a wide range of artists and partner companies to develop an award-winning mix of work in theatres and site-specific locations across the country. The company has created landmark large-scale productions (The Persians, Coriolan/us, The Passion) as well as intimate imaginative events in spaces as varied as a domestic house, a beach, a forest and a school hall; always rooted in local communities and with a strong digital vision.
Credits for NTW: A Good Night Out in the Valleys by Alan Harris, Love Steals Us From Loneliness by Gary Owen, The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning by Tim Price (with every show live-streamed and hyperlinked online) and In Water I’m Weightless by Kaite O’Reilly (as part of the 2012 Festival, the Finale of the Cultural Olympiad).
John McGrath on the National Theatre Wales community:
Alison Tickell established Julie’s Bicycle in 2007 as a not-for-profit company, to unite and lead the music industry in tackling climate change. JB has brought together a coalition of scientific and industry figures to map the carbon profile of the industry and take practical steps to reduce it. JB has developed the Industry Green certification scheme specifically for the creative sector.
Alison is Associate Professor at Buckinghamshire New University, a member of the Events Supplement Working Group for the Global Reporting Initiative, and a founder participant on the United Nations Music & Environment Programme, 2010. Previous roles include Music Director at Creative and Cultural Skills and Development Director at Community Music, Advisory roles include the Live Music Forum, Music Manifesto Steering Group, and the Music Business Forum. She is on the Board of Sound Connections. Alison trained as a musician. www.juliesbicycle.com
External Relations, Centre for Alternative Technology
Paul is currently CAT’s External Relations Officer, heading the ground-breaking Zero Carbon Britain research and communications programme, liaising directly with key policy makers in Government, business, public sector and the devolved assemblies. Paul holds an Honours degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from Liverpool University and joined the Centre for Alternative Technology in 1988. Since then Paul has held many positions at CAT and helped spearhead many projects local to the Dyfi valley and further afield including Dulas Ltd – a CAT spin-off renewable engineering company and Eco Dyfi, a local organisation facilitating the regeneration and sustainable development of the Dyfi Valley (a UNESCO Biosphere reserve). Paul took up the newly created position as CAT’s Media and Communications Officer in 1995 acting as principal spokesperson for the centre and has played a key role in shaping CAT’s direction over the past three decades. He has also been influential on Wales’ position on climate change and sustainability in roles as Wales’ Climate Change Comissioner in 2007 and part of the Wales Science Advisory Council in 2010. Paul is also a sound engineer and musician, playing double bass, guitar, bouzouki bodhran and low whistle.