‘If you really want to experience emergence you have to just trust, trust in your heart, trust in people, trust in the universe’ – Satish Kumar
January 31st 2011
Volcano Theatre, Swansea
The response to the first Emergence conference was so positive, momentum and energy around the project had begun to gear up for the next event in Swansea on January 31st 2011. The application for funding from Arts Council Wales had been successful giving the project the go-ahead and confidence to organise both the Swansea and Caernarfon events. It was always the idea to organise three one-day conferences representing a trilogy, where discussion around sustainability would become increasingly deeper and more rounded.
The first conference in Cardiff got the conversation started. The event focused on infrastructure, carbon emissions, and introduced the idea that the arts could have a pivotal role in the challenge of how we get from here to there – from a world which uses three times the current available resources to a ‘One Planet Wales’ or a ‘Zero Carbon Britain’. Cardiff was about laying out the stall and defining the territory, the focus now moved towards values that underpin sustainable thinking.
The name Emergence implies something which happens when a system develops or responds to changes in an adaptive and holistic manner. There is a sense that the system is ‘networked up’, all parts communicating and creating information feedback loops enabling it to learn and to grow. A networked system has emergent properties including an ability to constantly respond and adapt to new conditions. These ideas were central to how Emergence developed as a project from the very beginning. Emergence was a learning entity responding to new dynamics and was dependent on growing new relationships. The notion of an interconnected whole was something which inspired the next event in Swansea.
The theme ‘interconnectedness’ was chosen in order to examine what might support the development of a sustainable arts sector, society or planet. It was time to look at the values that drive and inspire us; the values or behaviour which are responsible for species to adapt and respond to change or threat. All of the speakers chosen were asked in some way to respond to this theme.
Satish Kumar was invited to speak about Emergence and, for many people, is a living embodiment of the concept. Satish, his work at Schumacher College, Resurgence Magazine and his involvement with the Schumacher Institute has been one of the inspirations behind the entire Emergence project. For many, he articulates why so many are drawn to work in this area. He touches on something very deep-rooted and speaks about interconnection with a combination of poetic power and philosophical precision. Other speakers were from Transition Network; People United; Arts Admin; and Meta Theater. Alan Dix as ‘artist in residence’ gave a genuinely funny and moving example of ‘Pecha Kucha’, subverting the formality of the typical powerpoint format.
The world café model was used again to create a space for delegates to come together. This time it offered the opportunity to go into the natural world and explore a question of mutual curiosity. Many projects and collaborations were dreamt up from just that one conversation.
“How do you want to work, how do you want to live, how do you want to see yourselves in the future?”
“If you really want to experience emergence you have to trust, trust in your heart, trust in people, trust in the universe”
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.
Alan Dix has worked as a theatre director and arts consultant for over 30 years. He has supported organisations and artists throughout the UK in the production of new work and has developed cultural policies and programmes with local authorities, Arts Council England and many other public bodies. In 2012 Alan produced My Last Car for the Cultural Olympiad. Written by Sarah Woods, My Last Car is a high spirited examination of the motor car, its impact on our sense of self and the adaptations we must make to address a future that may not include the ubiquitous automobile. Alan is planning to re-tour My Last Car in 2014.
Tom Andrews is the Founder and Chief Executive of People United. He has worked for 17 years in the arts, education and community sectors – bringing people together, promoting understanding and initiating new ideas.
People United is a participatory arts organisation and creative laboratory. It researches and develops imaginative ideas and projects that build kind, caring and actively engaged communities. Working with leading research centres, People United acts as a practical innovator, creating, testing out and professionally evaluating social programmes that can be replicated and shared. People United’s most recent project, ‘We All Do Good Things,’ celebrated kindness across the town of Herne Bay in Kent (see wealldogoodthings.org).
Judith Knight is co-director and founder of Artsadmin – a unique producing organisation for contemporary artists working in theatre, dance, live art and visual arts. Artsadmin, over the last thirty years, has supported many of the most innovative arts projects in the UK. At its home at Toynbee Studios in East London, Artsadmin has established a centre for new work and developed a range of services for artists and young people including a free advisory service, bursaries, and mentoring and development programmes.
In recent years, Artsadmin has focussed much of its work on issues of climate change, and is a member of the Imagine 2020 Network of European collaborators producing artists’ projects on the subject. As part of this programme, Artsadmin produces Two Degrees – a biennial festival on arts-activism.
When he was only nine years old, Satish Kumar renounced the world and joined the wandering brotherhood of Jain monks. Dissuaded from his path by an inner voice at the age of eighteen, he left the monastic order and became a campaigner for land reform, working to turn Gandhi’s vision of a peaceful world into reality.
Fired by the example of Bertrand Russell, he undertook an 8,000 mile peace pilgrimage, walking from India to America without any money, through deserts, mountains, storms and snow. It was an adventure during which he was thrown into jail in France, faced a loaded gun in America – and delivered packets of ‘peace tea’ to the leaders of the four nuclear powers. In 1973, he settled in England, taking the Editorship of Resurgence magazine and has been the editor ever since. He is the guiding spirit behind a number of ecological, spiritual and educational ventures in Britain. He founded the Small School in Hartland, a pioneering secondary school, which brings into its curriculum ecological and spiritual values. He is a Visiting Fellow of Schumacher College – a residential international centre for the study of ecological and spiritual values.
Presenter at Emergence Swansea: Connection
Instigator, theatre maker and educator, Lucy Neal is interested in the art of social sculpture and how celebratory events act as a catalyst for change. Co-founding director of the LIFT Festival, recent projects, The Trashcatchers’ Carnival and the Tooting Transition Shop explore how artists nurture collective space to imagine a more ecological and life-sustaining society. Co-author of MMM’s Sustainable Ability, she is Happiness Associate on the Happy Museum Project and co-founder of Case For Optimism. Active in the Transition Town movement since 2008, she is currently writing Playing For Time, the Transition Book on the Arts. She was awarded an OBE in 2005 for services to drama.
Designer and facilitator, Emergence Summit 2012
Axel Tangerding – architect, director and actor – is the founder of Meta Theatre Munich, which is a production house built in the Bauhaus style. He recently developed a theatre building for the Swedish theatre company, Teatermaskinen, in Riddyrhyttan – a building complex called ‘Workspace Riddarhyttan,’ which hosts an experimental theatre space, a studio for light, sound and video, a workshop, a foyer, a service unit and a guest house for artists in residence (for European projects). The task was to develop a design under “green” criteria concerning energy, materials and sustainability. The first unit will be finished in 2011, and in 2012 the total compound will be finished, including an amphitheatre and a sauna at the lake side.
Axel Tangerding is involved in international networks, having been on the board of IETM (International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts), and is currently on the board of ITI (International Theatre Institute).