The Citizen Artist as an Agent of Change

RSA Event


Great Room Auditorium, RSA House

  • Creative Institutions and Systems
  • Communities
  • Arts and society

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The planetary crises we currently face demand that we draw on the creativity and perspectives of everyone to create a future we want to live in. Can we rise to the challenge of creating a sustainable future, and what role can the ‘citizen artist’ play in bringing about that change?

Lucy Neal’s recently published handbook, Playing for Time-Making Art As If the World Mattered identifies collaborative arts practices emerging in response to ecological, social and fiscal challenges, to reclaim a traditional role for artists in the community as truth-tellers and agents of change. Reaching beyond the facts and figures of science and technology, Lucy looks at the intentions and accountabilities of the ‘citizen artist’ in reinventing our world at a time of systemic change and uncertainty.  

A ‘transitional’ arts practice is described for the first time, emerging in neighbourhoods and on high streets, in apiaries and allotments, up mountains, in law courts, kitchens and village halls (and occasionally in theatres, galleries and museums).

Created by 64 artists and activists, Playing for Time is inspired by the grassroots Transition movement, modelling change in communities worldwide. Lucy explores the dynamics of an emerging arts practice, giving voice to a new narrative - the story of a people-led culture turning away from consumerism and commodity towards community and collaboration with imagination, humour, ingenuity and skill.


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