The Episodes So Far...




October 12, 2018

001: Cultural Democracy in Practice

Sophie Hope and Owen Kelly look at the recent report by 64 Million Artists, and the responses it has drawn; and wonder what they thought they were up to.


October 26, 2018

002: Reflections on The World Transformed & Social Tools

The World Transformed took place in Liverpool in September 2018, just three days before Social Tools took place in Helsinki. Sophie Hope managed to attend both of them.


November 9, 2018

003: Beyond the manifesto: a new deal for the arts

Kieran Curran has written an important essay in the online journal New Socialist, that suggests how the Labour Party manifesto of 2017 might be extended and improved in its commitment to culture. Sophie Hope and Owen Kelly look at different aspects of his article and discuss the possibilities inherent in his proposals.


November 23, 2018

004: A Prehistory of Cultural Democracy

Sophie Hope and Owen Kelly look back at some of the thinking that led to the development of the idea of cultural democracy, and the ways in which the community arts movement nurtured these ideas.


December 7, 2018

005: Project DEFY

Megha Sharma Bhagat and Abhijit Sinha from Project DEFY in Bangalore visited Helsinki to take part in the HundrED innovation summit. Owen Kelly met them in the cafe in Kiasma, Helsinki’s modern art museum, to talk to them about culture, democracy, and radical action in India.


December 21, 2018

006: Community Art & Cultural Democracy

Sophie Hope and Owen Kelly discuss the reasons that cultural democracy began to find favour among some people working in the British community arts movement in the 1980s. They used it to describe the goal and purpose of their work, when Roy Shaw at the Arts Council of Great Britain began to try to paint them as quaint missionaries.


January 4, 2019

007: Cultural Democracy in the USA

Sophie Hope and Owen Kelly talk with Arlene Goldbard, a writer, social activist and consultant from the USA, whose focus is the intersection of culture, politics, and spirituality. She is a long-time advocate for cultural democracy and a creator of cultural critique and new cultural policy proposals.


January 18, 2019

008: Cultural Democracy across the Ocean

This episode continues a conversation between Arlene Goldbard, in New Mexico; Sophie Hope, in London; and Owen Kelly, in Helsinki. The conversation begins by discussing the US Department of Arts and Culture, where Arlene Goldbard acts as Chief Policy Wonk.


February 1, 2019

009: Autobiography and culture politics

Sophie Hope and Jonathan Gross discuss the relationship between autobiography and cultural action, and the needs to explore memory and history as a means of making sense of one’s own cultural politics. During the conversation they each discuss how they came to view cultural democracy as a meaningful idea and a useful tool, and what inspired them to do so.


February 15, 2019

010: Culture & the Cultural Cities Enquiry

Last week the report of the Cultural Cities Enquiry appeared, published by a consortium of Core Cities, Key Cities, consultants and arts funding agencies in the UK. Sophie Hope, Owen Kelly & Stephen Pritchard sat down to discuss what the report says and doesn’t say; and the ways in which it does and doesn’t say these things.


March 1, 2019

011: The Resurgence of Cultural Democracy

This episode follows on from Episode 4 which looked at a kind of pre-history of cultural democracy, and Episode 6 which discussed the relationship between the community art movement in the 1980s and cultural democracy. In this episode Sophie Hope and Owen Kelly continue their discussion by focusing on the resurgence of interest in ideas of cultural democracy in the 1990s and 2000s, and the relationships between these and previous ideas.


March 15, 2019

012: From community to participatory arts

François Matarasso first worked as a community artist in 1981. Since then he has worked in community arts, participatory arts, and as a writer and researcher. He has just published a new book called A Restless Art, which looks at the growth of participatory arts and argues that it has succeeded in moving cultural discussions forward. In this episode he talks with Owen Kelly and Sophie Hope about the history of participatory art, and the kinds of things that have inspired him


March 29, 2019

013: From participatory arts to cultural democracy

François Matarasso has just published a new book called A Restless Art, which looks at the growth of participatory arts and how it relates to community art and the idea of cultural democracy. This episode continues his conversation with Owen Kelly and Sophie Hope. They look at how participatory art sometimes has cultural democracy as its aim, and ask what cultural democracy might mean in this context.


April 12, 2019

014: Guild Socialism Restated

In this episode Owen Kelly and Sophie Hope discuss G.D.H. Cole’s book Guild Socialism Restated, published in 1920, and ask what relevance guild socialism might have to debates about cultural democracy today.


April 26, 2019

015: Defy & cultural democracy in India

Sophie Hope and Owen Kelly talk to Abhijit Sinha about the nooks that Project Defy initiate. They discuss how nooks work, and what they mean for developing activism around maker spaces in Indian society. Finally Abhijit explains why ideas about cultural democracy do not feature much in political discussion in India yet, and how he thinks they might become useful.


May 10, 2019

016: The cultural democracy of amateur porn

Sophie Hope and Owen Kelly talk with Susanna Paasonen on her research into amateur and user-generated porn. They talk about the long and poorly documented history of user-generated erotic media and how this has both reflected and stimulated changes in technology. Does amateur porn stand outside the market place as an example of a self-selecting community engaged in a participatory culture of a more or less democratic nature? Or is it simply a shallow reflection of the dominant culture? The answer, you will be pleased to learn, proves not as simple as that.


May 24, 2019

017: Culture, democracy & the right to make art

Alison Jeffers talks with Sophie Hope about how she got drawn into the community arts movement, and her personal journey from then to now. They discuss how the ways in which community arts has changed direction and developed as the wider culture has changed; about the effects that the community arts movement has and hasn’t had; and what might happen next.


June 7, 2019

018: Community Cultural Development in Australia

In this episode, Cathy Hunt, founder and co-director of Positive Solutions, discusses the nature of community cultural development in Australia, and its relationship to ideas of cultural democracy. The conversation covers the Women of the World festival, Scott Rankin’s recent platform paper on the subject of cultural rights, First Nation cultural activism, Arts Front, and the different forms that cultural tourism can take.


June 21, 2019

019: Democracy in the Drawing Shed

In this episode Sophie Hope talks with Sally Labern, an artist and activist living and working in north London. They have a long and detailed discussion about the specificities of cultural organising. They both live in the London Borough of Walthamstow, and they have both worked locally – separately and together – and they reflect […]


July 5, 2019

020: The Story So Far…

Sophie Hope and Owen Kelly use the twentieth episode of Meanwhile In An Abandoned Warehouse to look back at what has and hasn’t happened in the discussions so far. They discuss a number of ideas that have stuck in their minds, or served to start further explorations; and debate where they might go next.


July 19, 2019

021: Temporary democracy in a cultural space

In 2016 John Fail and Agnieszka Pokrywka began the first in a series of cultural experiments in Helsinki. They called it Temporary and they envisaged it as a space that would be managed and owned by the people using it. Agnieszka talks with Owen Kelly about the ideas that fuelled the experiments and explains what they learned and how she would approach the ideas if she ever decided to do something similar in the future.


August 2, 2019

022: Live from the Raymond Williams Society Annual Conference

On April 26 and 27 the Raymond Williams Society held its annual conference which addressed the topic: Cultural Production and the Redundancy of Work: precarity, automation and critique. The Movement for Cultural Democracy organised a panel at the conference and Sophie Hope, Nick Mahony and Stephen Pritchard spoke at it. In this episode Sophie Hope describes some of the context to Owen Kelly, and we listen to live recordings of Nick and Stephen’s presentations.


August 16, 2019

023: Helsinki Open Data

Timo Cantell works as the director of the Urban Research and Statistics Unit of the City of Helsinki, a unit of 35 people within the city council charged with gathering data, and publishing it in ways that the citizens of Helsinki can use. In this episode Timo Cantell talks with Owen Kelly about the ways in which the city approaches the collection, distribution and publication of public data, and the tools it uses to make it open.


August 30, 2019

024: Cultural Democracy in Mauna Kea

Over the summer Owen Kelly has become increasingly interested in the protests at the attempts to build a Thirty Metre Telescope on the north face of Mauna Kea, on the Big Island in Hawaii, and increasingly angry at the way the project has been forced onto people, when a viable alternative exists. In this episode he argues that the protests relate directly to ideas of cultural democracy, and to other subjects that we have touched upon in previous podcasts.


September 13, 2019

025: David Rovics: strategies for production

This episode follows a slightly different format, in which Owen Kelly thinks aloud about the work of David Rovics: quoting from his writings and playing some of his music. He pays particular attention to Rovics’ community-supported arts club, his crowdfunding activities (including the funding of his new album which he will record in Ireland this autumn), and his fledgling A Penny A Play campaign. He argues that we should see all of these as Rovics’ contribution to an ongoing drive towards cultural democracy.


September 27, 2019

026: Climate strikes & consumer choices

In this episode Sophie Hope and Owen Kelly discuss the climate strikes and raise questions about how we might respond: as activists, as consumers, as producers. They discuss the question of how consumer choice and climate change might crash into each other. Should we change our behaviours or are we being guilt tripped? If the latter, are we actually being led down paths that will prevent us noticing the political and systemic nature of the problem?


October 11, 2019

027: Return To Cultural Democracy – the movie

George Fleming is a film maker and lecturer who has worked as a participatory artist. He made a short film on the history of cultural democracy for a conference. Sophie Hope attended the conference and persuaded George to join us to discuss what he learned while making the film.