The Small Change Forum - Can art remake the world?

Friday, 23 September 2011


An innovative one day arts conference hosted by Oxford Brookes University's Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP), in partnership with community arts organisation Multistory, is to be held next month (Friday 7 October).

An innovative one day arts conference hosted by Oxford Brookes University's Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP), in partnership with community arts organisation Multistory, is to be held next month (Friday 7 October).

The conference, entitled The Small Change Forum – Ingenious People Make Better Places, will focus on how culture and participatory arts can be catalysts for positive change in communities. The idea has been put into practice by Multistory with pilot projects around the world ranging from West Bromwich in the Midlands to Ladakh in India.

The Small Change approach to community development starts with a common sense assumption: to achieve something big, start with something small and where it counts. The launch of the Small Change Forum initiative will provide a platform to promote learning and practice for this approach in the UK and internationally.

The October conference will explore how small, practical and mostly low budget creative interventions, if carefully targeted, can start to create bigger, long-lasting change; change that is designed to improve people's neighbourhoods and life opportunities.

This project is based on the Small Change approach to community development as described in the book, Small Change: About the Art of Practice and the Limits of Planning in Cities, which was written by Emeritus Professor Nabeel Hamdi, who is one of the keynote speakers at this event and a co-founder of the CENDEP Masters course.

Professor Nabeel Hamdi said ahead of the conference: 'This simple but powerful ideal demands significant changes to the way we think, do, organise and sustain. Each Small Change event will share new ideas, tools and methods, practical experience and principles, in order to inform teaching and practice, and with a view to changing long-term policy.'

Commented The Small Change Forum Chair, Jeni Burnell, 'Through its practice and research, the Small Change team is discovering ways in which these cultural catalysts, when uncovered, can be supported and scaled up.

Jeni continued: 'Furthermore, we are finding out what the opportunities and constraints are to achieving this type of community development in the UK. The key to achieving Small Change is to look at how policy and practice can be challenged and changed to accommodate this community-led approach to designing and managing cities and towns in the future.'