‘The Common’

This is a proposed project for an Arts Council England application. ‘The Common’ is a place of cultural trading and connectivity, linking nine artists & socially deprived communities in the North East, Midlands & South East through gardening, growing and food. A grassroots process-based creative project to bring people together to share different perspectives of good community engagement practice, and ecological and carbon literacy.

workshop group in a forest setting
Apple Day at Fartown Forest Garden. Photo by Andrew Wilson, Same Skies Think Tank – sameskiesthinktank.com

‘The Common’ is a place-based artist commission programme. Linking people in Culture Declares Emergency (CDE) Hubs across England & extending community engagement practices. With gardening and food artist-led coproduction workshops, social & climate justice community-engaged exhibitions & events.

This is a CDE artist-led project. A place of cultural trading and connectivity, linking nine artists & socially deprived communities in the North East, Midlands & South East. CDE will commission locally based lead artists to mentor early-career local artists to co-produce artwork with families and young people in disadvantaged communities. We will co-create food, gardening, and sharing exhibitions and events. We will be producing an artist’s book, a community-produced film and photography exhibition, 2-D and 3-D installations and artworks. Amplifying young people’s voices, linking the urban, rural, and different ethnic communities in the North, Midlands & South with our regional CDE hubs in Kirklees, Durham, Coventry and Hastings.

CDE has committed to eliminating all forms of oppression from all aspects of our work. We value the diversity of all lived experiences & cultural perspectives. We recognise that our strategies and actions must draw on the wisdom of everyone.

‘The Common’ will creatively explore how our cultural distinctiveness is a power that brings us together when seen through the lens of nature and food. It connects with the most socially deprived areas in the four areas within the lowest 10% and 20% of communities according to the English indices of deprivation 2019 in our regional hubs Kirklees, Coventry, Hastings, Durham and Teesside, that have been culturally under-served. To creatively explore how access to growing and eating healthy food contributes to climate justice locally and globally, across various backgrounds & perspectives in England.

The project will enable people to explore how creative practice can help reconnect people back to the land and often hidden cultural, ecological, and ethnobotanical knowledge of food-growing medical and herb plants. And their cultural references from Eastern European, South Asian, Black and British white folklore. Young people and families in each hub will connect & across all four hubs.

‘The Common’ will enable CDE to diversify further through participatory-focused community building via the local Hub structure and bringing more diverse voices into the ecological and climate conversations from the powerbase of their cultural heritage. Culminating with events and installations curated by communities at community and arts venues across the four regional hubs. An in-person and digital sharing and discussion of the process and the community engagement and creative practices used during the project by the artists will take place at Warwick Art Centre in November 2023 entitled ‘The Common’. This will be accompanied by a week-long exhibition of all four commissions.

About Culture Declares Climate and Ecological Emergency

We are a growing movement in arts and culture, declaring a climate and ecological emergency. We pledge to tell truths, take action and seek justice. Arts and culture can lead in creating a regenerative future that protects the planet and sustains everyone, everywhere.

When we launched in April 2019, we were the first professional declaration movement, inspired by local governments who were declaring emergency.

We offer community, knowledge-sharing, support and resources to ensure sustained action follows a declaration.

We have ten established regional and international Hubs – in Kirklees; East of England; South East Coast; Ilkley; North East; Birmingham; Coventry; South West; Australia; India; Germany; and Hubs emerging in Wales; Dudley; Canada; Uganda and Spain.


That the cultural sector is a leading contributor in creating a regenerative future that protects the planet and sustains everyone, everywhere. 


To grow, support and mobilise a movement of declarers in the UK cultural sector, and inspire and work with others internationally. 


Our values are underpinned by truth-tellingaction-taking and justice-seeking.

We declare that the Earth’s life-supporting systems are in imminent jeopardy, threatening human civilisation and the biodiversity it depends upon 

  • We believe that science needs to be acted on urgently and towards far-reaching systemic change if we are to turn from the path we are on. 
  • Culture connects, inspires and determines our values, frames and behaviours; therefore, a transformation of society has to be pioneered by cultural generators. 
  • Every organisation and individual from any field within or outside the cultural sector has responsibility as a cultural generator. We welcome all allies.  
  • We commit to understanding and communicating how the Earth crisis has arisen from historic and deeply rooted injustices, the impacts of this on human and biodiverse communities, and how transformative solutions must honour the  perspectives of those affected. 
  • We commit to eliminating all forms of oppression from all aspects of our work and seek to create an environment where we dismantle attitudes and biases that hinder positive relationships and progress in our work. 
  • We value the diversity of all lived experiences and cultural perspectives. We recognise that our strategies and actions must draw on the wisdom of everyone.

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