The Agora was the central public space in ancient Greek city-states. The word means either gathering place or assembly. The agora brought together the artistic, spiritual, civic and political life of the city in one space; it was a space for creating social capital.
The new, nomadic Agora is a mobile intervention, which will appear in everyday places.
Agora will travel the UK. As part of the Troublemakers’ Festival, the Swansea Agora will appear in five different locations on five days for five one-hour sessions. The Margate Agora will appear a few times in different places during the Margate Festival. Stoke Agora will happen as part of Festival Stoke. Short, sharp versions are being planned for London, Eastbourne, and Worthing.
Agora is a social artwork, and in each iteration, I will sit down with about ten people for an hour to have a conversation about local life. A range of prompts and simple activities will be provided. It’ll be a conversation in Plain English, using everyday examples, about citizenship, social capital and democracy.
All the local conversations will become part of a wider artwork about the UK’s identity and ideas of citizenship at this time of change. The things people say and do in each place will travel on to the next.
At the end, I’ll produce a state-of-the-nation piece, in writing but also as an exhibition at my studio. Whichever way the general election goes, we’ve fallen apart as a country and it’s time to work out what’s next: our politicians have failed us in that, and it’s time for citizens to talk.
Natural capital gets lots of air time because banks – in their ongoing quest to own the world – like to invest. Social capital? Not so much. Dan Thompson bangs the drum on behalf of all of us. He is expert at unlocking potential in people and places that are ignored. Lucy Siegle