mappa mundi…so far

Where have we got with the mappa mundi project?

We have started to build a partnership, to create a network of friends and supporters and are in contact with some of the people who will be part of the creative team.  We’ve also got some ideas about ways of raising funds. We are planning to have the first ‘live event’ of partners, participants and friends in late October and have dates for the first creative sessions at the beginning of November.

In this next immediate period we need to produce a better and clearer description of the project.  We also need a carefully considered, phased development plan and each phase needs to be budgeted.  At the same time our potential partnerships need to be extended and our network of friends and supporters needs to be made more communicative.

We are planning to make a bid for NESTA’s Digital Research and Development Fund for Arts and Culture. For this we need to have confirmed a technology partner.  We need a definite agreement with an organisation capable of carrying out at least the initial development phases of the online space design.

So who has been involved in our work?

I have been working with Research Assistant, Valentina Zagaria, and we have had valuable input from Naomi Hatfield Allen who worked with India Unheard.  This is one of the many projects with which mappa mundi has similarities.  Tom Clark has been giving us guidance and support and it was he who first put us in touch with the New  Economics Foundation whose The Great Transition has been a significant starting point for us.  Az Theatre Associate, Jonathan Meth, has contributed his unique inspirational thinking.

We have, through Tom, also had conversations with people involved in the Network for Social Change.  This may be another source of support.  Tom was inspired by Caryl Churchill’s play Seven Jewish Children and the performances he had seen in his locality where local groups had performed the play to raise consciousness and funds for Medical Aid for Palestinians.  This play has been performed in hundreds of locations throughout the world and it was thought that if all these performances had been video’d and collected together online it would create a kind of large-scale collective work that would both illustrate and encourage activism.  I have had a good conversation with Caryl and she is thinking about contributing a text that could be a part of the downloadable toolkit that is such a vital element of mappa mundi.

Other inspirational arts projects that we have been in contact with are Theatre Uncut and also the Community Arts International project that Alan Lyddiard initiated.  Our conversation with Alan was a major affirming movement forward for the project.  He is definitely a friend of mappa mundi.

At the beating heart of the creative process of devising the sessions that will be a part of the downloadable toolkit is the work that I have been doing with Debbie Warrener.  She is a practitioner who espouses the work of Joanna Macy and ‘the work that reconnects’.  We are planning to bring together a group of participants to try out our ideas and  in collaboration with practitioners from Insightshare in early November see if we can produce a mappa mundi drama video.

None of the partnerships have been formally agreed but one with Insightshare would form a key component in our work.

I have had a significant conversation with Claire Warwick, the Director of the Centre for Digital Humanities and there is a definite possibility that this unit that is a part of University College London’s Department of Information Studies and that has played a part in a project in NESTA’s first test phase of its Digital Research and Development Fund will be a partner in mappa mundi.

Claire also recommended that we contact the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis for a pathway to a ‘technology partner’.  The approach has been made and we are waiting to hear.  This is the most crucial element in our search.  The synergy has got to be right.  We have talked to Paul Harter at Creative Code who is a technical architect and programmer.  Our fingers are crossed, eyes open and ears close to the ground!

We have made approaches and had informal meetings with Body>data>space.  They are an interdisciplinary design collective and they work with telepresence, connectivity and physical/virtual blended space.  Their participation in the project would be vital for the curatorial aspects of mappa mundi and with the creation of an exhibition of work at a crucial culminating stage in the project.  Summer has forestalled our attempts!

The deep conversations that I have had with Clare Cooper and Shelagh Wright from Mission Models Money have created a relationship to their prescient networking organisation.  This is a very exciting connection with thinkers and doers who are really thinking through questions of transition and resilience in arts organisations.  I have become a peer member of their re.volution network and mappa mundi will be one of the seed projects in their re.think project.  I really want our association with this remarkable organisation to help us manage and structure our project through the collective brain-picking that good networking involves.

I am thinking of Clare and Shelagh as being friends of mappa mundi.  Likewise Peter Birch who is doing a Ph.D. in Organisational Psychology with special reference to conflict resolution and who worked on a creative project with Debbie Warrener, Edges of the Wild.  The conversation with Peter was seminal. Also, Nigel Pamment, the former Head of Drama at a South East London Comprehensive who has so generously given his advice about how drama sessions can be communicated to workshop leaders.

Talking about the work with Molly Flatt is a bit like leaving the best and the deepest till last.  Molly is a writer and works as a word of mouth evangelist with 1000heads. I met her when we worked together on The Inner Space. Building online communities is felicitous for her and her take on mappa mundi has launched the concept into a new strategic and communicative level.  This is due to Molly’s deep creativity, insight and knowledge.

Bringing to a close this little updating account I just want you to know that all these people I have talked about are the focus of my gratitude.  The adventure has been made by these exciting people.  But I haven’t mentioned them all and neither could I because I have engaged in myriad conversations about the project.  Dan Vokins and Tim Jenkins at the New Economics Foundation have been full of insight and imagination.  Perry Walker from the same outfit didn’t get it but the conversation with him was truly stimulating.  Also Derek Paget illuminated not just some of mappa mundi’s blurred edges but also the exigences of the funding environment and put me in touch with another inspirational project, C&T who work with internet and digital technology on drama projects with young people and adults here and in Africa.  Connectivity (‘Only connect!’) is what mappa mundi is all about. It’s just great to be in touch with this wealth of creativity.

Leave a Reply