One of the challenges is therefore developing spaces and context where people feel they can have agency and meaningful input over decisions made within such a process; spaces where the more traditional power relations might usefully be exploded.
Co-creation, co-production and co-design informs every detail and aspect of KWMC’s work. This is underpinned by a belief in the value of different knowledge, expertise and experience coupled with a keen understanding of the need to address inequalities, which we recognise as commonly being underpinned by hierarchies of knowledge, culture and experience, which so often dominate the development of programmes across a wide range of institutions.
We believe that it is important to work together to bring about change, because of the value of different knowledge, expertise and experiences in informing an enriched and relevant process, response and ultimately creative solutions to issues.
One strand of KWMC’s work is about addressing digital exclusion, and tackling inequalities by co-designing relevant tools to address contemporary issues. For example, we have developed ‘The Bristol Approach’, which has been recognised as a significant development and is being advocated widely. For example, in the Locality report for Bristol City Council, ‘People, Places and Spaces: Community-Led solutions for Bristol 2017’, Paul Hassan identifies the need for Bristol’s community organisations to:
‘Adopt Knowle West Media Centre’s ‘The Bristol Approach to Citizen Sensing’ as a way of working. This approach seeks to understand the issues people care about through effective use of digital technology and data management, rather than ‘pushing’ technology or pre-determined ‘solutions’ onto community groups.” (Hassan, P., 2017)
The Bristol Approach is also being shared more widely, nationally and internationally through presentations and publications.
KWMC is recognised nationally and internationally as an exemplary organisation for nurturing the social economy and inclusive growth, through co-design and co-creation. For example, KWMC was recently cited by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as an example of innovative SEO activity and an exemplar for innovation and knowledge sharing:
“Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) is an arts centre in Bristol which supports people and communities to use digital technologies and the arts for ‘community activism, education, employment and local decision-making’. It is embedded in Knowle West, an estate of about 5,500 householders, and works with the community to create positive social change.” (Vickers et al, 2017)
At KWMC we also believe that it is important to share the learning that has taken place over the past 21 years of KWMC’s co-creation and to learn from other similarly motivated organisations, to co-design further strategies for co-creation. To this end KWMC is a member of the core organisations in the Co-Creating Change Network, organised by Battersea Arts Centre.
Balestrini, M., Rogers, Y., Hassan, C., Creus, J., King, M., Marshall, P (2017)
A City in Common: A Framework to Orchestrate Large-scale Citizen Engagement around Urban Issues
Paper delivered at CHI: Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems,2017, Denver, USA
Hassan, P, 2017
‘People, Places and Spaces: Community Led Solutions for Bristol 2017’
Bristol City Council / Locality: Bristol / London: 2017
Roz Stewart-Hall and Martha King, 2018
‘Artists, Data and Agency in Smart Cities’ in
Big Data in the Arts and Humanities: Theory and Practice
Taylor and Francis: Forthcoming
Vickers et al, 2017
Ian Vickers, Andrea Westall, Roger Spear, Geraldine Brennan and Stephen Syrett
Cities, the social economy and inclusive growth: a practice review
Joseph Rowntree Foundation: Middlesex:2017
Image: local residents creating illustrations to be printed onto fabric as part of Ellie Shipman’s artist residency, 2018. Image by Ibolya Feher.