Third National Network Gathering, November 2019

Image of members of the Co-Creating Change taking part in an in-person workshop in 2019

Below is a round-up of the third Co-Creating Change network gathering, which took place at Arnolfini in Bristol on 7th November.


Welcome to Co-Creating Change

Liz gave an introduction to the day, with a bit of context on Co-Creating Change for those attendees who are new to the project, and an update on how the project is progressing. You can read this update here.

Morning provocations

We then heard short provocations from four different perspectives on co-creation, agency and power. The central questions at the heart of these provocations were:


Dan Spencer – West End Million, Morcambe

What would happen if you made your end product less defined, or not defined at all?


Marcus Brown – Signifier, Bristol 

Co-Creation, without the relinquishing of power to create true equity, is an exercise in appropriative control. Inequitable co creation simply becomes participatory commissioning. To state otherwise is a lie.

(You can read the full text of Marcus’s provocation here.)


Malik Gul – Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network

How do we recognise our privileges, and give these up and step aside for others, in order to effect real change in racial inequality in the opportunities available to people in the UK today?



Faidat Ope – Empowher, Manchester

It’s very likely the people you are working with will feel vulnerable in this process, but if you think about it, you should be vulnerable too, shouldn’t you? How do you do this? And how does it feel?


Afternoon workshops

Four practical workshops on different elements of the co-creation process took place in the afternoon:

  • ‘Are ye askin?’ with Nic Green

Using examples of past projects as a starting point, this workshop considered the methods, ethics, efficacy, and currency of making an invitation. What might we learn about our own experience of making and receiving invitations to expand our ideas around the act of ‘inviting’ as part of processes, projects and presentations within arts, cultural and community settings?

  • ‘The Power of Networks’ with Malik Gul, Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network

Malik explained that the impact of multiple societal factors, from stress and poverty to environment and discrimination, continues to take its toll on the most vulnerable and marginalised members of our communities – if you are from a BAME community you are four times more likely to be in mental health services, and at the acute end of care.

This workshop explored the ‘power of networks’, and how these can enable us to see patterns of relationships, and unlock them to create social good – using the example of a group of local faith and community leaders who co-created early intervention and prevention with the local NHS Mental Health Trust, where their own knowledge and capabilities has become the central factor in how those in need are connected with and supported.

  • ‘Sharing the Wealth’ with Rhiannon White, Common Wealth Theatre

Rhiannon explained that art can help us see ourselves, understanding who we are and where we come from. It can help us recognise the power we have; it can give us agency. It can prepare us for acts of social change, for transformation. This workshop explored ways to lay the foundations for powerful, active co-creation, using examples from Common Wealth’s practice – celebrating lived experience, agency and how we discover our shared wealth.

  • ‘Everyone’s got a story to tell…and their own way of telling it’ with 20 Stories High

20 Stories High explained that nearly 14 years ago, 20 Stories High set up a theatre company where the youth theatre had a deep and meaningf

ul relationship with their professional national touring work. Halfway through that journey, some youth theatre members challenged them and asked why they couldn’t be the ones being paid professionally to tour and create theatre that felt more authentic. And so they began a journey…

This workshop, led by alumni of the 20 Stories High youth theatre who are now working as professional artists independently of the company, explored the tools that 20 Stories High use to co-create change from participation to professional development.



Overview of the day from Susanne Burns

Susanne, our Learning and Evaluation Consultant for the Co-Creating Change project as a whole, has written a blog summing up her experience of the day – and also posing some observations and themes that surfaced during the provocations, discussions and workshops. You can read this blog on the Co-Creating Change website here.


Photos and drawings

You will already have seen some of them in this email! But you can see a collection of photos of the day here, and the full set of livescribed drawings by Jasmine Thompson here, capturing some of the key moments of the day.


Your feedback

Enormous thanks to everyone who filled in a feedback form at the end of the day. Your input is absolutely vital in making these days useful, inspiring, fun and accessible for network members – they are only worth doing if they are providing you with what you need.

We have already had some really useful feedback on what we might want to focus on next time – but if you didn’t get a chance to fill in a paper feedback form, or you have thought of something else you would like to pass on since then, please do just get in touch to let us know.


Continuing the conversation

  • Don’t forget that as well as meeting in person twice a year, we have an online discussion platform for the network, Loomio. If you or your organisation hasn’t already received an invitation to Loomio, please drop Marina a line on, and she can get you signed up. You can use Loomio to share updates on your own work and practice, discuss ideas, and make offers or requests for skills and ideas you would like to share or receive from others.


  • And don’t forget that the Co-Creating Change website has stories, blogs and resources for co-creation – and that all network members can upload their own stories, resources and events – you don’t need to go through us at BAC to do this!


In order for you to add your own content, you will need to follow these steps:

  • Email Marina on to confirm that you would like to be added as an editing user to the website
  • Marina will send you a username and password to log in to the back end of the website:
  • Once you have logged in, choose ‘Resources’, ‘Stories’ or ‘Events’ in the sidebar. Then choose ‘Add new’, and fill in the details of your blog post, event, or resource. You can add an image or images by choosing ‘Add Media’. Then press the blue ‘publish’ button on the right-hand side of the page.
  • We’ll receive a notification to approve your post before it goes live. Once it goes live, you won’t be able to edit it, so make sure you’re happy with it before pressing ‘publish’.


Other Co-Creating Change news

  • The third and final round of Co-Creating Change Project Commissions closed on Mon 18th November, and we will be announcing the final cohort of successful commissions before Christmas. Meanwhile, you can read more about the first two cohorts of successful commissions here and here.


  • We’ll soon be sharing more details of plans for Growth & Replication Commissions, which will launch in the new year, and are designed to scale up and replicate successful existing co-creation methodologies in new contexts and locations.


  • We’re also working in the long term towards a big international showcase / marketplace of co-created methodologies in autumn 2021. We are currently figuring out what something like this might look like and how it might run. If you have any thoughts or inspirational ideas on this, please let us know.


  • Network member Kerry Morrison is leading a group of network members in co-writing a Code of Ethics for co-created practice. This work is happening in various parts of the country during spring 2020. If you’re not already involved in this but would like to me, let us know, and we can put you in touch with Kerry.


  • Money is available for other training and workshops led by members for members. If there is a strand or idea that you think it would be useful to push forward in Co-Creating Change, and you want some budget to make it happen – let us know.


  • There are some changes coming up in the Co-Creating Change team. Liz is going on maternity leave from mid-January, and so we are looking for someone to act as a maternity cover Co-Creating Change Project Director during 2020. Maddie is also leaving Battersea Arts Centre at the end of December, so we are looking for a Co-Creating Change Project Manager to work on the project until its end date in autumn 2021.


Could either of those roles be you – or do you know someone who might be right for either role? There are more details of the job descriptions and how to apply on BAC’s Jobs page here. The closing date for Project Director is Monday 25th November – next Monday! – and Project Manager is 10th December.)

We’ll of course keep you updated on the new faces joining the team, but Marina will be continuing to work on the project, so you can always contact her, or, if you have a query and you’re not sure where to direct it.


Next network gathering

As mentioned above – the next Co-Creating Change network gathering will take place on Thursday 7th May 2020 at Battersea Arts Centre. Please save the date! And we’ll send round more detailed plans and information for this in the new year.


Meanwhile, a big thank you to everyone who made this month’s gathering come together – Letty Clarke and the team at Arnolfini, all the speakers and workshop leaders above, and, most importantly, everyone who attended. We had a brilliant day and we hope you did too, and we really look forward to continuing this conversation and working together to share practice and create change.



Marina, Liz and Maddie