At 11.30am today (Tuesday 18th April 2017) Theresa May announced a snap election. This was exactly 15 hours after our first a-n Artist-led Group Bursary ‘Artists as Political Activists’ meeting, the timing could not be more perfect.

We as a collective last night settled on dates that ran into the middle of June to undertake elements of the project. A decision that has since been revoked and changed at approximately 12.30pm today to fall in line with what is to be a quick, unpredictable and exciting election build up.

The country has never felt so unsettled, yet we as a group are existing in a City of Culture bubble currently filled with Lego daffodils and BBC Big Weekend mania. Hull has always been a Labour stronghold and has more recently been on the political media map as the city with the largest majority of EU leave voters. Yet the city is our home, where our collective live and work; it’s the cultural capital this year. These often feel like great juxtapositions of representations and are interesting to follow as artists living and working in Hull throughout the year.

Trawling through Twitter today at the #generalelection trend, it is clear to see how many young people feel impassioned to go out and vote on the 8th June. Enraged by the generation gap of the EU vote they seem to have awoken from the British politics slumber and rallied around to drum up spirits of hope and unity. We intend to attract these young people as part of the audience to our events, now programmed for every Friday evening in the lead up to the election. Applying for this a-n funded bursary, we outlined our intention to pose the question “do artists have a responsibility to challenge the status quo?”. In answering this question through our series of debates, we hope to have a conversation with these young people about these issues.

As a group Hack & Host intend to take on pre-existing political platforms like Question Time. We think less suits, more sequins; why not replace water glasses with cocktails and notepads of stats with sketch books and contemporary art references? We hope to create a platform through our series of debates in which the passionate youth will feel able to come out in force and discuss the urban environment, design and marketing, and culture and communication all in relation to the current political climate. As artists we hope to do so intelligently, and sensitively, but importantly, with humour. All of this will inform a brief for us, the artist collective, to respond to. We want to ignite open political debates within the arts in Hull.

Let’s just hope we don’t have eggs thrown.

By Kate West


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