“I made a point of not finding out the election results and I made it all the way to here – I wanted to see if I could read it in people’s faces – and I couldn’t read anything. It wasn’t until I learned what the result was that I thought – now that makes sense.”
Rivca Rubin’s introductory statement perhaps summed up the feelings of celebration, trepidation, confusion and expectation among those who had gathered for the ‘Post-election breakfast’ session – part of the second day of a-n’s Assembly event in Bristol.
We’d come to the Brunswick Club in the city to hear speakers Kayle Brandon, Louisa Fairclough, Fozia Ismail and Alistair Gentry discuss topics that ‘can sometimes mean having to have a difficult conversation’ – feeling you have the right to make art, gentrification, being in the minority in the place where you live, and feeling you have the right to ‘rock the boat’.
But Rubin said she’d like to start off by reflecting on the previous day’s election with “a space for people to say what’s on your mind. What are you feeling about this?” Here we share some of those reflections. (Comments have been kept anonymous as speakers didn’t introduce themselves before offering their thoughts.)
- “Amazing result – short of an outright victory, this is a victory for the left. I feel like the right wing of the Labour Party wanted this to be the end of Corbyn, they wanted to be able to say there is no appetite for these policies in Britain. They can’t do that because there is clearly an appetite for these polices so I’m emphatically happy this morning.”
- “I’m really inspired because 72% of 18-25 year olds turned out to vote as to me that offers massive hope for the future. We’ve had all this talk about how apathetic young people are. I got involved in campaigning and it was entirely led by young people, they mobilised in less than eight weeks and created a movement and I’m massively impressed by what young people have done.”
- “I’m wondering how we might mobilise the Bristol bubble. I did quite a lot of campaigning to try to get the Bristol North West seat (for Labour) which we did, but when you see the map – we are surrounded by this huge sea of blue. Doing doorstepping you get to understand who you are surrounded by. We’ve got this huge energy in Bristol and I wonder how we can make our bubble bounce.”
- “I come from East Anglia and there are bubbles there like Ipswich and Norwich which are both Labour, but they are surrounded by solid blue. For an artist to live and try to work in those places – when they are in enemy territory or it feels like you are besieged – it’s a potentially difficult but also a potentially very fruitful place for an artist be. Maybe we can move on from that idea of being besieged and actually integrate and move out a little bit.”
- “I don’t feel besieged I just think there is a bubble of energy here [in Bristol]. You have to start by expanding your own bubble, and then we can join some up and who knows… the bubbles can get a bit louder.”
- “Let’s just suppose that what happened yesterday could be seen as just the first step, a little doorway opening up. What’s started isn’t finished. Young people may have taken their first step on this journey. It’s so gratifying – being an older person – to see that.”
- “It’s valuable to think about our own bubbles, but if you stand back and think of it as a bigger picture, what would be the role of artists in a process where you have an election, you are then forced into another one and possibly even another after that. And in the midst of all this there is all this racism and xenophobia, all this Brexit stuff – we’ve got to get on to a bigger platform, so I’m asking what could be the role of artists in helping to be communicators, to keep the focus on the big issues that are really important and get the focus off these politicians who want to define our world in a very narrow way?”
Book your tickets for a-n’s Assembly Newcastle, currently taking place at venues around Newcastle upon Tyne, including: Artists, places and spaces 6-9pm 13 June at Cobalt Studios; Ask a-n – advice and guidance surgery, 2-4pm, 14 June, Ampersand Inventions; and Here and now 6-9pm, 14 June, The NewBridge Project. Full details and book information here