The Movement for Cultural Democracy (MCD) calls on people and groups interested in transforming cultural production to join our campaign for twenty-first century cultural democracy.
Join the MCD (it’s free) to:
Campaign for more inclusive, democratic and sustainable ways of organising cultural production. Only a radical shift to a system based upon the principles of cultural democracy can enable this. There is growing disquiet over elitism, inequality, precarity and environmental collapse and the cultural sector’s role in these. Yet there is still not nearly enough action to address these important issues. MCD exists to help create the democratic public spaces where this harmful situation can be more openly and collectively addressed, and alternatives put into action.
Challenge the current inequitable, hierarchical and damaging forms of cultural organisation that still dominate the cultural sector. MCD campaigns for greater devolution and collective control of the means of cultural production, at national, regional and local levels. MCD supports increased grassroots involvement, collective decision-making and greater community ownership of the means of cultural production. We need spaces and places in which everyone can take part in genuinely self-determined forms of cultural production. Many of these places and spaces of collective cultural production – particularly those in less affluent areas – have been lost because of cuts. This has disenfranchised large numbers of people. We need to reclaim our social, public and online spaces and radically expand public involvement in decision making about cultural funding and production, at local, regional and national levels. By affirming the agency of people, local communities and marginalised groups who are not already cultural sector ‘insiders’ and calling for changes in the conditions in which culture is produced, MCD is ultimately supporting the development of more inclusive, democratic, just and sustainable ways of living and being together. This includes calling for organisations to accurately representing the populations they serve.
Organise as a movement in as non-partisan, collective and democratic ways as possible. We do this on a devolved and networked basis, encouraging local and regional meetups, community-level, national and international collaboration, public debate, alliance and solidarity building, and collective action. This could involve mobilising a group of local organisations to ensure a youth arts club doesn’t get axed or challenging national funding bodies to make sure that budgets are more democratically allocated.
We campaign for greater public power and democracy.
We welcome members from the arts, cultural and heritage sector and anyone who appreciates the importance of culture to our everyday lives, communities and society.
TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY CULTURAL DEMOCRACY
Taking a lead from the Cultural Policy Collective (2004), as well as long line of other activist groups, campaigners and voices stretching back many decades, the MCD understands cultural democracy in terms of a challenging of the destructive influence of the managerialism and market discipline, racism, classism, sexism, ableism and all other forms of discrimination. Cultural democracy is not the domain of a single political party, organisation or political persuasion; it has a long and diverse heritage; and its proponents exist in many contexts.
Cultural democracy has its roots in cultural production – in the struggle by artists, cultural workers, and other citizens and groups involved in challenging the status quo and demanding equitable access to the means of cultural production for everyone and to call for more democratic and participatory forms of cultural decision-making.
The Movement also continues to build on long-standing debates about public access to culture. Rather than arguing for the further democratisation of elite cultural forms which, whilst claiming to be inclusive, can perpetuate a hierarchy of cultural value, MCD understands that it is only by acknowledging and fully investing in the full extent of our cultural practices, cultural backgrounds and imaginations and how they are part of who we are, our everyday lives, our communities and our society, that we can overcome our present inequitable cultural situation.
This is why MCD highlights the lack of public spaces where people can produce culture today, for themselves and each other. It’s also why MCD calls for greater public representation in cultural decision making – particularly about national and regional funding priorities and in local communities.
The ways that cultural production is currently organised therefore needs to dramatically change. Production should enshrine basic equalities, respect for life, and the protection and renewal of the planet. Our cultural infrastructure in the 21st Century needs to be re-thought and re-organised so it can help support and sustain vital social, cultural and environmental relationships. Such relationships cannot and will not ever be produced by increasing current forms of cultural production. The changes we need extend far beyond making our current forms of cultural production more ‘accessible’ and what our current ‘cultural industries’, ‘cultural sector’ and ‘creative economy’ can deliver. Instead, we need to collectively create a cultural democracy.
ABOUT THE MOVEMENT FOR CULTURAL
Founded in 2016, MCD emerged from a series of meetings and events organised by a group of people who shared a set of concerns about the inequities of contemporary culture and about how these inequities connect with our existing dysfunctional forms of democracy, politics and cultural production. Version 1.0 of the ‘Manifesto for Cultural Democracy’ was the result of these initial meetings. Since 2016, MCD members have continued to meet on an ad hoc basis to further refine the manifesto (see version 2.0), discuss aspects of the campaign in more detail and to produce proposals for change. We have already successfully influenced Arts Council England’s thinking in terms of rebalancing cultural funding and its Creative People and Places programme.