STBY recently returned to Heartlands, reprising our role as inclusive design consultants at this large-scale regeneration project in Cornwall. This time we were asked to help design a collaborative workshop to help provoke new thinking on what the future should hold for the project. Organised along the themes of Art, Culture and Society, the event brought together academics, designers, and local stakeholders to look how arts and culture can help include local communities in the design process – and even help strengthen these communities in doing so.
Several conclusions were drawn from this, including the positive role Performance, Storytelling, and Film can all play in facilitating more effective engagement. These were then applied to the next question to be addressed: what can Heartlands learn from prior experience when planning for the future?
Here, the focus was placed upon whether arts and culture could – or even should – continue to make active and forceful contributions to Heartland’s future development. Discussions evolved from the starting point of whether culture is becoming more inherently democratic, moving on to first establish exactly how arts and culture could contribute to the management and programming of Heartlands, before subsequently attempting to frame exactly what such contributions would entail.
These focused, in-depth discussions were designed to provide the Heartlands leadership team with workable opportunities to develop a more democratic approach to their engagement with the public. By generating focused opportunities in an inherently democratic way, it was moreover demonstrated that inclusive design techniques can both facilitate and ideate community involvement.
A more in-depth account of the Creative Conversations event can be found in the final report documenting its findings, a PDF copy of which can be downloaded here.