Citizens’ Assembly: Art for the People (Video: Talking Birds)
In parallel with Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture 2021 (UK CoC 2021), a partnership led by Talking Birds organised and held an arts, culture and creativity based Citizens’ Assembly entitled Art for the People.
Fifty residents, broadly representative of the city, were selected from across the city to explore the question: how will arts, culture and creativity shape a better future for Coventry?
The Citizens’ Assembly met between 26 October and 28 November 2021 and reported its recommendations in mid-December 2021.
What is a Citizens’ Assembly?
A Citizens’ Assembly is a deliberative democracy format which brings together a representative sample of people to learn about an issue and then, based on their discussions, make recommendations to those who have called the Assembly, often policy makers.
It is an effective way to involve residents in policy or decision making about issues that will affect them or the area where they live.
Janet at Talking Birds contextualising the Assembly and Arts & Culture (Video: Talking Birds)
The Talking Birds team and partners worked hard to design the Citizens’ Assembly, including recruitment of a cross-section of Coventry residents, identification of questions for discussion and selection of speakers with varied viewpoints who would inform the debate.
The Assembly participants worked together over a period of six weeks. They listened to the varied opinions of expert witnesses, and they also listened to their peers – people they had not met before taking part in the Assembly. They debated together – discussing the issues, talking about change. They imagined a better future for Coventry and drew up and voted on a series of recommendations.
It is still possible to follow the Assembly, as blog posts were made following daily sessions that provide details of questions and discussions and include YouTube videos of speakers.
In December 2021, a report was published that detailed recommendations from the Citizens’ Assembly.
They were designed to clearly sketch a better future for Coventry: one which is green in every sense and offers a democratic, regenerative, generous, equitable and collaborative life for all its citizens; where there is a real democracy of access to the arts as creator, participant and audience; a city that is a pleasant place to live – verdant, green, welcoming and future-facing; and where the arts are fully integrated into all communities.
The recommendations were presented to Coventry’s Cultural Compact and some of the ideas were incorporated into the city’s Cultural Strategy refresh.
The Citizens’ Assembly was created by Talking Birds, with MutualGain and The Sortition Foundation and supported by Coventry City of Culture Trust, Arts Council England, Coventry City Council and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.
The text, videos and report presented on this page were taken from the Talking Birds webpages that tell the story of the Citizens’ Assembly.