A Changemaker is someone who takes creative action to solve a social problem.
The Liberty UK Changemakers project worked with a group of young people, aged 13 -25 from Leicester, who came together to learn about social justice, social action, and how to achieve positive action campaigns through art and culture.
The project started as a 5-week training programme during which participants learned how to develop their own powerful social action campaigns that ended in an exhibition of their work across Leicester city centre.
The workshops focused on developing the basic skills and researching the information you need to run a successful campaign. Participants were invited to explore the issues that matter to them most, learned how to set goals and how to identify allies to support their campaigns. The Changemakers were then invited to learn about print and design processes at Leicester Print Workshop ahead of creating their own large-scale placards for the exhibition.
Working with selected social action artists the participants also learned about the history of art and activism and then combined their campaigns to contribute to one large-scale exhibition.
Liberty UK Changemakers Leaders included artists:
Laura De Moxom, a mixed media photographic artist who frequently performs with the Red Brigade as part of Extinction Rebellion demonstrations.
Sophie Yeats Lu, a survivor activist who is passionate about working with LGBTQ+ and POC survivors to support them to use storytelling in campaigning.
Nonhlanhla Makuyana, one of the co-founders of Decolonising Economics, a grassroots collective working to build a new-economy movement that is rooted in racial justice and decolonial struggle.
Suzanne Stallard, who since taking part in her first exhibition as part of International Women’s Day in the late 80’s has been involved in activism, learning through her visits to Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp and through writing letters on behalf of Amnesty International.
After the initial 5-week programme the Changemakers were invited to extend their art activism experiences by supporting Artists Yara + Davina on their newly commissioned social-action project, Slow Down. Commmissioned by Art Reach as part of the Liberty EU programme, Slow Down explored the concept of crossing metaphorically – specifically considering the crossing from isolation back into social society following the pandemic – and of slowing down, asking what it means to stop and pay attention, alongside the literal freedom of one’s movement: To stop or be allowed to cross the road.
Slow Down was a live intervention that used the traditional concept of the Lollipop Lady, or Street Crossing Patrol person as they are now known, to guide people out of isolation back into social society, pausing to reflect on social issues that we are currently grappling with. Custom lollipop sticks were created with alternative messages used to engage members of the public inviting them to Slow Down, pay attention and have conversations with the team, about the things they care about the most.
Miniature edible versions of the lollipops were created and handed out to the public. Slow Down was an amazing extension to the work of the Liberty Changemakers project, providing practical experience for the Changemakers to learn how to engage audiences and have important conversations with members of the public.
As part of a series of workshops, with the Values Group in Leicester, they explored different messages that could be shared on the lollipop sticks, planned and delivered their own workshops, and selected the final messages for the lollipop sticks.
The Changemakers then progressed onto the public stage of the project, engaging members of audiences at Liberty UK Festival events in Halton, Corby and Leicester. The Changemakers project grew from a 5-week programme to months of extended engagement with the team who gained first-hand experience of art workshop delivery, creative activism and festival event management across 2020 and 2021.
Slow Down was commissioned for the Liberty UK Festival as part of the Liberty EU Programme. Liberty EU was Co-Funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.