Imagine Wales

Outside Atrium

What could Wales look like under a different political structure?

That was the question considered at a research seminar at the University of South Wales's Cardiff campus, on Saturday 10 January 2015.

Guests heard from Ross Colquhoun and Miriam Brett from the National Collective, an organisation made up of artists and creative people which formed during Scotland’s recent referendum on independence.

The National Collective attracted more than 3000 members and emphasised the significance of the imagination as a key tool for social change - that an alternative society first needs to be imagined before it can be realised.

“The human imagination is powerful and transformative. The arts are the very fabric by which we see the world differently,” said Ross Colquhoun.

“People think politics has to be middle-aged guys in suits, but it doesn't have to be.”

Miriam Brett said:

“The ‘Yes’ campaigners weren't politicians. They were people tapping on doors. People volunteered for the cause, because they believed in it. They gave their time and energy. They gave us ways of not spending money.”

The event featured a panel discussion including singer/song writer Gwenno Saunders:

“Let's not forget that we have a long history in Wales of campaigning, of starting conversations; Welsh speakers and non-Welsh speakers have so much to share, and we can bridge the gap through new media. I think a campaign for independence would naturally unite people.”

Also on the panel was writer and Welsh language campaigner, Angharad Tomos, and Director of the Wales Governance Centre, Professor Richard Wyn Jones.

Angharad said:

“I've been waiting for this day for months: the artistic is political and the achievement of Scotland's National Collective proves that you need to make the political fun. I think we need to cause trouble!”

The event was hosted by the Centre for the Study of Media and Culture in Small Nations at USW and chaired by co-Director of the centre, Doctor Ruth McElroy:

“The debates provoked by the vote in Scotland are being felt across Britain, from Cameron’s 'English votes for English laws' to discussions here in Wales about further devolution. 

“The distance of Westminster from the lives of voters in many parts of Britain presents challenges as well as possibilities for those who want to ignite political engagement closer to home.

“The point of the event was not to come out in favour of or against either independence or the status quo, but to offer artists and creative people in Wales the opportunity to suggest, explore and reflect on new ways of imagining a different political future for our country.”

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