Welcome To Lancashire Arts Exchange 2021

Is it possible to keep doing things in the same way? That’s been the question on all of our minds over the last 18 months.

Though we’re all exhausted by the experience of the past eighteen months and filled with the desire to create together again, there’s no doubt that we have to rethink the way we do things, but we don’t have to throw everything out and start again.

After over a year of absences and sacrifices, we wanted this year’s Lancashire Arts Exchange – our seventh – to emphasize the presence of culture in our lives. Not just culture as we understood it before Covid, but what it is now and what it might become in the future.

This year’s theme, Augmented Creativity was developed to address this idea across all aspects of our programme – from the development of our partnership with Lancashire Encounter Festival to tie both events together, with one creative programme augmenting the other and one programme of artists sharing and enhancing the work and opportunities of the other; to the focus on the intersection of art and technology and the way technology can augment creativity; to the extension of our usual one-day line-up to a two week schedule of events and a scaled up programme of artist commissions, artist talks and workshops to boot.

Mindful that some of our colleagues and audience members may not be able, or may not yet be ready, to be amongst others, or to travel into Preston, this edition of the Arts Exchange has also been conceived as a hybrid event. If you can’t physically get to one of the events in person, we have aimed to offer an alternative way to view, listen and participate in the art, talks and workshops on offer at a distance, both during and after the Arts Exchange.  And, in recognition of an incredibly tough year for the arts sector, this year’s entire programme is completely free to attend and access.

Through this year’s programme, we seek to provoke dialogue, creation and research. At the core of our programme are four artistic commissions, each augmenting their creativity through technology.

Ali Matthews, Bobby, Lunch Is Darkness is a real treat and available as both an online and live screening. Ali also joins for a live Q&A session at The Harris and will be asking you to ‘Make Friends With The Ghost In The Machine’ in her in-person workshop about writing with AI. Make sure you book in advance for both events.

Chantal Oakes merges fine art with motion and film to create visual series, Still Lives, on show at The Harris. You can also listen to an interview with Chantal in a special podcast about her work.

Grass-roots arts collective, Knittaz With Attitude, an Aunty Social project, bring their incredible We’re Sew Done ‘tech-style’ installation to Preston Bus Station, offering two guided walk opportunities to find out how they mix textiles and tech and to learn more about the important messages behind We’re Sew Done.

And theatre-maker, Krissi Musiol, invites you to participate in Carried, an audio walk around the Flag Market. You can also listen to an interview with Chantal in a special podcast about her work, too.

In addition, you are invited to participate in Digital Democracy, a special workshop with Lancashire 2025 which explores the civic role of technology and asks what is the civic role of culture? And what examples of good practice are out there for systems for participation?

In preparing for the Arts Exchange, we have worked collaboratively with the artists above, as well as with Lancashire Encounter Festival, The Harris Museum, Lancashire 2025 and Preston Bus Station. We thank them all for their involvement.

Welcome to the Lancashire Arts Exchange 2021!

Alex O’Toole

Chair, Arts Lancashire


View the programme