On the day the Brexit vote was announced, I was sitting in Central Saint Martins. In front of me, some students were busily making banners. The next time I saw them was a few hours later, on UK TV news, then on CNN and then on the front page of the New York Times. It was CSM students who were the first face of the protest against Brexit. I felt both inordinately proud of them, and for the need to follow their example, to take some action: Creative Unions is the result.
Though initially spurred by Brexit, Creative Unions now – following the election of Donald Trump – is situated in a wider political landscape or to be more accurate in what is desperately called a post-political landscape.
The basic premise of Creative Unions is that creativity by necessity and inclination works across borders – geographical borders, social borders, disciplinary borders. If both Trump and Brexit appear to be determinedly erecting border controls across all these fields, then Creative Unions is the space where we can operate in an open and generous manner.
Creative Unions provides a platform where, against the post-everything tendencies, knowledge, expertise, truth and criticality are taken seriously, given a voice, and engaged with democratically. Over time, I hope that Creative Unions will become a gathering point for the cultural sector to make its multiple voices heard in order to demonstrate the transformative role that the arts and design can play in the current political scenes.
Head of Central Saint Martins
Pro Vice-Chancellor, University of the Arts London