Live stream timings

Session 1
Where are we now?
9.45.00 to 1.23.50

Session 2
Where does The Power sit?
2.39.20 to 3.35.20

Session 3
Future proofing socially engaged arts
3.57.30 to 5.15.20

Reflection set
5.15.30 to 5.34.00

Watch with captions

 Watch with BSL

Uncommon Ground was a one day symposium that took place on 22 March 2018,  exploring creative, cultural and artistic approaches to the challenges and issues of contemporary society and cultural democracy.

Across the globe creative practitioners are working with communities to co-create and co-produce, cutting across genres and challenging our understanding of the role of arts and culture in society.

As this sector continues to grow, Uncommon Ground provided an opportunity to share ideas and investigate what it means to create socially engaged art today. With perspectives from a diverse range of UK and international contributors, this one-day symposium intended to challenge perceptions, spark ideas and explore future potential.

Produced by Arts Council England, the British Council, and The Lowry.

Join the conversation online at #uncommon2018.

We are currently gathering feedback, thoughts and suggestions on Uncommon Ground through the online survey. If you attended in person or watched the livestream and would like to give your feedback, please follow the link below.


Uncommon Ground took place on the 22 March 2018 at The Lowry, Salford

Uncommon Ground took place in The Quays Theatre at The Lowry, Salford. The Lowry is a world-class combined arts centre based at the core of Salford’s creative and cultural quarter, Media City UK. It produces and presents a diverse programme of artistic work all year around and at the heart is a commitment to its local communities and young people through its flagship programmes of socially engaged practice.

The agenda of speakers at #Uncommon2018 on 22 March 2018

Meet and Share — Pier Eight bar

9:30 — 10:30am

Pick up your delegate pass, put your bag & coat in the cloakroom, grab a drink and get set for the day as artists Splash and Ripple invite you to spend 20 minutes creatively making connections & sharing stories with your fellow delegates.

Your hosts: Nasima Begum & Ben Mellor

Session 1: Where are we now?

10.45 am — 12:15pm

What does it mean in modern society to use social engagement as a primary medium, putting collaboration, co-design and co-creation at the heart of the matter?

Lemn Sissay Eileen Sanabria, UNIAL, Cuba Scottee Ketevan Zazanashvili, Georgian National Wheelchair Dance Federation David Jubb, Battersea Arts Centre

Lunch — Quays Bar

12:20 — 1:20pm

Be part of > thread {} and have your bio-data captured and collated into a group digital bio-artwork, which will be shared to all delegates after the symposium.

Session 2: Where does The Power sit?

1:20 — 2:10pm

An interactive panel debate

 Power is often referenced in relation to socially engaged arts; most often in the ethics of relationships between artists and 'participants' or between funders and artists. Yet we often also talk about the 'Power' of the arts as a force for good or the 'Powerful' impact of creative processes on people's live. Today’s debate aims to explore all areas of this subject.

Henri Imoreh, The Agency Alistair Hudson, Whitworth Art Gallery Anjana Luitel, Women of World, Nepal Clare Reddington, Watershed Matt Woodhead, Lung

Chaired by, Lynsey O’Sullivan, The Lowry

To have your say, you can join the debate by asking questions on twitter: #uncommon2018


2:10 — 2:30pm

Session 3: Future proofing socially engaged arts

2:30 — 3:35pm

What are the priorities, where are the opportunities and how do we navigate the challenges over the coming years?  

Evie Manning, Common Wealth Patrick Fox, Heart of Glass Chloe Meineck, Studio Meinack Abdullah Al-Kafri, Ettijahat Jackie Hagan

Reflection set

3:35 — 4:00pm

Final thoughts on Uncommon Ground

 Alison Clark, Arts Council England Basma El Husseiny, Action for Hope, Cairo Sarah Emmott, Art with Heart Tom Spencer, Terrestrial Stephen Stenning, British Council

Networking Drinks Pier Eight Bar

4:00 — 5.30pm

Finish your day with a drink in Pier 8 Bar and download the debate from the day

Evie Manning
Common Wealth Theatre

Evie Manning

Evie is Co-Artistic Director of Common Wealth, an award winning theatre company making site-specific theatre. For Common Wealth director credits include, We’re Still Here (National Theatre Wales), The Deal Versus The People (West Yorkshire Playhouse), No Guts, No Heart, No Glory, (Scotsman Fringe First Award / Live From TVC with BBC4), Our Glass House (Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award). As a freelancer, Evie has collaborated and made work with Manchester International Festival, The Royal Exchange, Battersea Arts Centre, Tamasha, Chris Goode and Company, Transform Festival and Southbank Centre. Evie is a founding member of Speakers Corner Collective, a political, creative, social space in Bradford co-led by a collective of young women.

Patrick Fox
Heart of Glass

Patrick Fox

Patrick Fox is director of Heart of Glass, a national agency for collaborative and social arts practice based in St Helens, Merseyside. He is former director of Create, Ireland’s national development agency for Collaborative Arts. He is a producer, commissioner and senior arts leader who supports artists to engage with communities of place/ interest to create contemporary work that reflects the politics of our times. He is a founder of Collaborative Arts Partnership Programme, a four-year programme of transnational work focusing on models of social arts practice across Europe. He is interested in expanding critical discourse and supporting the development of policy and infrastructure around collaborative and social arts practice. He was also the former Head of Collaborations and Engagement at FACT Liverpool, leading the acclaimed arts and older people project tenantspin as part of his portfolio.

Jackie Hagan
Poet / Playwright / Performer

Jackie Hagan

Jackie Hagan is an award-winning poet, playwright and performer, and a working-class queer amputee. Her first solo show 'Some People Have Too Many Legs' won the Saboteur 'Best Spoken Word Show' 2015 award and a Creative Futures literary award. Her second show 'Cosmic Scallies' was lauded by the press and published by Nick Hern Publishing. She is currently working with Hattrick Productions on a sitcom about two disabled best friends, writing a play for children (commissioned by Contact Theatre) and touring her current solo show 'This is Not a Safe Space'. Last year she received a Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship, represented the UK in an international poetry slam in Rio and was the focus of a channel 4 short documentary. She runs weekly poetry workshops for isolated adults.

Abdullah AlKafri
Ettijahat (Syria)

Abdullah AlKafri

A playwright and cultural activist, who works as a trainer in topics related to the field of culture with many organizations. A regular participant at conferences and forums on culture and art. He is a founding member and Executive Director of Ettijahat- Independent Culture: a Syrian cultural organization founded in the end of 2011 seeks to play a pivotal role in building a Syrian culture that is dynamic, democratic and diverse, taking into account the challenges experienced by Syrian society, through creating sustainable opportunities for artists, researchers and cultural operators, and enhancing the environment and forms of cultural expression, in addition to integrating creative work with social change. Abdullah graduated in Theatrical Studies from the High Institute of Dramatic Arts, Damascus, 2004 and completed his Master’s study at Saint Joseph University, Beirut, in the same field in 2015. He is currently a PhD Student at Saint Joseph University, Beirut, Lebanon.

Matt Woodhead

Matt Woodhead

Matt Woodhead is the Artistic Director of LUNG, who are Associate Artists at The Lowry. Making theatre by communities, for communities and with communities, LUNG is a national touring theatre company, developing innovative and politically driven work that broadens horizons and investigates modern Britain. Matt has directed and co-written ‘The 56’, ‘E15’ [co-written with Helen Monks] and ‘Chilcot’ [co-written with Richard Norton Taylor] and ‘Who Cares’. All have been published with Oberon Books and have toured nationally. ‘The 56’ was adapted for BBC Radio 4 earlier this year. Matt was recently the Trainee Director at West Yorkshire Playhouse and was the winner of the Director’s Guild Award Best Newcomer 2015.

David Jubb
Battersea Arts Centre

David Jubb

David Jubb is a theatre producer. He has been Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Battersea Arts Centre since 2004, sharing the Joint Artistic Directorship with David Micklem from 2008-2012. Battersea Arts Centre’s cause is to inspire people to take creative risks to shape the future. Under David’s leadership the organisation has launched a productions programme and national touring network, produced a new strand of live performance for BBCFour and BBC Two, led a national development programme for museums and created the BAC Moving Museum, introduced an innovative series of social change programmes including The Agency, signed a 125-year lease on Battersea’s former Town Hall, delivered an innovative £13m renovation project in partnership with Haworth Tompkins, reimagined the organisation’s operating and programme model, and increased turnover from £1.5m to £4m.

Lynsey O’Sullivan
The Lowry

Lynsey O’Sullivan

Lynsey O’Sullivan is an Applied Theatre practitioner with national and international experience of working with vulnerable children and young people using theatre as a tool for positive social change. Lynsey is currently the Director of Learning & Engagement at The Lowry where she leads a cross-arts programme of socially engaged practice with children, young people and local communities; with a specific focus on working with young carers, looked-after children, young parents, and young people experiencing homelessness in Salford. Lynsey is particularly interested in how we can puncture the bubble and step outside of our own sector to champion arts and culture as part of a statutory approach to tackling social challenges; working in partnership with health, education, sport and voluntary organisations to address poverty of opportunity, socio-economic deprivation, health and wellbeing and life chances for young people.

Anjana Luitel
WOW Kathmandu

Anjana Luitel

Anjana Luitel is a feminist activist educator from Nepal. She is passionate about feminist and social justice agendas and has keen interests in lived learning experiences and it’s documentation through feminist participatory approach. She is a Board of Director at Hamro Chahana Nepal an organization that aims at enabling young women to enhance their individual and collective capacities. She has contributed to young feminist agendas in Nepal and has led different initiatives through different networks and organization. She is a curator for WOW Kathmandu for talks and workshops since 2017 and has the overall responsibility of ensuring gender sensitivity and inclusivity at the festival. She has a Masters degree in Human and Natural Resource Studies from Kathmandu University.

Alistair Hudson
Whitworth / MAG

Alistair Hudson

Alistair Hudson was appointed the Director of Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art in October 2014. His vision for mima is based on the concept of the Useful Museum, as an institution dedicated to the promotion of art as a tool for education and social change. For the preceding ten years he was Deputy Director of GrizedaleArts in Coniston in the Lake District, which gained critical acclaim for its radical approaches to working with artists and communities, based on the idea that art should be useful and not just an object of contemplation. He is co-director of the Asociación de Arte Útil with Tania Bruguera –an expansive international project and online archive that forms part of the Uses of Art programmes with the L’internationale confederation. In February 2018 he became Director of The Whitworth and Manchester Art Galleries.

Ben Mellor
Writer / Performer / Facilitator

Ben Mellor

Ben is an award-winning writer, performer and facilitator who has worked in theatres, festivals, schools, colleges and prisons nationally and internationally. He has created six touring theatre shows and published two poetry collections, with accompanying spoken word albums.  Ben has featured on BBC Radio 4, 4 Extra, the World Service and has had writing published by Poetry Review, Route, Corporatewatch, Puppywolf, Tongue Fu and Inc Magazine.  He has facilitated workshops with hundreds of people of all ages and backgrounds in partnership with a number of nationally recognised arts organisations. Ben is currently Youth Theatre Director with Collective Encounters.

Chloe Meineck
Studio Meineck

Chloe Meineck

Chloe Meineck is the Director of Studio Meineck, a social design studio based in Bristol. They blend co-creation, craft and technology to develop beautiful products that benefit people’s lives. The studio is particularly interested in how objects can help sense of identity, how technology can be used in compassionate ways, and how anyone can become part of the design process. Their first intervention is the award-winning Music Memory Box for people living with dementia and their family, which was co-created on many national and international residencies with people living with dementia + their families in the UK and in Japan. Trove their second product is designed with and for children in care and adopted children to help children be in control of their own life story and memories.

Clare Reddington

Clare Reddington

Clare joined Watershed in 2004 and as Creative Director leads the Pervasive Media Studio, Playable City, engagement and cinema teams, working with industry, academic and creative partners from around the world to support talent and champion new ideas. Clare is a Visiting Professor at University of the West of England. She sits on the Boards of Theatre Bristol and RSC and is Chair of Emma Rice's Wise Children

Lemn Sissay MBE

Lemn Sissay MBE

Lemn Sissay MBE is the author of several books of poetry alongside articles, records, public art, and plays. He was the official poet for the London Olympics. His Landmark Poems are installed throughout Manchester and London in venues such as The Royal Festival Hall and The Olympic Park. Bishop Desmond Tutu unveiled his landmark poem Gilt of Cain. Lemn was official poet for The FA Cup 2015. His Desert Island Discs was pick of the year for BBC radio 4 2015.  His is Chancellor of the University of Manchester. His life story is nothing short of incredible. Google “Lemn Sissay” and all the returning hits will be about him. There is only one Lemn Sissay in the world. Lemn is associate artist at Southbank Centre, patron of The Letterbox Club and The Reader Organisation. 

Nasima Begum
Poet / Producer / Facilitator

Nasima Begum

Nasima Begum is a poet, producer and facilitator. She was recently commissioned by Contact and Arts Council England with Young Identity to co-write and perform in a play. She was also commissioned by Commonword to write and perform a monologue as part of Black Gold Arts Festival 2017. She is currently working as a Youth Project Coordinator at the Manchester Bangladeshi Women’s Organisation, whilst producing for Contact’s in the city programme with Recon; Contacts Young Programming and Producing Company. 

Ketevan Zazanashvili

Ketevan Zazanashvili

Ketevan Zazanashvili is the Founder of Georgian National Wheelchair Dance Sport Federation.  Originally a ballroom dancer and today a wheelchair dance sport trainer, she became interested in inclusive dance as a result of Candoco performances and trainings in Tbilisi in 2013. She is currently working with a group of disabled and non-disabled dancers that she has brought together to work on their first ever inclusive dance performance in Georgia. Her ambition is to found the first Georgian inclusive dance company – TID Co.(Tbilisi Inclusive Dance) after the premier of the performance. In October 2017 the British Council supported Keti with a one-week residency to develop her professional skills in inclusive dance at Stopgap Dance Co. UK.

Artist / Activist


Scottee is not easily definable; artist, activist and troublemaker. His work is brash, clumsy and will often leave you a bit annoyed, overwhelmed but never impartial. In 2010, as an emerging artist Scottee won the title of Time Out Performer of the Year - since then he has been creating provocative work for audiences across UK, Europe, Australia, Japan and the US. His debut solo tour The Worst of Scottee won the prestigious Total Theatre Award in 2014. Most recently he was included on Independent's Rainbow List as one of Britain's most influential LGBTQI+ people. Scottee is co-host on BBC Radio 4’s Loose Ends. In 2015 Scottee's debut radio documentary My Big Fat Documentary was made BBC Radio 4’s Documentary of the Week. Scottee has since then appeared on Front Row, BBC Radio 3’s The Verb & Free Thinking, BBC World Service and BBC Radio 1.


Thread {}

Thread {}

Thread {} is a new generative textile collaboration by artists Vicky Clarke, Sally Gilford, Cheryl O’Meara. During the symposium, Thread { } will invite you to explore your own personal biodata patterns using their pioneering techniques. If you accept the invitation you will be wired to a pulsometer and your biodata will interact with graphical code to generate a unique motif. This motif will be projected on the big screen, and captured and collated into a group digital bio-artwork, which will be shared to all delegates after the symposium. The artists will be on hand to discuss their work and how these innovative techniques have led to strong positive individual outcomes with the groups they have engaged with.

Splash and Ripple

Splash and Ripple

Splash & Ripple make experiences that transport people from their normal everyday lives to an extraordinary space where they can play with new ways of thinking, feeling and being. The most important ingredients they use to do this are audience agency, interactivity and embodiment. Their mission is to make beautiful, genuinely moving experiences that put the participants at the centre of the action using different combinations of theatre, game mechanics and screenless digital technology.