Last month, Joseph Kendra, the Assistant Curator of Tate's Public Programmes team, invited you to tell us your ideas on the limitless brief of 'change', as part of BMW Tate Live's Thoughts Workshops. Now, with almost 200 of your ideas submitted, here's an update from Joseph and the project's Creative Directors

Quarantine, Kitchen Project 2012 Photo: Greg Akehurst
Inside Laura's kitchen in Manchester for Kitchen Project 2012 - a series of cookery classes in people's homes led by Rania Ho & Wang Wei of Arrow Factory Beijing

Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone who applied to take part in the BMW Tate Live Thought Workshops and shared with us their ideas on change. In selecting our ‘thought community’ of 36 participants, who will be exploring each other’s ideas in our workshops over the coming months, we were truly overwhelmed by the words, videos, images and even songs that we received - and we’re sorry that we couldn’t explore all of these great ideas in person with you. We’re now just a few days away from our first Thought Workshop on Saturday 27 July and really excited to meet the group (more on this in our next post) for the first time to start our journey together.

Richard Gregory and Renny O’Shea, of Quarantine who are the Creative Researchers for the Thought Workshops series, have been instrumental in planning the discussions and activities that the group will take part in on the day. I asked them a few questions about their experience of the project so far:

Hi Richard and Renny. 36 participants for the Thought Workshops have now been selected. What kinds of applications did you receive and what made a successful one?

There were nearly 200 applications in total. A couple of days after the deadline when you, Sandra Sykorova and Marko Daniel from the Public Programmes team came up to Manchester where we are based, and we spent a whole day sifting through them. Each application was read by at least two people and those that we liked we shared and discussed how they would work in the context of the group. The range of ideas was really exciting – from the personal to the global, about ecology, art, economics, language, education and much more. We mainly responded to originality of ideas but sometimes to the passion with which they were expressed. We tried to make a selection representative of the concerns shared by other applicants that we heard back from. For instance, if there were a number of people addressing a similar theme, it felt right that we should have them broadly represented by one voice. It was probably not scientific but it was our own clumsy attempt at a kind of democracy.

What do you hope that the group will achieve?

There’s a wealth of expertise in the group and we hope we can uncover it for everyone’s benefit. We really hope that these individuals will become a community – questioning, challenging and supporting each others’ ideas and offering practical suggestions. We may even accomplish some of the things that people want to change, or we’ll at least dig deeper into them, interrogate them a little and gain some clarity in the process.  

Is there anything that you can tell us about the first Thought Workshop at Tate Modern on 27 July?

We are really looking forward to our first meeting. We’ve invited philosopher Dr Michael Brady from the University of Glasgow to open up the debate about change and transformation and we’ll find ways for the group to share their ideas with each other and us. We also have Stephen Devine, Multimedia Developer at The Manchester Museum coming in to talk to us about how the group might work together in the time between our Thought Workshops – and of course we’ll have plenty of breaks and eat lunch and dinner together so we can get to know one another more informally.

You have said about your work that you ‘start with the people in the room.’ Could you tell us a little more about some of your other projects?

Quarantine make theatre, performance and other public events. It’s contemporary work responding to our questions about the world, right here, right now. There have been family parties, shared meals and cookery lessonskaraoke booths, radio broadcasts and journeys in the dark for one person at a time as well as performances on stage for audiences in seats. We’ve worked with philosophers, families, soldiers, chefs, children, florists, cleaners and countless others – as well as actors, dancers, musicians and opera singers.

Finally, if you had a year to change something, what would you do?

Where do we start? 

Richard says, right now, he’d change the government. Renny agrees but wonders what they might be replaced with!

Quarantine, Coming and Going, 2008 Photo: Simon Banham
Coming and Going was a 3 year project for Liverpool Capital of Culture with 147 artists, experts, activists and 'ordinary' people from 5 cities on the edge - Liverpool, Gdansk, Istanbul, Marseille and Naples, culminating in Liverpool

We look forward to sharing more information with you about the people taking part in the BMW Tate Live Thought Workshop series and their ideas of transformation and change once we have met them for the first time next week. Do keep an eye on this blog series over the coming months to find out more as the project develops.