Screen captured from Webinar

British Council through Developing Inclusive Creative Economy (DICE) partnering with the West Java Tourism and Culture Office and the West Java Creative Economy and Innovation Committee (KREASI Jabar) in organizing a webinar entitled "Hubs Supporting Local Communities & Social Impact". This webinar invited Catherine Rogers (Haarlem Artspace, UK), Camille Albarracin (Everything Green, Philippines)and Gesyada Siregar (Gudskul, Indonesia) to share their creative hub efforts in creating an inclusive and socially impactful creative ecosystem.

The first panelist was Catherine Rogers, co-director of Haarlem Artspace based in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, England. Wirksworth is a historical rural area that was once a lead mining center. Haarlem Artspace itself occupied a former coal-powered mill that was built in 1777. In response to this rural context, Haarlem Artspace has been championing rural contemporary art through programs such as exhibitions, residencies, workshopsand publications.

Haarlem Artspace was established as a company in 2017. This endeavor has provided opportunities for artists, creative businesses, curators and other creative workers to meet, shareand collaborate. As a member of Leicestershire County Council’s local economic development team, one of the challenges that Catherine often found is the divide between the arts and creative industries.

“One of the reasons why Haarlem Artspace is successful is that we welcome everybody working within the creative industry, artistsand cultural workers. We can see how innovation and creative ideas that artists bring is the same innovation and creative spark from the creative industry. Together, that really has an impact socially,” said Catherine.

One of Haarlem Artspace’s programmes is also a part of DICE programme, which is a long-term collaboration project with Instituto Procomum, a creative hub based in Santos, Brazil. The project invited black artists, women artistsand artists from the LGBTQ community to join a residency programme with collectivism as its foundation. Rather than individual works, the residency prioritizes open dialogues between artists as well as collaborative studio works.

One of Haarlem’s latest initiatives in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement is the Haarlem Manifesto. “Having our manifesto on (our) website has been an incredible change for us to be very exposed to what we believe in,” said Catherine, “Celebrating diversity, respecting differenceand promoting equality and opportunity is what is important for us,” she added.

The second panelist was Camille Albarracin, founder of the eco-social enterprise Everything Green. Camille has been working in the hospitality industry for fifteen years. Boracay, where she is currently based, is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the Philippines. Camille has witnessed a distressingly large amount of waste that come from the hotels and their guests,mostly hotel slippers. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 5,700 Metric Tonnes of hotel waste being produced in the country every month, among which are 4,8 million pairs of hotel slippers. This is when the idea of Green-ne-las, an alternative product of slippers made from compostable agricultural waste, was first conceived.

Everything Green employed artisans from the Kabihug Tribe, an indigenous group originating from Camarines Norte, Bicol. They used a native plant called abacá, also famously known as the Manila Hemp, to produce the slippers. Everything Green had also educated and employed women and people with disabilities alongside the increasing demands from local hotels. “We want to have that inclusive community where all members of society would actually be productive,” said Camille.

In their first year, Everything Green had sold 12,000 pairs of slippers, reduced 1,140 kilograms of wasteand supported the lives of 63 families from 3 different communities. In adapting to the current pandemic that has largely affected the industry, they have also produced bagsand shoes with help from artists with disabilities.

Camille then highlighted the importance of co-creation, co-design, collaborationand strong capacity development for the local communities and marginalized groups. “We want to give them value,” said Camille, “So they would understand that by being part of this project, they are actually part of the value chain.”



Screen captured from Webinar


Screen captured from Webinar

The third panelist was Gesyada Siregar, one of the subject coordinators in Gudskul, Jagakarsa, Jakarta Selatan. Gudskul was officiated in 2018 by three Jakarta-based art collectives, ruangrupa (2000), Serrum (2006)and Grafis Huru Hara (2012). Since 2015, the collectives have created a shared ecosystem by bringing together divisions, programs, projectsand ideas into one space. After occupying a new space in Jagakarsa, Gudskul initiated a new artistic and business model in the form of a 'school' for art collectives.

Gudskul has two main programs, a one-year ‘Contemporary Art Collective and Ecosystem Studies’and a two-month ‘Short Course’ that offers 25 different classes from art critique to fashion branding. Before the pandemic, there were approximately 100 people who work and partake in activities at Gudskul, from the management department, artists, curators, writersand other creative workers. Ever since the pandemic began, all activities had to be organized virtually whereGudskul has been able to reach 22 collectives from Sumatra to Nusa Tenggara for the Collective Study program.

Gudskul also initiated ‘Lumbung’ (a rice barn) as a concept for sustainability. The concept of ‘Lumbung’ synergizes surplus and deficits from each of divisions in Gudskul in the form of economy, knowledge and network – which can be ‘stored’ in one place where it will be shared and used together. Taking inspiration from a traditional Indonesian culture, lumbung is a place to store agricultural products, mainly rice, in a stilt house in the communitiy areas.

‘Nongkrong’ (hanging out) is a part of their daily lives. “Running a collective is a fluid process,” said Gesyada, “So it is okay to be disorganized.” This is mainly because Gudskul is accommodating people who come from different characters and backgrounds. It becomes a space that allows everyone to fail and try again in their own respective rhythms.

There was a question on how the hubs recorded and evaluated their social impacts, mainly because the hubs need to be accountable to their stakeholders, donors and networks. Catherine thought there is a short-term impact record, which includes quantitative reports, and a long-term one by nurturing relationships with the artists. Camille agreed with the quantitative and qualitative records by also highlighting the growth of productivity and potential upgrade in the artisan’s craftsmanship. While Gesyada highlighted the importance of attention, passion and nongkrong as a part of the learning process.