The purpose of the project was to reimagine what a social community space could be if it freed itself from the need to generate an income. One of the remarks we heard again and again from visitors was how important it was to have a place to come to that didn’t cost them anything. Very few social spaces offer this and in austere times such as this they provide a vital service to the lonely and the vulnerable. We lost count of the amount of times people lamented that this was just a four week project, wishing a permanent space like this existed in the town centre.
The project has raised the visibility of the Chapel Arts Artists who up until now have been working from the chapel in St Mary’s cemetery. Creativity became a vehicle for conversation and as well as people having the opportunity to learn new skills, it also contributed to a sense of community amongst local people. Children had a safe place to play whilst parents and adults had a chance to put their feet up and breathe. No expectations were placed on anyone and all were welcome, it was a place to simply ‘be’.
Artists and volunteers have been working tirelessly over the past four weeks to deliver an ever-changing programme of workshops, exhibitions and events all with the intent of creating an all-inclusive space where people can come to think about what gives things value.
The Bureau was a pop-up shop for community rather than commerce; creativity and conversation was it’s currency. It was a public art project which allowed people to determine their own value systems. The sheer variety of what was on offer is mind-boggling and testament to the breadth of talent amongst CAS artists. There really was something for everyone.
Then there was the week that David Dixon transformed the shop into a sprawling cardboard cityscape made up of both fictional and real buildings created by the public and artist:
And as if that wasn’t enough, Susan Francis collected people’s stories of the night and transformed them into a late night performance 'Night Vision' using light, paper and olive oil.
Who knows what the future holds for Bureau of Exchange, our hope is that it will become a regular event, and if the reception of the people of Andover is anything to go by, this is their wish too. But for now all that remains is to say a huge heartfelt thank you to all the people that have come and taken part in the various activities and events and those that have supported us by spreading the word to others. The interactions between the artists and public have inspired and uplifted us, making all the hard work more than worth it.
Until next time Andover…