Recommendation! Art of Invitation: Activating Ourselves and our Communities through Creative Engagement in Challenging Times – Course dates: Starts 26 February 2018

I’ve been working for years to find ways to support artists and the sustainable energy sector to work together to support the transition to a low carbon future for the UK and one of the most useful bits of training that I attended was this. I thoroughly recommend it and if you’re free in February/March. This should be on your list!

What is the Art of Invitation?

Art of Invitation looks creatively at how we can bring people together to collaborate, participate and actively engage in sharing stories, experiences and ideas in response to the urgent social and ecological challenges of our times, and creative transformative projects for positive change.

Art of Invitation explores artistic approaches that can engage communities in active participation, questioning dominant cultural narratives and the craft of making transformation happen.  The creative exploration and facilitation process asks these key questions:

• What are effective ways of bringing people of diverse ages and backgrounds together?
• How do we use active and creative participation as an essential craft?
• How do we invite people to join in?
• What it is like to live now?
• What do we need to flourish within the earth’s limits?
• How do we ground ourselves in a place of shared belonging?
• How do we develop people’s capacity and confidence to imagine and explore alternative, low-carbon futures, and then bring them into being?

What will the course include?

Art of Invitation facilitators Ruth Ben-Tovim (Encounters Arts) Lucy Neal (Playing for Time – Encounters Associate) and Anne-Marie Culhane (award-winning creative project designer and Encounters Associate) are pioneering artists who have all developed unique approaches to inviting people to respond creatively and dynamically to the urgent social and ecological challenges of our times. Our week of creative exploration will include inspirational case studies, specialist workshops and presentations, practical group work, celebration, solo reflection time, and 1:1 mentoring to develop your own practice and processes.

We will explore the importance of careful and creative project design as an integral part of the course and we will allocate time with you to exploring new ideas or to developing ideas you are already working on.

Who is the course for?

Art of Invitation is open to anyone interested in engaging people more creatively in response to social, cultural and ecological challenges. This includes community activists, social and community workers, artists, campaigners, researchers. Participants on a previous Art of Invitation course at Schumacher College included: Community workers, artists, facilitators, management consultant, producers, teachers & academics.

What will you be asked to think about?

• What concerns you and your community?
• What issues do you want to highlight?
• What skills exist in your community?
• How do participants create ownership of the work?
• How to effectively bring groups of people together and maintain their involvement
• How to inspire and reach and include more diverse groups of people

What will you gain?

You will acquire new skills to participate in, and influence, the process of change. Through tangible and imaginative ideas, making and thinking we seek to create engagement, action and knowledge for co-creating a life-sustaining society. You will come away with fresh insights and new creative tools that can resource you and the projects, communities and organisations that you are involved with and give you the confidence to create new ones.

Feedback from previous participants:

‘This course was so rich and powerful, It was a gorgeous, plentiful delight on all levels. The facilitators and teachers were quite remarkable and this week was without doubt the most powerful educative experience I have ever had.’

“Excellent/amazing course, carefully and skilfully crafted and hosted.”

“The course exceeded all expectations. The range of tutors created a very rich content yet with lots of space for us to contribute and have that contribution valued”

A little bit about the team:

Anne-Marie Culhane

Anne-Marie creates events, performances and long term projects that invite people into an active and enquiring relationship with each other and the land working as artist, activist and collaborator across a range of disciplines. Projects include Abundance (co-created with Stephen Watts), winner of Observer Ethical Award Grassroots project, 2010 and Eat Your Campus working with the School of the Arts & the Sustainability Team at Loughborough University, winner Guardian University Awards Sustainable Project 2014 and A Little Patch of Ground with Encounters Arts in 4 different UK cities. She has recently worked on residencies for CCANW (Soil Cultures), Exeter University on a residency with Professor Tim Lenton (Chair in Climate Change/Earth System Science) and a year-long project with 42 people exploring the food system from multiple perspectives by growing a 22-acre Field of Wheat together.

Ruth Ben TovimRuth Ben Tovim

Ruth is the founder of Encounters and since 2003 has used the transformational power of the arts to work creatively with thousands of people across the UK.  Ruth has delivered over 40 projects with Encounters, including representing the UK at the Venice Bienale of Architecture and creative projects for Liverpool Capital of Culture, inaugral commission for the Arts for Social change programme in Peterborough delivered by the  RSA, Creative Engagement for Atmos Totnes the UK’s first Community Right to Build Order, and Ageing Well Creative Consultation for Torbay Community Development Trust, commended in the 2016 Arts and Health South West Annual awards. Ruth also works as a freelance dramaturg and group facilitator.

Lucy NealeLucy Neal

Lucy Neal is a theatre maker and community activist, interested in how celebratory events act as a catalyst for change. Co-founder Director of the influential London International Festival of Theatre – LIFT (1981-2005), she has been an active player in the global grassroots Transition movement since 2008 and initiator of Transition Town Tooting.  Her recent book Playing for Time – Making Art As If the World Mattered, published in 2015, and co-written with 60 artists and activists, maps collaborative arts practices emerging in response to planetary challenges. Lucy is Happiness Associate of the Happy Museum Project, ( co-author of MMM’s Sustainable Ability ( and co-founder of The Case For Optimism ( She is co-author of The Turning World – stories from the London International Festival of Theatre (Gulbenkian) and was awarded an OBE in 2005 for services to drama.

This course is delivered in Association with the MA in Ecological Design Thinking

Fee:  £ 595.00
Course fees include private accommodation, all meals, field trips, materials and all teaching sessions. The programme will run from Monday to Friday afternoon, and includes four nights private accommodation and all vegetarian meals from the first lunchtime you arrive through until the lunchtime before your departure. We ask you to arrive between 11:30 – 1 on the first day of your course so that the group can begin the experience by dining together. We recommend attending this course as a fully residential participant however for you may choose to book as a non-residential participant. Please call 01803 847237 for more details. This course is part of Schumacher College’s MA Ecological Design Thinking postgraduate programme and is open to external participants.

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