Building a picture of Britain in 2020

Here and Now is a national and local celebration of culture within communities. 40 new projects will take place in and around 40 arts centres across the country throughout 2020, led by artists and co-created with local people. Each project will tell the story of the place and the people, and a digital commission will tell the national story of the project, making it available to people across the UK and beyond.

Here And Now will examine communities’ hopes and dreams, aspirations and fears. Many participating venues will be looking at the role of the arts centre in a community, as a hub, as a space for expression, as an arena for discussion and reflection. The project will show the impact of the National Lottery on community life and arts, celebrating their 25th birthday.

With artworks as wide-ranging as an immersive Midlands Asian wedding experience to explorations of the concept of “home” for disabled and D/deaf communities, Here and Now is a hugely diverse project that establishes a new democractic template for arts commissioning, moving away from a top-down approach and towards a level-playing field, so everyone can feel involved in arts and culture.

Trust builds successful communities, With Here And Now, you will find something beautiful, new and unexpected. You may know someone who was involved in making it. You may have heard about it from someone you know and trust. You may experience a unique local occasion. All of these things will have come from your community, from people and places to whom you can relate. Here And Now will only ask that audiences are open and honest. The projects work under the idea that everyone involved should not be “grateful”, but truthful.

Artists and venues

Recognising the power imbalance in the traditional commissioning process, the Here and Now brief begins a process of handing over power and challenging centres, artists and audiences to try something new.

The initial brief for artists and arts centres was created during a week-long residency in 2019. A diverse group of renowned artists, representing varied artforms and communities, developed a creative framework for the programme:

Brigitte Aphrodite – poet, musician, writer and theatre-maker
Dawinder Bansal – producer and artist
ESKA – musician
Fabric Lenny – digital and visual artist
Freddie Opoku-Addaie – dance artist
Victoria Pratt – art and technology creative
Debris Stevenson – poet and writer
Chris Thorpe – writer and theatre-maker
Vici Wreford-Sinnot – disabled theatre writer and director

The brief they created was then sent to the 40 arts centres across England, each with a genuine connection to the community and a focus on cultural democracy, integral to their sense of place.

Here and Now promises to be the most representative large scale art project ever seen in England, with 45% of projects led by artists identifying as working class, 28% led by artists from BAME backgrounds, and 17% of projects led by disabled artists.

Here and Now is led by Future Arts Centres and supported by Arts Council England, marking the National Lottery’s 25th birthday.