MSL Creative Caucuses

Image by Sarah Macbeth

As part of our latest project The Sea Beneath, MSL is embarking on the development of a panel of extraordinary advisers which we are calling a Creative Caucus. The group will consist of people with an active interest in our projects, who will meet and discuss our ongoing work with a view to planning and becoming more involved in future projects. We have worked with many creatives in the past – artists, writers, musicians, historians, filmmakers and so on – and want to actively encourage a collaborative group, providing future opportunities for the creation of new work.

Why Caucus? Many of us will think first of the Caucus race in Alice in Wonderland. In an attempt to dry off after falling into a sea of tears, Alice and the other small creatures are organised by the Dodo into marking out a racetrack and placing themselves along it at irregular intervals. There is no start and no end – they just run whenever and wherever they like. Likewise, there are no winners or losers: “Everyone has won and all must have prizes.” 

In the US, a Caucus is a closed meeting of the members of one party to co-ordinate policy, choose candidates and so on. The word seems to have originated in the 18th century, derived from the Algonquian Caucauasu, meaning adviser. These meetings can occur, as they do in Iowa for example, in schools, churches, public libraries, or even individuals’ houses. In addition to the voting and the presidential preference choices, caucus-goers begin the process of writing their parties’ platforms by introducing resolutions.

We held the first Caucus, Creative Caucus #1 Mapping, on 21 January. It opened out the creative process we are using to build The Sea Beneath. We discussed our ongoing work, with some people presenting their ideas and reactions to our themes for the project.

We held another creative caucus on 13 March where we hosted a Discovery and Discussion Day in the form of three Zoom sessions, exploring the past, present and future of Hastings and the America Ground.

We plan to host further Caucuses around particular topics, inviting people to make contributions from their own (informed) perspective, or to simply listen in, ask questions and maybe follow up. It’s a way of making people part of the conversation. Progressively, some of these people might become ‘associates’, developing their own ideas and contributing to us more regularly.

We won’t be expecting people to fall into the sea before joining us, but the ethos of our Creative Caucus will include one element of the Dodo’s race – that of joining when you like and for how long you like. So, with that in mind and as an encouragement to join us, we will leave you with the Dodo’s excellent instruction: “Why, the best way to explain it is to do it.”

The Sea Beneath is funded by Arts Council England and Trinity Triangle Heritage Action Zone. 

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