Last month, CHANGE Festival took place on campus at the Warwick Arts Centre. This new, not-for-profit arts festival featuring over 20 events brought together shows, talks, comedy, and workshops, with the aim to inspire visitors to imagine a better, more positive future for all. Better food. Better homes. Better communities. Better lives for ourselves and generations to come.
Ahead of the event, CHANGE Festival producer Becky Burchell said, “CHANGE Festival will offer a better story about our future. Much of our current popular culture - TV, movies, news, theatre - paints a picture of a bleak, dystopian future where humanity is tearing itself apart. It’s time to tell a different story - one that stretches our dreams and inspires courage and hope. Through this festival, we hope to inspire visitors to imagine a better way of living – better communities, better food, better homes for us and the generations to come.”
One of the festival workshops was led by Dr Kirsten Harris, a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Liberal Arts Department. Kirsten's workshop, Utopias: Writing for Better Futures, encouraged visitors to think about how fictional visions of alternate or future societies can offer hope and drive change. In this interactive workshop, participants explored how creative writing can be used to imagine better futures. They considered examples of utopias from film and literature before creating their own societies of the future through a series of short writing exercises connected to the themes of CHANGE Festival.
"Imagining a better future is about setting a trajectory for possible directions of travel, and opening up debate, dialogue and action."
Kirsten commented, "This wasn't intended to be a creative writing masterclass. Instead, utopias were used as a creative and imaginative problem-solving exercise. Writers use utopias to identify features of their own society that they consider to be problematic or harmful, and then to envision how they might be resolved, improved and radically rethought. Imagining a better future isn't about creating a flawless 'blueprint' or masterplan; instead, it's about setting a trajectory for possible directions of travel, and opening up debate, dialogue and action."
Feedback was positive. Some participants enjoyed having a go at creative writing for the first time in a number of years; others found it to be a "healing" and meditative experience.