Last year, Central Bedfordshire Council Libraries in partnership with Bedford Creative Arts, won Arts Council England funding to commission eight artists to imagine what a library of the future could be. Following community and library service consultation the result is the Library as Laboratory project and over the coming months the artists will be working across Central Bedfordshire to develop three new art commissions that invite people to work with them to explore the idea of the library of the future.
The first of these, Dump it on Parliament Revisited, will look at the role of libraries as custodians of local history by creating a new living history artwork using the backdrop of Bedfordshire’s well-known post-punk scene of the late 70’s and early 80’s. On 18th July 2015 at Dunstable’s Party in the Park, people are invited to create and perform their own punk protest song at the artists’ ‘Cut-up Karaoke’ stall. If you are in a band, remember the original protest or compilation tape, come along, talk to the artists and get involved.
Three of the artists, Dash MacDonald, Demitrios Kargotis and Roshi Nasehi were inspired by the story of the local post-punk musicians and bands who were galvanized into action against the government’s plans to create a new nuclear waste site at Elstow, Bedfordshire. The bands protested by creating the well known “Dump it on Parliament’ compilation tape in support of the B.A.N.D (Bedfordshire Against Nuclear Disarmament) campaign. “We want to engage with this rich local history and create a new conversation between the original bands and fans, and young people of today,” says artist Demitrios Kargotis.
Working with local bands and young people, the artists will be creating a new compilation tape of covers of the original material and newly created protest songs which will then be presented in a series of performances in late November. It will culminate in a new sound archive for the library service. There will be wide ranging events across Dunstable, Houghton Regis and Leighton Buzzard libraries, including fanzine creation, song writing and sound workshops, film screenings and the collection of memories and memorabilia. Supporting this cross-generational dialogue is Steve Spon of band UK Decay, one of the scene’s original bands, and he will be lending his experience and support in crafting this alternative history in Bedfordshire.
The second Library as Laboratory commission will be the Future Library Festivals where two libraries will open from Friday evening to Sunday evening packed with surprising activities that explore the idea of business NOT as usual. Flitwick Library’s Festival is 16th – 18th of October 2015 and Biggleswade’s is on the 13th – 15th of November 2015. The third commission – Make, Do, Discover – will reflect the discovery of lost information and hidden secrets in early 2016.
There are many opportunities to get involved, work with the artists, be part of the artworks, or just come along to the events and join in the fun. Ask at your local library or look on the virtual library for further information, released in due course.