What if we could all become Time Rebels?

May 10, 2023
Published by Lorna Prescott

Arts Council England and the National Lottery Community Fund have awarded £125,000 to Dudley CVS’s work with local Time Rebels over the coming year.

The funding will support Time Rebels to meet and build relationships with local people across Dudley borough in the places they live, learn, work and play. Through summer and autumn 2023 they will test out all kinds of hands-on creative activities designed to help us to glimpse, imagine and feel the futures we want, in the places we care about.

Dudley’s Time Rebels are local people, doers and creatives of all kinds, who have taken up the challenge to nurture imagination and long-term thinking in Dudley. They are convened and supported by CoLab Dudley, a social lab run by Dudley CVS and local partners to experiment with new approaches to participation and collective action in Dudley.

Photo of two white, middle aged women in winter coats and an older man, standing behind 2 shopping trolleys covered in colourful crocheted wool squares. All 3 on a wide pavement on Dudley High Street, with parked cars and a cafe close by.

Time Rebels from We Are Makers on Dudley High Street with a curious passer-by

Along with people leading similar work in other places in the UK and around the world, we believe that an investment in growing and maintaining the capacity of communities and institutions to collectively imagine is vital for communities to be able to shape their futures.

Nourishing collective imagination opens up pathways of possibility and equips communities to respond in new ways. It enables us to see, feel and think differently in order to act differently. We need to act differently to address complex and entangled challenges including poverty, loneliness, the mental health crisis, health inequalities, catastrophic climate change, biodiversity loss and food insecurity.

In a recent article Rebecca Solnit asserted that (in relation to the climate crisis) imagination is a superpower:

There is a sad failure of imagination at the root of this crisis. An inability to perceive both the terrible and the wonderful. An inability to imagine how all these things are connected, how what we burn in our powerplants and car engines pumps out carbon dioxide that goes up into the sky. Some cannot see that the world, which has been so stable for 10,000 years, is now destabilised, and full of new perils and dangerous feedback loops. Others cannot imagine that we can actually do what is necessary – which is nothing less than building a new and better world.”

Access to the conditions for imagination in Dudley borough are deeply uneven, with consequences for who gets to imagine our futures. Flourishing futures for all of our communities require all of us to imagine those futures into being… if people can’t imagine it, it won’t happen. This is where Time Rebels come in!

Thanks to this investment, over the next 6 months Time Rebels will be helping to grow the capabilities of local people to use long term thinking, unlock imagination and apply creative skills to improve the places they care about and develop relationships which will help them to be more resilient in the face of ongoing crises. The Time Rebels will be openly sharing their ideas, their plans and their learning on a new website (to be launched in June) and at seasonal Cultural Collaborators Network gatherings which take place at CoLab Dudley and are open to everyone.

How to find out more and get involved:

  • Sign up to Dudley’s Cultural Collaborators mail list and be the first to hear when our new Dudley Creates website goes live in June. The website will include details of the projects and ways to get involved.
  • Join us at the Summer Cultural Collaborators Network gathering on Thurs 29 June, 2.00pm-4.30pm, at CoLab Dudley, 201a High St, Dudley to meet the Time Rebels and hear more about what’s planned and how to be part of it.
  • Come along to the Autumn Cultural Collaborators Network gathering on Thurs 14 September, 2.00pm-4.30pm, at CoLab Dudley, 201a High St, Dudley to hear about learning emerging through the experiments and evolving activities.
  • Share your experiences, reflections, insights and ideas for 2024 at the Winter Cultural Collaborators Network gathering on Thurs 7 December, 2.00pm-4.30pm, at CoLab Dudley, 201a High St, Dudley.

We can organise network gatherings in the evenings too if there is demand. Please get in touch with Lorna Prescott (Lorna@dudleycvs.org.uk) if you are keen to be involved in the gatherings and not available during weekdays.

Time Rebel David on Dudley Market with a stall showcasing photos and memorabilia submitted to Dudley People's Archive. Dave is a white, middle aged man, and is chatting to a white man passing by.

Time Rebel David O’Coy at Do Fest Dudley on Dudley Market with Dudley People’s Archive

More about the funding we’ve been awarded

Dudley CVS has been awarded £50,000 through the National Lottery Community Fund’s Reaching Communities Partnerships programme, and £75,000 through Arts Council England’s Project Grants. This funding will pay for:

  • Up to 20 Time Rebels to develop and deliver creative activities which create the conditions for imagining with local people and communities.
  • Additional access support for creatives and community members.
  • CoLab Dudley’s multi-purpose space on Dudley High Street which is used by Time Rebels and the people they co-create with for hands-on making, doing and learning, exhibitions, performances, film screenings and more.
  • 2 CoLab Dudley team members (from Dudley CVS and local creative partnership Fused) who will spend in total 12 days per month to support this growing network of creative people across the borough working with local people to imagine different and new futures in the places they live.
  • Evaluation and learning support for Time Rebels.

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