Site Sessions: Sheffield's arts-led discussion forum for the arts & sciences

Sheffield's Site Gallery has long been a leader in the contemporary art space, supporting innovative uses of media and experimental projects from up-and-coming artists. It has particular form in supporting interdisciplinary work.

This year, while the exhibition space is closed for expansion, Site has received a very small amount of funding to support a series of interdisciplinary discussion events. Speakers at the events so far have included:

* Sheffield-based artists, makers, young people and business people.
* Speakers from outside Sheffield, including the Culture editor of New Scientist magazine, a philosopher specialising in time, a theatre director, historians and award-winning artists.

Our discussions so far have ranged from philosophical issues around science and the truth, to social issues around artistic economies, to community art projects which make social use of design technology.

Site Sessions always include a public discussion, offering a way for local Sheffield people to engage with big questions and meet and mix with a range of thinkers – including those from outside their city. We are also very engaged on social media, and written, video or audio records exist of each of the discussions.

The principles of our events are:

* No more heroes. Digital heroics are an enormous limiter to progress in interdisciplinary discourse. No 'sage on a stage' here. Speakers are respected and paid, but the audience's voices are always heard, too. Events are intimate and chatty.

* Arts-led. There are plenty of brilliant events already around for atheists, geeks and science nerds. These events attempt to reposition the conversation from an open-minded, open-hearted, arts perspective.


With ongoing support for these events, we will ensure we can carry on paying for wonderful diverse speakers and great venues, and eventually commissioning new work under the Site Sessions banner.


Why the contribution is important

Site Sessions already offers something rather unusual: an arts-led conversation about interdisciplinary issues. In a world where science and tech are funded exponentially more than the arts, these worlds tend to get the 'final say' – to decide who it is important to hear from, and what is said.

We are presenting instead an arts perspective on these questions; how can the arts relate to data, robotics, A.I., genomics, medicine, and any of the other powerful new themes emerging from the science and tech scene?

It is essential the arts have a voice in interdisciplinary conversations. We are uniquely placed to show how these themes connect meaningfully to people and their lives, to real feelings, to the past. In fact, we are uniquely placed to ask questions others are paid to avoid!

As well as providing a space for local people to meet one another and develop new paradigms of thinking, Site Sessions is also a commercial proposition, with a brand that could be easily expanded into a podcast (reaching a potentially vast audience), a youtube film series, and a coherent web presence acting as a portal to the people and ideas who have taken part so far.


by LeilaJohnston on July 24, 2017 at 02:43PM

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