The power of Art and living archive: why WE-Hope matters

WE-Hope exists to promote multiculturalism through shared experience and bring us together, joining 'old' Europe and 'new' Europe together under a common framework for hope at a time where this could be considered a more pressing need than ever.

Threshold, since its inception, has stood for arts and culture for social change, believing that art should be accessible to and for everyone and provide a meaningful catalyst for social change.

Often difficult to define, we believe that art is an expression of what can't be said, that the connection lies in the experience and the impetus. In a social context, it can provide a shared experience that inspires intersectional audiences from a shared commonality, engagement and connection to the human condition and a truly authentic voice.

Electric Egg “This is Us” 2016.

WE-Hope connects individual, archive, artist and audience to create a meaningful shared experience. The project enables a diverse range of contemporary and historical personal testimonies, that transcends reportage or documentation and creates a conduit to amplify that experience in the public realm.

Archive is a powerful medium and method for cultural engagement that consistently evolves. What drew us to this project was how WE-Hope had identified a voice missing from this narrative. That “very little connection has so far been made between the ‘memory work’ of the Second World War and the memories of those who have more recently escaped war and conflict to find a refuge in Europe.”

Archive is not flawless in its approach to diversity, often historical methods of collation mean that due to limited technology, mobility or access to resource there are often parts of our societal makeup excluded from our recollection and retelling of the past. Living archive draws upon the notion of "the archive" as a current and contemporary medium. We have to ensure that we document, allow the agency, space and platform and make active efforts to archive our history as it happens now. Access to digital technologies, international and committed networks results in the means to be able to embed living archive into the daily facets of our practice.

We recently explored the impact of living archive through a Heritage Lottery funded programme, "This Is Us" in the Sincil Bank area of Lincoln. Delivered in partnership with HLF and Media Archive Central England it connected us to the potential, discrepancy and opportunity that exists within projects driven by a living archive. Through connecting local communities to the industrial heritage of their locale we were able to foster and document the current community spirit and civic pride of the area who often feel disconnected to the city and their part within local history.

Archive should act as time capsule, but also dialogue with current audiences to develop collective social awareness of personal story and circumstance that may exist outside our individual and collective echo chambers.

We’re honoured and excited to be part of WE-Hope, to work and learn from the expertise of the UK and international partners to achieve the project’s collective aims.

This article was written by Threshold, partner of the WE-Hope project.