How do we talk to people who are against what we stand for? Phil Ormrod, 27 January 2013 Session called by: Phil Ormrod Sunday 10.30-12 Present: ten or so people at any given time I proposed the question as a provocation, and meant it to be addressed as a general political enquiry, as one about the role of the artist, and more broadly, just as a human being. We began by sharing initial responses around the circle, which were, in no particular order: We have to accept that some people will always disagree: we need to find the ones who might change their mind. How do we build a community with people we disagree with? We shouldn't feel obliged to be nice. If we want to communicate something, it's about striking a balance between honesty and presentation Is theatre the right forum for debate? When people complain that they don't like art, we should send an ‘A Team’ round to nick their telly, music collection and clothes… You need to make sure you're having the same conversation If you want someone to agree with you, know all the facts and then just listen - don't try to argue straight off. Let them come to your point of view Maybe we'd often like everyone else to be like us and think like us. We then pursued a bunch of thoughts, that regularly gravitated back to the question of advocacy for arts funding. If we talk about defending the arts, have we already lost? Do we set ourselves up for a fall by talking about ‘Great Art for Everyone’? Is it the ‘everyone’ in this that's problematic, or the ‘great’? (it's making our lives difficult to claim beforehand that work will be ‘great’). Is there a way that we could shift the debate about funding so that it's perceived less as artists asking for money, and more about choosing to encourage art as a practice in people's lives, or valuing the enterprise in itself. Perhaps we don't choose the right advocates - successful, well-off people from a certain demographic. What if we could get audience members on TV arguing for subsidy? Someone suggested that we shouldn't be so anxious about whether people agree with us, but instead should just get on and make our work, and let them discover it. We then talked about the importance of listening - that if you want to reach agreement with someone, it's not just about persuading them, it's also about responding to their perspective. Also, levity is helpful.