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The Right to the (New) City: Art, New Towns and The Commons

Wednesday 6 July / 10am - 6pm
Held at the Buszy, 401 Elder Gate, Central Milton Keynes, Milton Keynes MK9 1LR
Tickets (including refreshments & lunch): £12
Concessions for students, unwaged and registered disabled: £6
Ticket including reduced train fare from London Euston: £22.50 
This symposium, organised by MK Gallery in partnership with the Open University gathers artists, curators, academics and community arts organisations together to discuss the unique heritage and present conditions of new towns, how they work with their communities to produce the common and their response to a call for the right to the (new) city. ‘The right to the city’ calls for a collective redress of an uneven distribution of power through the production of a commons. It explores the right to create the city as a collective work of art (Lefebvre).
Milton Keynes, the largest British New Town, has been seen to represent the modernist aspirations of a liberated and dynamic future. The 'ideal city', was one of the achievements of the 1947 New Towns Act, a project of the welfare state that promised happy and healthy communities through revolutionary urban planning. The organisation responsible, Milton Keynes Development Corporation achieved this through promoting the dream of private property ownership and encouraging global capital investment, which continues today. As the city approaches its 50th birthday in 2017, the welfare state is shrinking, councils are shedding their community assets, public space has all but disappeared and the distribution of power is growing increasingly uneven. Conversely, Milton Keynes’ arts institutions and practitioners have never been more active. 
This symposium will reflect on the role and responsibility of the visual arts and designers in redressing such imbalances, artistic strategies of ‘commoning’ and some of the inherent theoretical concerns. Confirmed speakers include curator Maria Lind (Tensta Konsthall), Stavros Stavrides (author of Common Space), artists Bik Van der Pol, sociologist Sophie Watson (Open University), artist/researcher Darren Umney, Roger Kitchen (Living Archive), geographer Gillian Rose (Open University), researcher and filmmaker Ed Webb-Ingall, artist Stuart Whipps and many more.
The symposium will be held at the Buszy Building, the former bus station opposite the Milton Keynes central station, restricted for community use but currently vacant. It is a listed building owned by the Milton Keynes Development Partnership and we hope that the symposium and workshops will directly contribute to the decision making for its future use.
Organised by Inheritance Projects with MK Gallery, Open University and with support from Alec Steadman (Arts Catalyst). 
With support from the Arts Council for England Grants for the Arts, MK Community Foundation, Milton Keynes Development Partnership.