Mansions of the Future is an expansive but temporary project funded through Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence fund in collaboration with Lincoln Cultural and Arts Partnership. The Ambitions for Excellence fund intended to contribute to the development of strong cultural places, inspire and engage audiences and develop talent within peripheral towns and cities for a duration of up to three years.
This year marks our final, legacy year. Mansions of the Future has been operating from within a meanwhile space, generously lent to us by Lincolnshire Co-operative in between plans for its redevelopment, and despite the unpredictability of this year, the project will necessarily still be fulfilling a scheduled building termination and handover of September 2020.
For transparency, in a moment defined by sector uncertainty, our ‘accountable body’ Lincoln Drill Hall like many theatres nationally is now facing severe financial instability and the continuation of the project in any guise as associated with Lincoln Drill Hall/ Lincoln Culture and Arts Partnership is not feasible. Furthermore the project was always funded as temporary, and operates with a team of self-employed individuals – as such we are ineligible for organisational funding.
Temporality was always going to be both a tall order and an emotional process, and as a team we are indebted to the community groups and local citizens who have brought the building to life over the past few years. As well as the artists, academics, volunteers, students, designers, architects, poets, musicians and dancers who have created communal lunches, talks, workshops and projects and contributed to such a supportive and networked community. As part of our Legacy Agenda, we have been working closely with Peter Martin on a Legacy Film which will capture just some of the project’s interdisciplinary activity and local impact, the film will be shared later this year.
As a further legacy outcome, Mansions of the Future is also proud to be working with Lillian Wilkie of Chateau International and designer Jon Cannon on a comprehensive and creative Legacy Publication project. The unique publication will capture the project’s site specific impetus and uniquely social and collaborative approach to commissioning, and reflect on the impact of the Volunteer and Takeover Programme. The publication will feature documentation imagery and commissioned critical and creative contributions from artists, academics, staff, designers, architects and writers and be available to pre-order this winter.
From the project’s inception, the Takeover Programme has been intrinsic to Mansions of the Future’s ethos and vibrant cultural offer. In early 2020 over 60 community groups were making regular use of the space for free, for social, cultural and educational activity. As we approach the end of our final, legacy year we will be lobbying to cultural stakeholders in the city about the absolute importance and demand for free and accessible mixed-use space.
If you are a community group who will be looking for alternative community provision beyond our tenure contact Beth our Front of House / Events Assistant via firstname.lastname@example.org. Beth is collecting information of those requiring space.
This September the team are working on a Redistribution Agenda to equitably de-install and distribute all of the project’s design furniture, resources, materials, fixtures and fittings to meet the needs of local community groups and charities– with a particular priority given to local initiatives involved in addressing social change and/or led by the black community.
In a final, culminating gesture Mansions of the Future intends to host a two-day Innovation in Engagement Conference in partnership with the University of Lincoln in Spring 2021. The conference will profile and celebrate innovative practices which at an organisational level, engender radically social and collaborative approaches, considering new ways of coming together, being together and exercising solidarity and new economies in increasingly divisive global politics. The conference will champion, necessarily diverse organisations across the UK that are delivering work that takes risks, is led for and with underrepresented groups and present viable and vibrant alternatives to the statistical exclusivity of the sector. The conference will also provide an opportunity for Mansions of the Future to critically reflect on its contribution and impact within the city.
You can learn more about the conference and register your interest here.
Over its duration MotF has developed a sector wide reputation for refining an exemplary commissioning approach which has both artists and local communities at its core. The project has welcomed a breadth of nationally and internationally acclaimed artists and creative producers to the city. Our website will be preserved and maintained as an archive of this work and public resource.
‘Celsius’ – a programme of online activity supported by the UK Antarctica Heritage Trust and led by Curator Linda Rocco will mark some of our final events this year, closing with ‘I’m Migrant’ with artist Lula Mebrahtu on Saturday 3 October. The team will be working independently with The Collection in a freelance capacity to conclude the project ‘Old Salt’ with artist Laura Wilson in November this year, you can learn more about the project Here.