“Using art as a tool for ‘whole community’ transformation.”

Good Ideas 2020 has now concluded and after the Edinburgh Social Innovation Showcase, run online due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have 11 new social innovators working hard to make an impact. Let us introduce you to the Edinburgh Class and opportunities to work with them to deliver social change.

Each Class member has a unique request. A specific ask that, if fulfilled, will help them make a bigger impact in this next stage. Read on to find out if you can help Jonathan make change. 

Now more than ever, it is important that we come together and do what we can for the greater good. The future we face as a sector is unknown. Social innovators grab this challenge with both hands, gearing up to bring something new and positive into the world. Good Ideas provides the structure, tools and space required to turn ideas into impact, the rest is up to the hard working social innovators.

A Triple Crisis / The Problem 

Among these innovators is Jonathan Baxter the founder of A+E, a socially engaged art project that braids the terms accident and emergency, art and ecology, art and education. A+E addresses social, environmental and economic injustice by using art as a tool for ‘whole community’ transformation.

Jonathan is an artist, curator and peer-educator. Since 2009 he’s worked with individuals, community groups and cultural organisations to deliver a series of socially engaged art projects and peer-learning programmes.

In 2020 Jonathan launched  A+E, an interdisciplinary art project that addresses the triple crisis of social, environmental and economic injustice. 

Participation through the Arts / The Solution 

We live in challenging times: social, environmental and economic. COVID-19. Black Lives Matter. Climate and ecological breakdown. These are some of the challenges we face today. 

A+E responds to these challenges by developing participatory art projects that support individuals, community groups and cultural organisations to rethink seemingly intractable problems.    

We ask, What if the world were different? What if the same situation could be interpreted in different ways? Hope vs pessimism? Action vs passivity? Creativity vs business as usual? 

In this respect A+E is performative; a social practice that creates the change it wants to see in the world. It names the problem (the accident and emergency) and engages the problem through a combination of art, ecology and education.

A key component of A+E is its commitment to a ‘whole community’ approach to transformation. A process that honours both humans and the more-than-human world.

To this end, A+E works across disciplines using a variety of media. Disciplines include art, ecology and landscape architecture. Media include print making, performance and community gardening, among others. 

Initial engagement includes a period of research followed by a written proposal. Outcomes take the form of a residency, a peer-education programme, or a long-term socially engaged art project.

A+E’s primary aim is to work with individuals, community groups and cultural organisations to create a more just, ecological and imaginative world. Art has a vital role to play in this process.

Finding a Framework / The Experience 

“I joined Good Ideas to learn more about social enterprise business models. Good Ideas provided a framework to consider various aspects of A+E, including its framing in the artworld, the development of its business plan, and the tension between different models of social change. Peer-learning was an invaluable part of the process.”

Next Steps / The Asks 

If you’d like to learn more about A+E, get involved in the project or propose a collaboration, please contact Jonathan at [email protected] or call on 07954123543.

Can you work with Jonathan to #HelpMakeChange?

Jonathan is one of our many wonderful Alumni doing good things with his Good Idea. If you would like to support Good Ideas to help others like Jonathan please let us know.

Any questions? Get in touch! 

Stay safe and take care 🙂