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Introducing...YARD Arts School

“The responsibility of an artist representing an oppressed people is to make the revolution irresistible.” - Toni Cade Bambara

“What I do commit to for this lifetime and as many as I get, is to learn with you always. To study the changes you bring to my body, my spirit, my mind. To be in school with you for the duration, in a curriculum called ‘how we endure.’” - Alexis Pauline Gumbs

MAIA set up YARD as a site of imagination for local people. A place where collectively we could organise, build mutual aid, and use art as a tool for imagining and exploring what it takes to create a world centred around justice, care, access and joy.

FREE YARD, our weekly community programme, is a first step in growing some of these things. But we’re also aware that artists need to be fully invested in and resourced if we are able to test our theory of change. Therefore, throughout the year, YARD will invite artists for a paid residency in the form of an Arts School to collectively dream up a world beyond our current paradigm.

The residency, however, is not rooted in what the artists can produce. While we know that beautiful pieces of work will be made during these periods, we are much more invested in discovering how artists’ practices, thought-processes and perspectives can shift and transform how we approach some of the hardest questions we are faced with as we try to move from imagination to liberation.

We also know that some of YARD’s most transformative moments happen because of folks sharing space and creating work in proximity to each other. What happens, then, when we bring our community together intentionally to respond to a shared provocation? What does art and making allow us to discover, as we build things with our hands, in a room full of folks who embody the spirit of liberation work? What might then become possible?

The residency, therefore, is a time for collaboration, creation and learning. Hence the name: YARD Arts School.

During the Arts School, we will have three artists in residence at YARD alongside guest speakers, the team and as many of our community as possible. Each Arts School has a different central provocation, which we’ll respond to through conversation and making. To do this, we’ll have a house full of craft stations, talks, food, and spaces for rest and reasoning.

As part of MAIA’s first Radical Imagination Lab on ‘Life Affirming Infrastructure’, the first YARD Arts School asks us to: ‘Imagine a World Without Prisons’. It runs over a period of two weeks, across 16th-20th and 23rd-28th May, between 10am-4pm. Check our socials to find out times for the final Saturday, which is a showcase day.

Come meet some dope artists, make some art (whether you consider yourself an artist or not), and let’s imagine and design together new, liberated, irresistible worlds.

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