Public Goods

a survey of the common wealth

Public Goods is the conceptual umbrella for a programme of discrete projects that have a focus on making and sharing tangible representations of the intangible things we feel are most precious about the places and communities we belong to, such as stories, skills, games, songs, techniques, memories, local lore and experiential knowledge of local environment and ecology.

What is most precious about the places and communities in which we live, work and play?

How can we begin to communicate the value of the intangible goods and assets that define our attachment to people, places and things?

In 2010 Britain entered into one of the most radical phases of transformation of our public services and social infrastructure since the establishment of the welfare state in 1945. Many of the more recognisable tangible assets (libraries, forests, public art and culture venues, arts activities) have been run down, sold off or cut back. Public Goods aims to re-invigorate our appreciation of the immense ‘common wealth’ that persists in everyday life across the diversity of cultures in our society. It remains a critical trajectory of artistic opportunity to investigate the resilience, adaptability and future of local communities.

Proboscis’ long term trajectory is to weave together self-initiated projects with collaborations, research partnerships, new commissions and residency opportunities to create and distribute new artworks made in collaboration with other artists, technologists, researchers and educators as well as local groups. We continue to build on our previous experience of developing innovative online and offline tools and techniques to help realise and share these artworks with the public, as well as developing education and outreach programmes that connect Public Goods with schoolchildren, teachers and young people. In an earlier phase, our Creative Placement programme was also a key element : creating opportunities in the creative industries for young people unlikely to otherwise gain employment.

Public Goods underpins almost all of our current work, as we continue to develop collaborations with other organisations and institutions, local people and groups as well as with other creative practitioners. It feeds into all the various ways in which we investigate the intangible goods that people value in their own environments and communities, and what they wish to transmit to their fellow human beings both in the present and the future.

Public Goods has the ambitious aspiration to re-value those things that are often over-looked or considered to be “of small beer” through artistic and creative engagement, and to find new ways to share them, a wealth both common and uncommon.