Much like yesterday, Assembly Members showed their negative Covid tests, signed in and then grabbed hot drinks from Awesome Coffee and breakfast muffins/bars/biscuits/fruit from Gloria & Lil’s before settling down in the Space of Possibilities where Susan and Andy from Mutual Gain outlined the programme.

The first part of the day involved each group talking through their ‘Quadrant’ exercise from yesterday (To recap, this was a way of pooling the group’s Assessment Criteria – which they would use to measure their recommendations against, see Saturday’s blog for details)

Gallery of ‘Quadrants’ – the Assembly groups’ Assessment Criteria.

Andy briefed the Assembly on what makes a good recommendation, then the Assembly members split off to breakout rooms (according to allocation from their preferred choice of theme) and began work on drafting their recommendations – using inspiration from the quadrants and specifically theme-relevant content collated from previous sessions.

In forming their recommendations, Assembly members were encouraged to use verbs to start their recommendations; to make sure sentences were clear and readable; and to use their creative and critical thinking in tandem.

They had to make sure recommendations responded to the Assembly question:
How will arts, culture and creativity shape a better future for Coventry? and to think about the impacts and consequences of their recommendations – considering what difference the recommendation would make and whether there might be any negative consequences. (For example costs, things that might prevent progress, groups that might be affected positively or negatively and so on).

Once the recommendations had been drafted, the Assembly’s next task was to move towards developing consensus. In a Citizens’ Assembly, recommendations only ‘pass’ if they receive approval from 80% or over of the Assembly members, and so once there were draft recommendations, a long process of peer assessment began. This entailed groups rotating around the breakout rooms and considering/reviewing what each other group was proposing. They left practical feedback on each others’ recommendations in the form of lightning strike stickers where they were concerned about a specific recommendation; love hearts where they thought the recommendation was brilliant and needed no amendments, question marks where they required some clarity, with annotations to explain what clarity they needed. They could also offer alternative ideas for recommendations.

Whilst this was happening, we pulled Assembly members (who had previously volunteered) out for a few minutes each to film them speaking a section of the epic poem our writer-in-residence Liz Mytton had penned the previous day. Here’s a few pictures of some of the Assembly members being filmed with Liz and film-maker Rachel Bunce; a photo over the shoulder of Andrea Mbarushimana, who captured the Sunday in sketches (scroll down to look at Andrea’s sketches); and (over another magnificent Gloria & Lil’s lunch) Assembly members enjoying live music from the fantastic FoxRocha.

The next task was for Assembly members to return to their original group and review the feedback on their recommendations. As their aim is to get their recommendations passed by 80% of the Assembly, it is important for each group to take heed of the comments of their peers – although this can sometimes be a tricky point in an Assembly. After some time reviewing and potentially re-wording, everyone came back together to listen to each group read out it’s final recommendations.

And then it was time to vote. Each Assembly member was able to re-read the recommendation and then, on their voting slip, vote for or against each of the final recommendations. We went next door into the main Daimler Powerhouse space for this bit to give everyone a bit more room to manoeuvere.

Then there was a bit of a break whilst the votes were counted. People used that time to chat, relax, have a cuppa – and we also got together as many of the Assembly members, facilitators, scribes and organisers as we could muster to take a group shot (see below). As it had begun to snow again, we fitted in the obligatory snowball fight too…

Finally the results were announced! Out of 17 recommendations, 9 passed the 80% approval threshold, and none scored lower than 60% approval.

Although we can’t yet publicly share what these recommendations are, it feels important to say that the recommendations demonstrate the value of the Citizens’ Assembly process and the journey we have all been on together. There are clear glimpses of ideas inspired by inputs from Expert Witnesses as well as a really strong and obvious sense of the Assembly members having taken their collective responsibility very seriously – thinking deeply about the issues and listening to, and learning from, the ideas and concerns of their peers.

Their proposals clearly sketch a better future for Coventry: one which is green in every sense and offers a democratic, regenerative, generous, equitable and collaborative life for its citizens; where there is a real democracy of access to the arts as creator, participant and audience; a pleasant place to live – verdant, green, welcoming and future-facing; and where the arts are fully integrated into all communities.

The next step is to present the recommendations to the Culture Compact and Coventry City Council and then we will be able to share them more widely – and get to work on the business of producing the pilot projects that will test out, add weight to, and advance the recommendations of the Art for the People Citizens’ Assembly on Arts, Culture and Creativity.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to all of the Assembly members, partners, funders, facilitators, scribes, musicians, cooks, resident artists, organisers and cheerleaders. This has been a huge collaborative effort and, as Liz Mytton reminded us in her haiku written for today, Day 2 of the Recommendation weekend: ‘this end is a start’.

This is it, people!
A culmination of sorts,
a brave journey’s end

where the finish line
offers refreshments informed
by diverse appetites

and relief’s expressed
and shared by oxymoron:
this end is a start

(Liz Mytton)

Sketches by Andrea Mbarushimana

To find out more & get involved:

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