The University of the Arts London (UAL), with generous support from the AKO Foundation, has launched a new Storytelling Institute to help artists and activists collaborate to drive change.
As part of the university’s new Social Purpose Group, led by Polly Mackenzie, the AKO Storytelling Institute will be mandated to intervene on a range of contemporary policy issues, from climate change and biodiversity to issues of economic, social and racial justice.
Bringing together world-class creatives with activists, educators and policymakers, the AKO Storytelling Institute will operate at the intersection of purposeful artistic practice and social impact.
The Institute will collaborate with artists from a range of disciplines – both inside and outside – with a commitment not just to experiment, but to evaluate, test and improve. It will explore how stories sparked change in the past and develop new languages and forms of transformative narrative for the future.
The pilot season, led by Ruth Mackenzie CBE, included collaborations with Citizens UK, World Cities Culture Forum, Greater London Authority, DCMS, UAL Social Design Institute, Google Arts & Culture Lab, Little Amal and UAL Climate Emergency Network, Create4Glasgow , Doc Society and the Barbican Centre.
The institute’s project program for 2022/23 includes:
- Filmmaking for social impact with the UAL Climate Emergency Network
- Creative Community Commissions with Citizens UK to connect creatives with grassroots organisations
- a strategic review of public and community engagement with UAL Knowledge Exchange and the National Coordinating Center for Public Engagement.
- Creativity, Caring and the City with Greater London Authority (Department for Culture and Creative Industries), London Arts & Health, World Cities Culture Forum and Nesta.
- Cultural value in policy making and why creatives should care – with the UAL Social Design Institute
Discover the full program of events, projects and research.
Francesca Panetta has been appointed director of the AKO Storytelling Institute. Francesca is at the forefront of prosocial, experimental and immersive storytelling. For over 20 years she has pioneered new types of documentaries and journalism in newsrooms and at universities such as the BBC, Guardian and MIT. She led the early days of The Guardian’s podcast team and as executive editor built the immersive features team and virtual reality studio.
As Creative Director at MIT, her machine learning work on misinformation, In Event of Moon Disaster, won an Emmy for Best Interactive Documentary. The VR pieces she has directed have been screened at film festivals from Cannes to Sundance and are used by lawyers as political tools. Her work 6×9 was exhibited at the White House.
James Purnell, President and Vice Chancellor of UAL said:
“Storytelling is an essential aspect of creative practice and through shaping history – we believe you can change the world for the better. Ideas once unimaginable or considered too radical have become part of the norm – embraced by the public through humanizing and creative storytelling. Faced with an unprecedented array of challenges, we believe creative practitioners must be at the heart of creating solutions and building narratives that connect and inspire. I would like to thank all of our seed partners and the AKO Foundation for making this work possible.”
Polly Mackenzie, UAL’s Chief Social Purpose Officer, said:
“Stories and artistic experiences can transform people who never thought they would bend. Therefore, those of us who want to see change in the world—from climate change to racial justice to greater equality—need to work hand-in-hand with creatives to bring that change to the world. The AKO Storytelling Institute will program creative work independently and in partnership, providing opportunities for impact within the university community and with other creatives. Alongside this work, our goal is to become a leading hub for evidence of what is effective and a network of activists and artists working together for change.”
UAL thanks the AKO Foundation for their generous support of the AKO Storytelling Institute, without which the launch of this exciting new initiative would not have been possible.
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