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Cities in Action: Democratising Local Governance

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Cities in Action is an event for anyone interested in local democracy and its relationship to local change-making. Based on the findings of an action research project investigating local authorities in two cities, this event will explore the mechanisms of local governance, and the challenges faced by local campaigners trying to use those mechanisms to make improvements in their areas. The event will also launch four new artworks created as part of the project to illustrate the struggles, demands and aspirations of grassroots and community campaigners.

Legislative changes in the last decade have increased the power of central government over local authorities. In addition, democratic controls (transparency, participation, accountability and so on) have been continuously eroded. Under a culture of cuts and lack of care, cities have become an important site for residents and communities to provide for one another and drive forward the changes they want to see. However, the deep democratic deficits we are facing, and the continuing capture of the local state by private interests, have a direct and damaging impact on people’s ability to exercise individual and collective power in their local areas.

This event is the result of a collaborative action research project, Democratising Governance, that has been running in Sheffield and Glasgow over the past six months, examining the relationships between local governance and local activism. Through engaging with the landscapes of grassroots and community campaigns in each city, our partners have been identifying common experiences, themes, and demands for a more democratic local governance, as well as the prospects for more collectivised action within those landscapes.

During this event we will be launching and discussing the artistic output of the project, as well as outlining other emergent themes and thinking. We invite comments and discussion on these themes, both from project participants and from attendees without prior knowledge of the project. We hope to identify possibilities for better connectivity between the two cities as we explore our common claims for a more democratic way of living and making change.

Event Convenors:

  • Fanny Malinen, Research For Action
  • Iona Soper, Solidarity Against Neo-Liberal Extremism (SANE), Glasgow
  • Ruth Hubbard, Co-Founder, It's Our City!
  • Reece Thompson, Artist
Part of our 2023 festival strand


How can we reimagine our citizenship and our democracy?