For the past few months I’ve alternately hidden from and immersed myself in the mainstream news media as it reports the failures of our western democracies and the crisis of Capitalism….Trump’s first 100 days, the rise of the extreme right, elections across Europe. I listen avidly as every day something important seems to happen, and then feel overwhelmed by the magnitude and horror of it all. It’s like having front row seats at the Death of Democracy/Rise of Plutocracy show, where the corporates finally take over governance. The liberal values, social and welfare principles, hard won rights I’d taken for granted are blown away one by one. Yes, we could have/should have (did) seen the warnings and erosions through the neo-liberal years. But right now it’s as abrupt as the collapse of the Berlin Wall, pulled down brick by brick.

And the constant refrain in my head: what can we do? How can I free myself from the oppression/depression? How can we compete with this overwhelming, monolithic, all encompassing mantra: ‘capitalism is the only way’?

I remember the cracks in the wall, the multitude of opposition and so here I am…reaching out to reconnect, to remind myself that I am part of a vast conspectus of ideas and opinions that lead away from the status quo in the direction of equality and social justice. Less an echo chamber than a rich seam of strength and inspiration. Each one of us puncturing the dominant narrative one story at a time in our daily interactions, our shows, exhibitions, writing……

I’m interested in the idea that social media (on its incomprehensibly large scale) and live, collective encounters (minute and inconsequential though they seem) can together break through the mass-media-message and take the lid off the debate.

And so I think it’s more important now than ever to nail our colours to the mast. To name what we believe. We may have to twist and turn our words to suit the logistics and realities of our situations sometimes, but we must be unerringly clear where our values lie.

At Collective Encounters we’re about to begin a process of revising our Manifesto. This has been on the back burner for several years – we’ve been going for 12 years now and its time to re-visit our founding principles, make sure the Manifesto is owned by all members of the company today, and gives us a guiding vision that helps direct our course through the storm.

We’re going to be looking at a few classics to get us in the mood… Surrealist, Communist, Theatre Union, Strindberg, as well as some more recent ones from the Zapatista’s, Occupy, the present Collective Encounters’ Manifesto…..

If there’s a manifesto you’ve been inspired by, or that you stand by it would be great if you could share it… Or if you’ve learned anything from going through a process of creating a shared manifesto, it would be really helpful to know…

Or if you just want to shout across the abyss and say a quick hello, that would be nice too!

Hope the fresh breath of spring is reviving you all,