#rpTEN-Speaker: Ruth Daniel

In parts of the world torn asunder by war, the social importance of creativity and artistic expression doesn't diminish – in fact, it becomes even more critical. Ruth Daniel has not only realized this truth, but she has also played a fundamental role in ensuring that creative expression in conflict zones is promoted, protected, and fostered.

Ruth is the co-director of In Place of War, an organization based at the University of Manchester that aims to bolster artists and creative communities situated in places of conflict and war. IPOW provides creatives with a digital platform to share their work and exchange ideas. Their outreach also includes educational programs targeted toward marginalized communities as well as the supporting of local organizations involved in the promotion of arts and culture in conflict areas.

Engagement with the arts started at a young age for Ruth. She received an electric guitar for her tenth birthday, sparking a love for music that brought her all the way to founding both a record label (Fat Northerner Records) and a global grassroots music festival and community (Un-Convention). In observing the changes in the music industry over the last several years, one particular facet stood out to Ruth: how the advent of digital platforms has enabled the empowerment of musicians on a global level. Knowing that this empowerment need not be limited to solely musicians, Ruth has spent the last several years traveling and forming partnerships with grassroots creative movements in more than 40 countries.

To some, art may seem like hardly a productive use of money, energy and resources in places affected by war – surely it is smarter to focus on relief work and providing direct aid to those affected, some people might argue. But as Ruth and her partner Teresa Bean noted in an exhibition entitled, “Why art?”, art can serve critical functions for people living in dire situations. It can be “a powerful tool to resist violence, prevent conflict, remember victims, alter a landscape consumed by war, give communities a voice with which to tell their stories, or transform communities.”

Thus Ruth and In Place of War are not simply supporting artists and the creation of art through the their platform and outreach efforts. They are also supporting the process through which a community can collaboratively conceptualize and confront the violence that surrounds them, and through this seek to heal and reclaim what war has taken from them.

As such, her re:publica TEN talk will focus on the resourcefulness and creativity of communities, with a focus on the work In Place of War does. We are looking forward to it!

Photo Credit: Ruth Daniel