Pria Rai tells us how the Exeter Pound Project used art to advertise the new currency coming out in September in order to promote local businesses.
[dropcap size=big]E[/dropcap]xeter Pound became the talking point on The Quay last week, as they combined community art with conversations about the city’s new local currency.
The Exeter Pound organisation will be launching the sterling backed currency on September 1st, at an all day event outside the Cathedral. The aim of the pound is to bring the independent businesses of the city together to give our local economy more resilience in times of financial difficulties.
Combined with the economic benefits of keeping our money in the city rather than feeding the ubiquitous multinational chains, the Exeter Pound will encourage cultural change. By providing maps of where the local currency can be spent, it is an opportunity for all members of the community to discover new businesses, including everything from cafes and clothes shops, to the support of Exeter Chiefs and Exeter City Football Club.
As a way of promoting the values of a local currency, the team invited passer-bys of all ages to get stuck in with a large scale Paint-in-Numbers event. The designs of Jo Mortimer, resident artist at The Studio in Dartington, came to life over the course of the day as children and their parents, business workers on a lunch break, and elderly folk wandering along the quay, all picked up a paint brush and played their part. The whole event was recorded with using time lapse, so the colouring of a 3mx2m canvas will soon be available to view online.
The event was a huge success on many levels. Not only has a collective masterpiece been created, but it also echoed the intentions of the Exeter Pound by bringing together people from all parts of our society in the city, and even passing tourists. Some had never heard of the Pound, and some were already very eager to get their hands on their first note. Either way, the artistic event created productive and encouraging conversations about the importance of taking control of our economy.
The popularity of the event lead to many calls for another similar event, so we will have to see what the team plans next. The final piece will be showcased at the launch event in September, as the Lord Mayor will be presented with the first Exeter Pound to spend.