TedX Brighton 2015: How Art Creates Movements

I confess, if you were to categorise a human brain I would fall into the highly logical, business focussed brain. I wouldn’t go as far as to say a homo-economicus but there are definitely some traits. So why can a marble statue bring me to tears, or a piece of music take me on a magical journey for 10 minutes? The talk from Chris Alton founder of EDL (no, not what you’re thinking) – English Disco Lovers – made me re-examine art in business.

Chris Alton founded English Disco Lovers back in 2012 a social movement to supplant the negative connotation of the English Defence League with positive ones. As an artist he went beyond just the meaning of a word now and looked at the etymology of Disco.

During occupation of France in World War 2, the Germans outlawed music or art that didn’t fit with Nazism. Cabaret clubs and jazz clubs were shut down across Paris. However, Parisians rightfully took umbrage and formed secret clubs that played records, as live music was considered too risky. The most famous club Le Discotheque which means ‘the record library’ – and so Disco was born.

Chris took this and has used it in the 21st Century to tell the same message – that is one world, one race and one disco. If somebody just told you that a social movement round disco was being set-up to subvert oppressive and exclusive groups called the English Disco Lovers, you’d probably smile sympathetically and move on. However, as with Le Discotheque in Paris, and Disco in the ’70s bringing one race inclusion to the fore, EDL has created a movement with art – in the form of dance and music. With over 64,00o Facebook likes and 10,900 Twitter followers this has momentum.

This is not the only example of art creating a movement, think of Banksy anti-capitalist statements or the images from Africa of starving children on film in the ’90s.

So why does art do this? Art represents people. People create movements. Art is human to human, inspiring, challenging on a personal or/and societal level – because it is about us, we can/want to become it or be part of what it stands for. We all want to be part of a tribe.

So when dealing in business, in medicine, in politics, to lead we need to be artistic. We need to be human and paint, write, produce art that inspires, connect and challenges at a human and societal level. This, I believe, can apply to a Business Plan as much as a presentation in an art gallery.

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