About the HIVE

The System Change HIVE is a ‘creative engine room’ informed by a series of discussions and workshops between researchers, emerging artists and experienced creative mentors.

Begun in Brighton UK, in February 2019, the HIVE seeks to harness the power of art and imagination to reveal the hidden and constructed narratives and metaphors that limit our societies from seeing better ways. We are exploring new solutions, – how changes in policy, economics, local governance, and culture could spur rapid transformations towards zero-carbon scenarios that prioritise wellbeing. The creative journey also involves input from communications experts leading to a set of learnings and ideas about how to communicate the benefits and feasibility of ‘system change’ to wider audiences.

This ‘imagineering’ to open up multiple visions of the future, as well as the personal journeys of our participants, will result in an informative, immersive exhibition of visual and digital arts, sound art and a Virtual Reality simulation. This touring exhibition aims to inspire and inform mainstream audiences about possibilities for, and desirability of rapid paradigm shifts. Planned venues and festivals span Brighton to Birmingham, Hastings to Cornwall, from late 2019 to late 2020. 

Roundtable events in late 2019 and 2020 will also be used to reflect on the lessons from the HIVE, and inspire new ideas and actions among campaigners, artists and researchers working towards system change.

Who's involved?

The HIVE project was initially conceived by arts/environmental charity Swarm Dynamics, and was developed and implemented together with the following partner organisations:

Swarm Dynamics

Centre for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics, University of Brighton

ESRC STEPS Centre, Institute of Development Studies and SPRU, University of Sussex

Wired Sussex


as well as individual artists and practitioners in the arts sector who are contributing mentoring, creative input and time. For more details on people behind the Hive, see the list of organisers and Participants.

Financial support for the project is provided by Arts Council England, Lush Charity Pot, and the Chalk Cliff Trust. 

Our aims

The HIVE project aims to help make the idea of systems change more tangible by filling a huge imagination gap: in post-capitalist futures, how might new social, economic and political systems, based on zero carbon and well-being actually function, and how might they ‘feel’ at the level of daily life? What confluence of changes could be ‘leverage points’ leading to big shifts away from the current paradigm? And how can artists, researchers and digital technologists learn from each about story telling and solutions for the future? These facinating and crucial questions are rich, unchartered territory for artists, and sit at the heart of our work. 

Why is the HIVE needed? There is a clear need to act to address injustices and vulnerabilities linked to climate change, the uneven use of resources, perverse forms of growth and development, enduring poverty, and marginalisation. No single solution will be enough: systemic change is needed. Despite this complexity, the responses on offer are often based around big solutions, ‘magic bullets’ or scalable tech fixes that do not touch the very root causes of problems. Uncertainties are ignored or treated as if they were calculable risks. The importance of unpredictable, unruly, cultural movements for radical transformation is neglected. And socially or politically constructed ‘silences’ contribute to the crisis of imagination, by shutting down discussion about new or alternative models.

In this context, interdisciplinary spaces that explore uncertain and diverse visions of the future and that harness the power of art to decolonise our imaginations, are highly valuable at the present moment. The HIVE is piloting a unique model of embodied learning and co-creation within this space. We hope it will live on post project, and be replicated! 


Structured around weekly conversations, creative challenges, and making time between researchers, artists, mentors and experts in communication, the HIVE will explore different aspects of system change, including:

  •        The popular stories told about progress and how they can be reimagined
  •        Alternative economic theories and ideas around GDP growth, ecology and change
  •        How to design communications about climate change
  •        What it means to challenge and transform powerful structures and systems
  •        How to question the systems of money and work that we take for granted
  •        The potential for rapid change towards low-carbon futures
  •        Lessons from hacking, maker movements and open science for system change
  •        How resistance and environmental justice movements use art and culture
  •        Well-being and human identity in radically changed futures
  •        Lessons from urban change in megacities

Beyond the ‘theoretical’ component  of the HIVE, artworks and insights created will provoke and inspire members of the public who interact with our events and exhibitions,  and be brought to advance wider discussions amongst campaigners, artists and researchers working towards systemic change.

Contact the HIVE

Send us an email: hello@systemchangehive.org

If you’re interested in working with the System Change HIVE, we’d love to hear from you.