Kangaroo Protest: Outdoor Arts & Extinction Rebellion back to listing

You’d have to have your head buried in the sand not to notice the impact the Extinction Rebellion movement is making across the world. While the Prime Minister dismisses the protesters as “uncooperative crusties”, David Attenborough sees the way young people are responding to the environmental crisis as “a source of great hope”. We live in polarised times.

As well as the important content behind the protests, it has been interesting to see how XR has started to redefine how protest is being reported. While there are inevitably images of arrests, confrontation and banners, here in the OutdoorArtsUK office, we have been spotting many outdoor arts performers and companies bringing a particular tone to the proceedings. These more creative images provide a very different view of protest and invite different questions.

Right from the start, Invisible Circus has been part of the movement and we’ve grown used to seeing Doug Francisco – who spoke at our last national Outdoor Arts conference – often leading the ubiquitous Red Rebels.

In London this past week, we’ve seen Thingumajig Theatre’s Sun Birds flying above the crowds to remind people about animal extinction rates.

Driving through the streets of Westminster, Emergency Exit ArtsPaper Peace brought words of calm reflection to the noisy streets.

And perhaps most surprisingly, Joy Magnet‘s Roo’d were spotted bouncing through the crowds under the title ‘Extinction Roobellion’, providing much-needed levity for both police and protesters.

These are just a few London examples that we’ve spotted and there are plenty more creative interventions by all sorts of people – the pink octopus being chased by the police down Whitehall towards Trafalgar Square was particularly memorable.

The Outdoor Arts sector we know today has many important roots in protest and activism movements and it is interesting to see existing work being (forgive the clunky phrase) ‘repurposed’ in the context of Extinction Rebellion.

Regardless of what we may or may not think about the protests – and there is no denying that we are a sector which has always been very mindful of environmental matters – it’s important that we keep a record of the role Outdoor Arts has played in this current movement.