Project Description

The Argument Room was a monthly interactive debating forum streamed live on the internet, hosted by Rideout’s founding co-director, Chris Johnston. Originally developed in partnership with People’s Palace Projects and the Drama Department at Queen Mary University of London in 2011, the forum was hosted at a number of venues including the Southbank Centre and the ICA. We are particularly indebted to Marcus Markous and Dynamis who kindly allowed us to use their board room for a significant number of sessions in 2012 and 2013.

Taking its inspiration from Channel 4’s After Dark series, Its primary concerns were the arts and social justice. It took a number of focus points such as:

  • ‘Does the artist have any responsibility to the public? If so, what is it?’
  • ‘Does contemporary art practice make any contribution to social justice or is that just a pleasing illusion?’
  • ‘If it does, what are those positive effects and are they scaleable?’
  • ‘To what extent can we identify causative factors that lead artists into their chosen career?’
  • ‘Who or what should be funded: the artist, the building, the process or the outcome?’

Discussions prompted by these questions took place on a monthly basis with different guests and a different focus each month. In each case the discussion was streamed live with viewers able to call or text in questions, comments and observations which then fed into the debate.

Guests who appeared in The Argument Room include Sylvan Baker, John Bergman, Ed Berman, Simon Callow, Bea Campbell, Tim Crouch, David Edgar, Tim Etchells, Anna Furse, Chris Goode, Jonathan Kay, Lois Keidan, Juliet Lyon, Kathleen McCreery, Phelim McDermott, Lucy Perman, Duska Radosavljevic, Frances Rifkin, Nabil Shaban and Baroness Lola Young.

Photos: Rideout