Colourful billboards selling community’s election messages

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You may have noticed a new sort of advert popping up around town. You may have noticed they are selling a new kind of message.

These colourful billboards are the result of a collaboration between Bedford Creative Arts (BCA) and several of the town’s community groups.

The project, Bedford Voices, was designed to give the public space to advertise their “fantasy election pledges” in the run up to the general election.

The groups, which include community radio station In2Beats, Faith Community Church and The Multi-Heritage Organisation, worked with artists Dash n Dem and national newspaper cartoonists, and advertising agency McGarryBowen to create the posters.

Artist Dash MacDonald said: “It is an active and participatory project that embraces the dreams of the public, dreams they can mould and shape, where the public know they are dreams but which still have the power to inspire.”

He added: “It is an exciting opportunity for us to work with a wide range of people to explore and subvert the use of a traditional media at key time, as the general election approaches.”

The ten groups, selected following an open call by BCA, come from all parts of the community including multi-heritage groups, resident communities, carer and local charity groups and a transgender group.

BCA chief executive Dawn Giles said: “We wanted to give a voice to some of the different communities in Bedford who may not always be heard.

“This commission will give people the opportunity to explore, discuss and co-produce their collective dreams as an artwork for all to experience.”

Two events based on the billboards are coming up. On Sunday, March 29, there is The Peoples’ Hustings, where local politicians will be joining the BCA on a tour of the billboards to discuss the issues they raise.

On Sunday, April 5, artists Dash n Dem will be leading a tour discussing the history of the political cartoon and political advertising.

Both tours are free but booking is essential. For more details, and map of where to find the billboards, go to www.bedfordcreativearts.org.uk or follow #Bedfordvoices on Twitter.