Meet social enterpreneur and storyteller and all round creative guy, Mark Ashmore….
Where are you based currently in the NW?
I work out of the Sharp Project, an amazing creative hub space and film studio in east manchester, and last year i escaped the city and moved to Todmorden, home of the amazing incredible edible – such a relaxed town with a cool vibe.
What’s your background and what do you currently do professionally?
I started my career as a jobbing actor, working in TV and Theatre, but my passion for storytelling, found me working as a writer / director and producer – i enjoy both sides, but find that behind the scenes you get more things done professionally from my point of view – i like to tell stories that inspire others to take action, and maybe make a change, socially challenging films –
Its this progression from storyteller to activist that led me to co-found the Future Artists co op collective – I split my time between making a living as a film-maker and running a co-op network of creatives dedicated to making ‘change’ and ‘diversity’ happen.
What social actions are you passionate about?
As a film-maker I have worked to give returning soldiers from Afghanistan a voice, worked with collectives who occupy and create wonderful theatrical happenings in empty buildings and distributed a film telling the real story of the 2011 Riots and that’s just the tip of the iceberg… My passion is with those that are taking risks and pushing what is creative in our human world – I live by the mantra by frank zappa, ‘without deviation from the norm progress is not possible‘ – that is where you will find my social conscious
What social action projects are you involved in and how could other fellows get involved?
We are just about to launch a Kickstarter to raise the seed money to launch a new kind of business and take on the tax dodging coffee chains – ‘Home of Honest Coffee’ is a workers co-op, established in January 2014 to reclaim the UK highstreet from the corporate fats cats. Imagine quality fair trade coffee, roasted on site and yummy locally sourced veggie foods served till late, how about afternoon tea and cake surrounded by a world class art gallery – a place where the profits are turned into community grants and a space to start that next great idea – Our first one will be in Manchester, BUT to make this dream a reality we need your help – join our kickstarter today at www.futureartists.coop and find out more.
When did you become a fellow and who or what motivated you to join?
I got a letter through the post a couple of years ago, saying I have been selected to join, which was really nice, I hadn’t really heard of the RSA until that day – i’m from a small mining community in derbyshire, and such things like the RSA are another world to that kind of place – since being asked, it has given me amazing confidence to do what i do, which is use my creativity to make social change happen – knowing that all the other fellows are like me, from the same mind set, is really cool to know – for a while i thought it was just me!
How have you been involved with RSA to date – locally or nationally? Is there anything else you’d like to be more involved in?
I attend meetings and communicate with my fellows on a weekly basis, and i’m always on hand to help where i can – and with projects like honest coffee, my involvement is with the RSA via its Kickstarter page and also via all the fellows that will be getting involved – I love these big projects as they bring a sense of collective idealism to everyday life, and the act of just doing i always say show success – I am really active in my community and would’nt want to do more than i’m doing – for fear of burn out!
If you woke up suddenly one morning and you could gain a new skill, what would it be?
I wish I was good at spreadsheets, no matter how hard i try, they repel me! this is hard, when budgeting projects – i have my own systems, but being dyslexic, i think i pictures, and i think the structure of a spreadsheet and the maths, just switches my brain off!
If you could have dinner with a social change agent or social enterpreneur, living or dead, who would it be, why and what would you eat?
My ideal dinner party is John Lennon so we can talk arts activism, Jamie Oliver so we can talk why what you eat, makes you who you are and why he gives so much back, and then meet all my NW fellows at the buffet and invite them to talk too! – Change is where you see it.
What RSA NW activities would you like to see happen?
I think more social events and more coffee mornings, i would be happy to host one at our new space if we get the funding for it!
Related articles/ links:
- Support RSA Fellows projects on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/pages/rsa
- Learn more about the ‘Home of Honest Coffee’ kickstarter and idea http://www.futureartists.coop
- Read an interview with Mark Ashmore talking film http://www.creativetimes.co.uk/articles/5-questions-with-mark-ashmore-future-artists