- Speakers Corner Trust - http://www.speakerscornertrust.org -

RSA Journal – 25 June 2007

Speakers’ Corner: Promoting free speech,
open debate and active citizenship

Background: The original Speakers’ Corner, in London’s Hyde Park, has long been a potent symbol of Britain’s tradition of free speech. More recently, Euan Edworthy, a young British businessman living in Prague, decided to contribute to the civil life of the newly democratic nation by replicating the concept in the Czech capital.

With the help of Peter Bradley, then MP for The Wrekin, the Prague Speakers’ Corner was inaugurated in November 2004. Its success and the interest it has stimulated, both in the UK and overseas, has prompted Edworthy and Bradley to establish the Speakers’ Corner Trust (SCT) to undertake similar initiatives in the UK and in emerging democracies abroad.

Aims: With public engagement in civil society in this country at an all-time low, the SCT is establishing a UK programme, which aims to work with the public, private and voluntary sectors and local communities to:

As well as designating specific public spaces as Speakers’ Corners where appropriate, the SCT will form local committees to organise schedules of public events, which will be supported by educational programmes. The UK programme will be piloted with three contrasting projects: one in a major city, one in a small town and one in a rural setting.

SCT director Peter Bradley says: “We want to encourage and enable people from all backgrounds and all parts of the country to share their ideas and opinions in spontaneous, face-to-face discussion and debate. Listening to others and expressing one’s own views is an enriching experience, and helps to restore the basis for tolerant, active and participative community life.

“Identifying the right people to lead local initiatives will be the key to our success, and we believe that RSA Fellows will want to take up the challenge.”

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