Special Initiatives

SCT has formed a number of partnerships with major organisations through which it is able to pursue special initiatives which it could not undertake alone. It has, for example, worked with the Southbank Centre on the production of Speaking Out, a download designed to provide an introduction to the basic skills required for speaking in public, and with Central St Martins College of Art & Design, part of the University of the Arts London, on the design of prototype Speakers’ Corners.


  • The People’s Hustings

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    The 2015 general election campaign presents a unique opportunity for local Speakers’ Corner Committees – and/or other local groups – to help engage local people in the debates which will shape the election’s outcome.

    The People’s Hustings initiative, successfully piloted during the 2010 campaign, is designed to help revitalise the receding tradition of face-to-face political engagement which, in providing a platform for candidates, also renders them accountable to the voters. But this proposal goes an important step further by enabling the public rather than the politicians to set the agenda.

    If you are organising an event or thinking of doing so, the People’s Hustings Briefing Note 2015 may provide useful advice about how to plan for one.

    Background – GE 2010

    Four of SCT’s local projects (in Bristol, Lichfield, Lincoln and Nottingham) organised People’s Hustings during the short campaign of the 2010 general election. At each, a range of voluntary groups were invited to set out their priorities for the next government; members of the public were encouraged to express their views and the party candidates were asked to respond spontaneously to what they had heard. A broader debate then followed. 

    Taking place at lunchtime at the cities’ respective Speakers’ Corners, all in busy city centre locations, the Hustings were attended by the candidates of all the major parties, drew large crowds and covered a wide range of issues and policy areas.

    In Lincoln, voluntary groups introduced topics including debt, environmental protection, homelessness, overseas aid, addiction and LGBT rights.

    In Lichfield, they raised the issues of defence, education, health, the environment, prisons policy and the local economy.

    In Bristol they featured the rights of ethnic minorities, the burden of tuition fees, the needs of families in poverty, lack of public influence on decision-taking and barriers to employment.

    The Hustings were … read more »

  • Speakers’ Corner at the Being Human Festival

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    Following the success of the debates they organised in the British Library’s piazza to coincide with its Propaganda, Power & Persuasion exhibition in 2013, SCT and the Library joined forces again to promote two Speakers’ Corner events at the Too Much Information – Being human in a digital age event at London University’s Senate House on 15 November 2014.

    The first, on Truth, Propaganda and Purpose, was introduced by the Guardian columnist Zoe Williams and the second, on Truth, Lies and the Individual, was led by Jeremy Gilbert, Professor of Cultural and Political Theory at the University of East London.Both debates attracted large audiences and stimulated lively debate among them.

  • Speakers’ Corner at the British Library

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    SCT collaborated with the British Library in a series of mini debates which took place during the Library’s ground-breaking Propaganda: Power and Persuasion exhibition which ran from 17 May to 17 September 2013.

    Four open-air lunchtime debates took place over 45 minutes between 2 and 5 September in the Poet’s Circle in the Library’s piazza. Distinguished experts in their fields made brief introductions to themes – which addressed such questions as whether propaganda can serve a public interest, how it interacts with new media, its influence on the news and its relationship with free speech – before opening up the debate to all comers. All the events took place in warm sunshine and stimulated lively debate among attentive and appreciative audiences.

  • Designing Speakers’ Corners

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    SCT has worked with Central St Martins College of Art & Design, part of the University of the Arts London, on the design of a prototype Speakers’ Corner which was successfully trialled at the Global Forum for Freedom of Expression in Oslo in June 2009. Subject to funding, SCT now plans to work with partners on the design of a mobile Speakers’ Corner.

  • Speaking in Public

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    Everyone has good ideas and strong opinions. But few have the confidence or experience to communicate them to others. SCT jointly commissioned with the Southbank Centre a downloadable film Speaking Out! which provides a fifteen-minute introduction to the basic skills required to speak confidently and effectively in public.

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