During our first year we offered a programme of ’52 Things’ made with and for the city’s creative community to showcase the fantastic people and places in our city. You can find the full 52 here.

What happens when you choreograph a dance for 3 industrial cranes on a city’s harbour side on an October evening? In Bristol 10,000 people turn up to watch. This film documenting that spectacle and a talk by the artist behind it, Laura Kriefman, opened an inspiring day of talks and workshops on the ‘Playable City’, which Creative Cardiff attended as part of Bristol’s recent ‘Festival of the Future City’.

Playable City is a concept developed by the team at Bristol's Watershed. It's a framework they use to initiate conversations about the city through a shared experience of play. In their words. “By transforming city spaces into places of unexpected interaction the Playable City is a conversation starter towards the change we would like to see in our cities of the future.”

Throughout the day we heard from people in the UK and around the world who have taken up this invitation to act. Chomko & Rosier’s ‘Shadowing’, the winner of last year’s Playable City award gave memory to Bristol's city lights, enabling them to record and play back the shadows of those who passed underneath. They shared some of this video showing people interacting with their own and others’ shadows.

Peter Bazalgette from Arts Council England stressed the importance of civic leadership, stating “you have leadership in this city who believe in the value of arts, culture and the creative industries”. As Matthew Rosier from ChomkoRosier confirmed: “It's not about dictating the activity in a city but creating the invitation to act”. Much was made of the capacity of creative, playful interventions in a city to improve the quality of life in a city, which links to Cardiff’s ambition to be the UK’s most liveable city.

While Peter Bazalgette and others stressed the need to have strategic city-wide plans for culture and the arts in a city, they also stressed the need to innovate at a very local level and to create more provisional, symbolic gestures. Theaster Gates’ Sanctum was given as an example. This intimate, temporary space hosted a continuous programme of sound over 552 hours in a temporary structure within the shell of Temple Church, Bristol. The project responded to the question ‘What’s missing in our city?’ and the answer was to provide a space for intimate encounters and opportunities for people to connect with each other.

The day wouldn't have been complete without the opportunity to put the theory into practive and play a game in the streets of Bristol. 'Sneaks and blaggers' involved searching in teams for small, coloured paper tokens while avoiding the siren-carrying 'blaggers' who could shout "I see you" and reclaim all our tokens in an instant. The game was fun, of course, but what was more interesting was the response from those around us. A van driver stopped to inform us he'd seen some "yellow ones" and a market trader allowed us to hide behind her stall. The city joined in with the game, we saw different places and our memory of that space and the people in it is not the same as if we had just passed through. Playing in the streets changed our experience of the city. 

In Cardiff playARK has brought play to the city's streets (and other spaces) and yello brick, the company behind playARK were at the Playable City Day with us. Their next event is on 15 December - Santa’s Snow Dash - a festive themed game played out in the streets of the city centre. Tickets are £7. 

If you’re interested in getting involved in something further afield then a Playable City lab will be taking place in Lagos, Nigeria in 2016. They’re currently looking for 3 UK based creatives, from any discipline, who believe they can start a new kind of city conversation through play. The deadline for the Open Call is 5 January.

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