Understanding the Monetary and Banking System Through the Arts

We have a dysfunctional monetary system, whereby 97% of money is created through the digital issuing of debt by commercial banks, yet after 10 years of government bailouts these institutions are still not meeting the nations lending needs. And, are at a key point in history with: the global debt to GDP ratio now higher than it was in 2008, increasing both global inequality and political volatility; and decentralised programmable currencies such as bitcoin, as well as local currencies such as the Bristol Pound, challenging the status quo.

  • What is the future of money in a globalised, digital age?

  • What are the possible implications of a monetary revolution?

  • And how can artistic interventions nurture an understanding and stimulate debate about this topic?

This September marks 10 years since the global financial crisis and CoResist and I are taking this as an opportunity to produce an arts festival bringing together newly commissioned and existing work which explore the monetary, banking and financial system. This ‘Moneytree Festival’ will span 6 days and be situated in venues and open spaces around Bristol. The plan is to: commission 6 participatory interventions created collaboratively between pairs of artists and economists exhibited alongside 3 existing works in public spaces around the city; a symposium discussing the role of artists in aiding debate about the banking system; and a series of creative workshops with young people running up to the event.

Image credit: BankRun at The Plymouth Art Weekender

Key Aim

The aim of the Moneytree Festival is to create space and stimulus for conversations about the future of money to be held. We are aiming to reach a broad audience, from those already interested in economics or art, to day-trippers looking for an unusual event, shoppers and most importantly young people, who will ultimately dictate the direction of change.

Key Outputs

Subject to funding

  • 6 newly commissioned, temporary, participatory public works created by artists in collaboration with economists and economic think tanks and exhibited on the 15th of September in open space around Bristol as part of the ‘MoneyTree Festival’ art trail.

  • 3 existing and related temporary, participatory public works to be exhibited as part of the trail.

  • Immersive exhibition at Hamilton House - the ‘Bank of CoResist’.

  • Symposium at the Watershed (very brief outline):

10-12:30 - Introduction

Hearing from the artists and economists involved in the collaborative commissions

12:30-14:30 - Time to have lunch and go to see the trail

14:30-16:30 - Hearing from the young people and facilitators involved in the pre-festival workshops workshops.

  • 3 day-long workshops experimenting with different monetary systems held with young people in the run up to the festival. The outputs of these will be exhibited in the immersive exhibition.

Timeline & Deadlines

1st of Jun: Confirmation from economists looking to collaborate with artists.

15th Jun: Advertise artist ‘call outs’ on a_n, arts council, etc.

6th Jul: Deadline for artist ‘call out’ for collaborations with economists, successful candidates announced on the 8th of June.

1st Aug: Confirmation of speakers for the symposium / artist blurbs.

Symposium tickets released and emailed out to Arts and Economics departments around the UK, Economics think tanks, etc.

8th Aug: Print deadline for programs and posters.  

Aug: Deliver creative money design workshops with young people.

14th Sep: ‘Bank of MoneyTree’ Immersive exhibition opening night.  

15th Sep: Symposium and exhibition of temporary participatory public art works.


  • Be commissioned as an artist to create temporary, participatory public works in collaboration with an economist.

  • Speak at or attend the symposium.

  • Experience the art trail.

Programme Outline

Subject to further development throughout Spring 2018

Temporary, participatory, public art commissions exhibited on the 15th Sep:

  • ‘Autonomous Teller Machine’ by Pete Bennett and Lara Luna Bartley in collaboration with Jo Michael, from UWE to be exhibited on the south wall of the Arnolfini.

Project Confirmed, Venue tbc

  • ‘The Story of Debt’ - Oral storytelling performance by a commissioned storyteller in collaboration with an economist / research academic / historian.

Project Confirmation In Progress, Venue Confirmed

  • Innovative subvertising/detournement arts commission - critiquing high interest loans / or other dubious financial services.

Possible Lead Artists Identified, Venue Unconfirmed

  • Plus 3 collaborations to be commissioned through an ‘open call’ (see timeline above).  

Existing Work to be exhibited alongside the commissions 15th Sep:

  • ‘BankRun’ by Lara Luna Bartley.

  • ‘Free Balloons’ by Richard DeDomenici.

  • Plus 1 more to be commissioned through an ‘open call’ (see timeline above).  

'Bank of CoResist' immersive exhibition at Hamilton House, central hub of the festival 13th - 19th of Sep, opening night on the 14th of Sep.

Venue Confirmed

Symposium to be held at the Watershed on the 15th of September.

Speakers and Venue tbc.

Secured Partners


Why is this festival needed?

“So what is to be done by the forces of good - progressive forces - to stabilise the global financial system and restore employment, political stability and social justice?

First, we need wider public understanding of where money comes from and how the financial system operates”

- Ann Pettifor (2017), The Production of Money: How to Break the Power of Bankers, Verso