Civic State is a non-profit social enterprise. It’s focus is facilitating the exchange of ideas, empowering people and communities to be informed, active citizens and supporting innovative business models for socioeconomic resilience with arts and culture at its heart.

We work in a cross sector capacity for communities from a local to international level, developing sustainable business models, entrepreneurship, re-enacting the commons, creating physical and virtual space for culture to be shared, creativity to inspire and people to learn from one another.

The three directions of change that we adopt are:

  • building a Cultural Identity based on principles of: Learning, Integrity, Citizenship, Ethics, Social Justice and Ecology
  • Organisational Practice – building institutions too create and protect common resources and provide empirical research
  • Informing Systems change, sharing, advising and promoting the learning and innovation from the practice and making this available to everyone as a common resource

Over the past 12 years the founder, Neil McDonald has set up several non-profit organisations all working practically within the commons discourse, creating accessible resources for socioeconomic development and giving strategic advice to communities and government alike, giving talks and seminars and leading numerous campaigns. Currently he is undertaking an MA – Design for Cultural Commons at London Metropolitan University, designing a Civic Curriculum working in partnership with a wide stakeholder base using Civic State’s common resources as leverage for furthering the commons discourse and implementation.

Stour Space (2009), the original project, still exists as an independent ecosystem of business and community and until Covid-19 saw over 100,000 people a year attending its exhibitions and events from a diverse range of people providing safe space, a true civic space, even hosting national and local election polls in it’s gallery. Over the last year Stour has diversified its organisational structure giving birth to Stour Studios, Stour Galleries and Stour Cafe which operate independently and in additional creative hubs, allowing greater reach and additional opportunities for empowerment.

A beautiful article here:

Hackney Wick and Fish Island Community Development Trust (HWFI, CDT), was an evolution of Stour Space at an area wide level which saw a consortium of local civic and cultural organisations come together to strategically influence the development of the area of (HWFI) adjacent to the London 2012 Olympics.

In response to the tenuous nature of the area, the CDT positions itself as a (self declared and now authorityrecognised) Hyper Local Authority, actively engaging with communities, authorities and developers. The CDT was a defining factor in the area being designated as one of the first Mayor of London Creative Enterprise Zones with Civic State leading the short/mid/long term Strategy in a practical way.

WICK CNC is a non-profit CNC micro-factory, using robotics to create among other things, sustainable modular buildings (partnership with U-Build) that is zero waste, works of art, design and furniture, training and employment opportunities to local people. The project takes advantage of the Mayor of London Good Growth funding of £50,000 in the purchase and use of a CNC machine. The wider project however was underfunded and so Wick CNC was created to solve a problem whereby as a not profit the org uses the machine to make a surplus, reinvesting it to fund the authority projects as well contribute to resilience of the HWFI Creative Enterprise Zone, as well a complementing the resource base of Civic State.

Innovative and broad partnerships include those of Queen Mary University, Innovate UK, Loughborough University, University College London, London Metropolitan, London School of Economics, and many more.

Other partnerships include:

  • DoH Bakery
  • Innovate Uk/Loughborough – Graham and Frederico
  • Queen Mary – Impact of Covid on diversity in workspaces – Morag
  • Met
  • UCL 
  • Library of things
  • House of automation