Community project aims to write off local debt

A former high street bank in Walthamstow is being run for community benefit in a pioneering and artistic project to print its own money and abolish real local debts.

Bank Job is a film and art project located in the old Co-Op Bank, Hoe Street, Walthamstow, where artist Hilary Powell will train up a team of printmakers to create an art-based currency – printing out Garys, Steves, Sairas and Traceys. These notes, which will be artworks, will be swapped at face value, £1’s, £5’s, £10’s and £50’s will be available, each signed by the artist. The process is being filmed and contextualised by me, Daniel, a documentary filmmaker. We are also hosting eight debates in the old bank.

Our goal is to raise £50,000 from note sales. Half of the funds raised from the sale of the notes will be used to fund the local causes that each of the hero characters represent: the local foodbank, the youth centre, the homeless kitchen and a primary school affected by budget cuts – the other half will be used to buy-up and destroy one million pounds worth of predatory debt from the area.

BANK JOB 2 minuter from Daniel Edelstyn on Vimeo.

We see the excuses for austerity politics justified in terms of ‘living within one’s means’ as a cornerstone of all morality that is associated with the ancient morality of debt; that one should absolutely pay one’s debts.

This philosophy is well and good, but we have noted through our research how it’s always those at the bottom who are paying off their debts or else forced into bankruptcy. But whenever the banks are squeezed for liquidity they receive a magical fix in terms of central bank deposit quantative easing which has seen £435 billion of new money coming into the system from the central bank with the flick of a button since the 2008 crisis.

The fact is that magical money trees do exist, but they don’t exist for common people, and we have to pick up the broken pieces. Our Bank Job is a way of bringing this conversation to life 10 years after the 2008 crisis and perhaps just a short walk from the next cliff edge.

A programme of ‘Money Talks’ ranging from crypto currencies and good credit to debt and democracy brings together big name pundits with local action groups at HSCB. Take a look at the exciting series of events coming up.

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