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Press release

Marcus Coates announced as Bank of America Merrill Lynch Create Art Award 2013 winner


Create London celebrates 5 years of the largest participatory art award in the UK


Create London has today announced that the recipient of the prestigious Bank of America Merrill Lynch Create Art Award for 2013 is leading London artist Marcus Coates.

Coates’ commission ‘A School of the Imagination’ will be set up in Bethnal Green in east London, and the artist will invite local groups, individuals and community leaders to learn techniques to use their imagination as a powerful, personal and social tool for themselves and others around them.

Coates has been working in the Bethnal Green area since May 2013 and will continue until July, meeting local groups, individuals and community leaders to learn about their relationship with their local environment.

In exchange for people’s time and consideration, Coates will offer an invitation to come together with a disparate group of individuals to form a ‘School of the Imagination’ and take part in a course in unique problem solving and creative thinking techniques.

During the sessions, Coates will work with the participants to expand their problem solving capabilities and encourage them to test their new skills by exploring ways of unlocking social and community problems in their communities in an inclusive way.

At the end of the week-long series of workshops, as the participants head back into the real world, Coates will create a final showcase. This will be performed by the participants and other local people on behalf of the community. Local schools will be invited to be part of the project through an accompanying series of workshops.

The project, which is co-produced with Nomad, will be filmed with a documentary premiered in Bethnal Green and subsequently screened at the Barbican in October 2013.

Marcus Coates said: ‘Our imagination can offer us a link to our unconscious minds. We all have within us a limitless capacity for creativity and innovation, but are not taught how to harness this capability as a tool for the problems of everyday life. Thanks to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Create Art Award I am delighted to be able to set up this School of Imagination. I'm excited about the introducing people to these practical ideas and working creatively with communities to develop new practical problem-solving tool for themselves.’

Hadrian Garrard, Director, Create London, said: ‘Commissioning Marcus Coates for the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Create Art Award will make a tangible difference to local people in Tower Hamlets. The project will develop new skills for a disparate group of individuals in east London, with the intention of encouraging them to use their imagination as a tool to help themselves and others. The School of Imagination is a brilliant and exciting idea that will be a fitting mark for the fifth year of the largest participatory art award in the UK.’

Andrea Sullivan, Head of Corporate Responsibility for Europe and Emerging Markets (ex-Asia), Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said: ‘Our collaboration with Create is premised on both organisations' belief that mutual respect and understanding are essential to fostering strong communities and that art has the unique ability to connect people.”

‘The Create Art Award was originally conceived to bind together the disparate cultural communities in east London in the years leading to the Olympic Games. The Award's continuation beyond the festivities is testament to Create's ability to have had measurable impact engaging and creating meaningful dialogue between groups of people who might not otherwise connect. We are pleased to have been able to use our capital to help regenerate the community and to help place the creativity of East London at the heart of London’s cultural success.’

Previous award recipients include London based Scottish performance and installation artist Ruth Ewan, London based design & architecture collective Assemble, nature and culture website and organisers of the Port Eliot Festival Caught by the River, internationally renowned physical performance art and theatre company Station House Opera, and leading event, performance and exhibition artist Joshua Sofaer. Over the past five years the award has enabled a temporary cinema to be built under a motorway, new municipal gardens planted across east London parks, and a history lesson at the Savoy Hotel for hundreds of teenagers.

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Editor’s Notes

About Marcus Coates

Marcus Coates (b. 1968) lives and works in London. He is represented by Kate MacGarry and Workplace Gallery.

Recent solo exhibitions include: The Trip, The Serpentine Gallery, Artist

Studio, London (2011); Implicit Sound, ESPAI 13/Fundaci— Joan Mir—. Barcelona, Spain (2010); Psychopomp, Milton Keynes Gallery, Milton Keynes, (2010).

Recent group exhibition include:

Galapagos, Bluecoat Liverpool, Fruitmarket Edinbugh and Centro de Arte Moderna Lisbon (2012/3) Transformation, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan (2010); Adaptation, The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada (2010); THE BEAUTY OF DISTANCE: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age, Sydney Biennale, Australia (2010); ALTERMODERN Tate Triennial, Tate Britain, London (2009)

History of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Create Art Award

The UK’s largest participatory art award is now in its fifth year. It enables artists living or working in east London to deliver socially engaged projects and in doing so, provides new and significant opportunities for artists to work with their neighbours. Over the past five years we have seen projects as diverse and ambitious as a temporary cinema built under a motorway, new municipal gardens planted across the city and a history lesson at the Savoy hotel for hundreds of teenagers. The Award seeks out and delivers projects that reach and involve communities in very different ways, asking important questions about the value of artists to local communities and their role in connecting and inspiring people across the city. To date, the Award has actively involved over 15,000 local people and has reached audiences of over 100,000. We are incredibly proud to be marking the fifth anniversary with a major new project with the artist Marcus Coates and to be continuing this inspiring work with Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

About Create London

Create London is supported by main sponsor Deutsche Bank, Legacy Trust UK, Arts Council England, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, City Bridge Trust and the six Growth Boroughs.  Create London is an associate partner of the Barbican

Producing and commissioning socially engaged projects in east London for the past four years, Create London exists to spread the benefits of the artistic and creative community of east London to local people. Create London commissions and produce multi-disciplinary art projects in east London, which extend the barriers of socially engaged practice. Our conviction is in the power of art to make a positive contribution to our daily lives, encouraging debate, constructive change and social progress.

By working outside of traditional cultural spaces and building virtuous circles between artists, creative organisations and local people, we strive to nurture and grow the ambitions of our communities. Despite having the highest concentration of artists and creative businesses in Europe, east London has remarkably low levels of cultural engagement and remains one of the most deprived parts of the UK. Create London works to bridge the traditional divisions of class, culture, education, and social background between our creative community and local people.

By commissioning major projects, attracting new audiences and working in partnership to profile the cultural life of the area, Create London has a vital role to play in the continued economic regeneration of east London. Our programme is underpinned by Create London Jobs, which provides mentoring, support and paid employment opportunities and for local young people.

For more info go to, or find us on Twitter

About Bank of America Merrill Lynch

In 2008 Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Create London collaborated to launch the Create Art Award, focusing on making art both accessible and participatory for as many people in London as possible.

Developing solutions for social and environmental challenges is at the core of Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s responsibility platform. In more than 100 markets around the world, the company partners with shareholders, clients, customers and employees to create shared value that empowers individuals and communities to thrive, whilst simultaneously contributing to the long-term success of our business. Bank of America Merrill Lynch focuses on responsible business practices, environmental sustainability, advancing opportunity in local communities through education and employability programmes, investing in global leadership development, and promoting cultural understanding. By harnessing our intellectual capital, sharing knowledge and developing innovative solutions, we can provide opportunities that effect positive change for all. Learn more at and follow us on Twitter at @BofA_Community.

Visit the Bank of America newsroom for more Bank of America news.


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