Democracy, Culture & Creativity inside one little shop and everyone’s invited.
A shop which sells nothing and where ideas, information and conversation are free.
And so is the tea.
Transforming cultural and democratic participation one conversation at a time
“Every town should have a Talking Shop” – Talking Shop Visitor
The Talking Shop and The Democracy Box and all associated content is copyright Omidaze Productions/Yvonne Murphy 2020. All rights reserved.
Yvonne Murphy has been developing the concept of The Talking Shop – (a democratic, cultural and creative innovation and information centre)– since 2017. The Talking Shop is a public creative space inside a disused shop in a town or city centre created by Yvonne Murphy/Omidaze and hosted and facilitated six days a week by trained professional freelance artists and creatives, Democracy Box young co-creators and co-hosts from collaborating and partner organisations.
Yvonne Murphy/Omidaze is developing the use of creative approaches to deliberative democracy and exploring how creativity, conversation and information can be combined and used to increase both cultural and democratic participation.
The Talking Shop© was piloted in Cardiff in 2019 and led to the creation of The Democracy Box©. Young people told us that as well as digital information and getting it into schools they also want this information in person and face to face. So we came right back to where we began with the physical space of The Talking Shop and put The Democracy Box inside on the wall, on the screens and in bilingual booklets that you can take away with you.
In 2022 Omidaze began trials of The Talking Shop across Wales incorporating The Democracy Box to create a blueprint The Talking Shop and create a proof of concept to enable The Talking Shop to exist in any town.
The main aim of The Talking Shop is to tackle our democratic deficit and increase cultural and democratic participation both at and beyond the ballot box. However Omidaze have began to realise in 2019 that the benefits and impact of The Talking Shop model far outreach these main aims.
The Talking Shop trials to date have evidenced the power of the model increase democratic and cultural participation and tackle polarisation in communities and society and how help us confront some of society’s most pressing issues including isolation and loneliness; mental health and well-being and inter-generational connection; community cohesion and urban regeneration. You can read here about the emerging themes from the trails to date
Everyone is welcome. There is no need to book. Just pop in and stay for as long as you like. Free WiFi. Free tea. Free information and conversation. You can join in a conversation or programmed activity or work, study, read, draw, think, meet people or just find a quiet place to just ‘be’.
Trained hosts begin open conversations around democratic and cultural engagement. Hosts introduce the public to The Democracy Box and Omidaze’s the story of our UK democracy© and signpost visitors to democratic and cultural information.
On The Talking Shop walls are big open questions which are used to centre and focus conversations between complete strangers who enter and meet over a cuppa.
Everyone contributes to and helps curate the shop. The Talking Shop aims to address the current democratic deficit by raising democratic participation (including but not limited to registering to vote) through conversation, information and creative approaches to democratic deliberation.
The Talking Shop’s creative approaches to deliberative democracy have included bunting making, collaging (individual and collective), stone painting, poetry, journaling, origami, knitting, crocheting, music, podcasting, creative writing, paper lantern making, graffiti, Christmas crafts, clay modelling, pompom making, illustration, zine making, dance and spoken word.
Everything inside The Talking Shop is being carefully designed and created in response to years of research and thousands of visitors and their feedback.
The Talking Shop has a zero or minimal carbon footprint. All furniture and shop dressing is begged, borrowed, gifted and recycled.
Cardiff 36-38 Castle Arcade April – July 2022
Newport Unit 9 Friars Walk Newport April 2022
Merthyr Tydfil October 2022 – February 2023
A Final Talking Shop Trial will be confirmed shortly.
Omidaze are trialing Talking Shops in towns across Wales from Spring 2022 – Spring 2024 in order to create a blueprint for The Talking Shop and increase cultural and democratic participation both at and beyond the ballot box.
Omidaze passionately believe that new money is not needed to make a Talking Shop sustainable and long term. Rather multiple stakeholders (cross departments of local authorities together with cultural organisations, public service boards, regional partnership boards and additional partners and collaborators) need to come together and use their various budgets strands for public consultation, engagement and participation in a more joined up, creative and effective manner.
The Talking Shop model has now been trialed successfully in Cardiff, Newport and Merthyr Tydfil in 2022/23 and has engaged over 8400 visitors with no dedicated marketing budget.
Visitors range from 6 months to 96 years old and include all socio/economic demographics with a high percentage of young people aged 16-30 and visitors represent the full range of democratically engaged from self-declared non-engagement to highly engaged citizens. Omidaze’s work to date has successfully evidenced that a majority of Welsh citizens do not currently understand how our democracy works and fits together and need a shared baseline of information before they can engage in meaningful democratic deliberation. The Talking Shop and The Democracy Box combined address this identified need.
The prototyping of The Talking Shop© and The Democracy Box© and creative approaches to deliberative democracy will be complete by spring 2024.
For up to date news on The Talking Shop visit us on twitter @omidaze and Instagram and Facebook @omidazeproductions.
It’s a place to find out what’s on, to share stuff you know that’s happening with others & also find out about the basics of our democracy & how it actually works & fits together so perhaps we can all begin to understand it & write the next chapter together.
It’s a place where you can meet others, not be alone, or find a space to call your own.
It’s a space where you don’t need money to enter or be & someone will make you a free cup of tea.
It’s a space where you can just hang out, work, sit, think, dream, read, get connected, be welcomed, informed, inspired, signposted and heard.
It’s a space for the young, the old & everyone in between. It’s a shop which sells nothing because ideas, conversation and information are free.
An open and safe space for the public and creatives to be informed citizens and collide, converse, connect, collude and create.
A space to find out what’s on and what’s what.
The Talking Shop© is non-partisan and neutral. It is not affiliated to or supported by any political party and holds no political or religious view. The only agenda of The Talking Shop is to increase democratic and cultural engagement and participation through information, conversation and creativity.
The Talking Shop is a physical ‘what’s on’ and ‘what’s what?’ cultural and democratic hub which everyone helps curate. It is a public space which explores the intersection between cultural and democratic participation and creative approaches to democratic deliberation.
A space with information, creation and conversation at its core.
A space in which to articulate, champion and strengthen the role of the creativity and democracy in society and empower through a sharing of information and knowledge. A place which encourages and facilitates public engagement with creativity, arts and culture and democratic participation
All Talking Shops© contain The Democracy Box©.
Read the 2019 Cardiff pilot here
Read the emerging themes summary interim report from the ongoing 2022/2023 trials here
The Talking Shop has been created by Yvonne Murphy and is an Omidaze Productions project.
“None of us are as smart as all of us” Japanese proverb
Big thanks to @TheAbbieC for coming to interview us at #TheTalkingShop #Merthyr for ITV & hosts/@TheDemocracyBox co-creators @KatReesCreative.
@the_blank_face for being interviewed.
We’re open all day Mon-Sat from 9.30 St Tydfil Shopping Centre until January & everyone’s invited pic.twitter.com/ZXMW7yTahu
— Omidaze Productions (@omidaze) November 4, 2022
Yvonne Murphy was directing and producing Romeo and Juliet – Omidaze’s final part of the Shakespeare Trilogy in 2017 (co-productions with the Wales Millennium Centre) when the concept of The Talking Shop began to be fully formed. The concept came from her time as UK strategic lead to the UK wide cultural movement What Next? in 2014 and her desire to include the public in that conversation and her growing understanding that she was not in the minority as someone who had’t fully understood our UK democracy.
Yvonne became fascinated by the intersection between cultural and democratic information, conversation and participation. This led her to create an interactive workshop for schools which accompanied Romeo and Juliet and which as well explaining the play and iambic pentameter explained how our UK democracy works and fits together.
The workshop was a success and educators and adults who heard about it said that they needed it too. A public R&D was the next step.
Yvonne knew that she wanted to focus on political and cultural engagement and participation and wanted to research two things -her next production(s) and the concept of The Talking Shop itself.
To do both these things she knew she had to seek out voices that are currently under-represented in our theatres, our live performances and our audiences. She wanted to listen carefully to what excites, angers, engages and inspires people in Wales and Britain today. She wanted to hear people’s views and thoughts on politics, culture and society. She knew she needed to not be behind closed doors to develop the next Omidaze production. She knew she needed to stop doing the talking and listen. Really listen. And perhaps have some difficult conversations. What she didn’t know was that The Talking Shop itself would become Omidaze’s next and biggest production to date although one of the earliest visitors made her start to understand that when they said
“This is theatre that you are doing right here, this conversation now is theatre in it’s purest form”
The Talking Shop pilot took place between March 25 and April 20 2019 in 33 High Street Arcade Cardiff and was an Omidaze Productions R&D project made possible through the support of National Theatre Wales under Artistic Director Kully Thiarai with additional support from Catherine Paskell & Dirty Protest, Creative Cardiff, Senedd Cymru & our team of volunteers including Lewis Gwyther, Jennifer Lunn, Ella Maxwell, Shane Nickels, Clare Issac and George Soave. Playwrights in residence were Kyle Lima, Tracy Harris and Dick Johns.
The Talking Shop pilot was designed by Yvonne Murphy along with 2nd year USW Design Students Bethan Thomas & Ashley Phillips with illustrations by 2nd year Cardiff Met CSAD students Maria Elorza Saralegui & Vicky Yang and was further curated during the month it was open by over 550 visitors including creatives and artists or all disciplines and members of the public from all over the world. Everyone had free tea courtesy of Cardiff City Council.
“Love this space. Very Welcoming and Open” Talking Shop Pilot Visitor 2019
Partners and Funders:
Caerphilly County Borough Council
Future Generations Commissioner for Wales
National Theatre Wales
The Cares Family
The Electoral Commission
The Riverfront Theatre & Arts Centre, Newport (via a Welsh Government Local Elections Grant)
Wales Millennium Centre and Creu Cyffro
Anthem, Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, Caerphilly Council, Cardiff Council, Clwstwr, Conwy Council, Creative Cardiff, Cwm Taf Public Services Board, Cwm Taf Morgannwg Regional Partnership Board, Dr Anwen Elias, Reader in Politics, Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University, Dr Matthew Wall, Associate Professor, Politics, Philosophy and International Relations, Swansea University, The Electoral Commission, Electoral Reform Society Cymru, Head4Arts, Hub Cymru Africa, Future Generations Commissioner in Wales, I Have a Voice, Institute for Welsh Affairs, Lana St Leger – Cardiff Met University, Llais, Media Cymru, Menter Laith Caerffili, Menter Iaith/Theatr Soar, Merthyr Tydfil, Merthyr Tydfil Central Library, Merthyr Tydfil Council, National Library of Wales Archive, National Theatre of Wales, Neighbourhood Democracy Movement, Newport Council, Newport Rising, The Open University, Operasonic, The Politics Project, Professor Laura McAllister, Professor of Public Policy and the Governance of Wales at the Wales Governance Centre, The Riverfront Arts Centre, Seren Publishing, Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel, Swansea MAD, The Abbey Theatre, Dublin, The Politics Project, The Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament Engagement Team, University of South Wales, Urdd, Wales Millennium Centre, WISERD, Welsh Centre for International Affairs, Youth Cymru.
For further information or if you would like to support this work and/or be a collaborator/co-host please email Yvonne Murphy aka Omidaze (OhMyDays!)Productions firstname.lastname@example.org
“Evocative and inspiring to a level I could not imagine.” Talking Shop pilot visitor 2019
The Talking Shop™ is a public space in which to articulate, champion and strengthen the role of culture and democracy in society and empower and inform people and thereby increase participation through a sharing of information and knowledge.
We invite all artists & creatives and the public to use the space to work, to think, to talk, to find stuff out, to share, to be. To collide, converse, connect, collude & create. Together.
In The Talking Shop™ you can find out things. What is on in theatres and performance spaces in your town or city. What shows are on in galleries, what exhibitions were happening, concerts and workshops. You can find out about creative learning and participation projects and how to book an artist to deliver work in your school or business. It was a physical listings hub. A place to drop in and find stuff out. To add to. To be part of. It was a physical ‘What’s On’ Space which everyone helps create and curate.
The Talking Shop™ is a place to find out about and understand our democratic structures and systems. It had no political bias or party affiliation. Our democratic systems are explained. The difference, for example, between local elections and general elections. You can pick up The Democracy Box Story of our UK Democracy bilingual booklet or read the story on the walls or watch Democracy Box content on the screens or via QR codes. You can read posters and leaflets with information from the Welsh Parliament, UK parliament and your local councilor. You can find out who your elected representatives are, when they hold surgeries and how to contact them and who is responsible for what. You can find out how to start a petition, how to give evidence to or contact a committee and be informed about who holds the power, who represents you and how to get your voice heard all year round and not just at the ballot box. Access, Engagement and Social Justice were and are key.
The Talking Shop™ is for artists, creatives and the public to get together, share ideas, collaborate. It is a new way of working. We invite people to just pop in and sit on the sofa. Have a cup of tea and be inspired, challenged, informed. Work. Listen. Network. Research. Artists and creatives and members of the public are invited to use the space, to just drop in and meet each other and try and test out new ideas. Or old ones because sometimes they’re the best. To share information, ask questions, discuss. Questions are all around the shop and the public are invited to discuss a new question each day, to step inside. To think about this. Together. We also programme free weekly creative activities hosted and facilitated by us and our partners and collaborators
Tracy Harris, Kyle Lima & Dick Johns were The Talking Shop pilot writers in residence and received dramaturgical support from Omidaze and our partners National Theatre Wales and Catherine Paskell at Dirty Protest.
A sample of their work which came from The Talking Shop was presented as Public Rehearsed Readings in June 2019 funded by NTW. Kyle Lima went on to receive a seed commission from National Theatre Wales to write the first full draft of his play. Both this and Dick Johns’ full length play were given public rehearsed readings directed by Yvonne Murphy inside The Talking Shop Merthyr Tydfil in January 2023 funded by Wales Millennium Centre.
“Just wanted to send you a message after Thursday’s Talking Shop event, to say how important I think your work is. I know the Talking Shop has all sorts of amazing benefits but the key on for me is the social side of things – not only finding people through networking which allows us to take steps toward leading the life we want, as well as helping others do the same – but also just simply finding people to talk to… There’s such a feeling of importance to this whole project. I hope something can come out of it.”
Lucy – Talking Shop Visitor and Rehearsed Readings Audience Member
The main cost of The Talking Shop is the shop unit plus the freelance hosts. To date (following the 2019 pilot made possible by National Theatre Wales under Artistic Director Kully Thiarai) we have secured funding for a one month trial in Newport, three months in Cardiff and three months in Merthy Tydfil. Omidaze were part of the first Cares Family Multiplier Programme funded by UnLtd and were awarded a small grant towards reopening & developing The Talking Shop™in 2022. This has covered one month of the Cardiff Shop. A Local Government Elections Division Third Sector Grant awarded to the Riverfront supported one month of the Cardiff Talking Shop and the one month Newport trial Talking Shop. Omidaze went into partnership with the Future Generations Commissioner in November 2021 . We are developing The Democracy Box™ and The Talking Shop™ through this partnership and their investment in Omidaze supported the third month of the Talking Shop™ in Cardiff . The Wales Millennium Centre funded the Merthyr Tydfil shop from a project they are partnering on with Creu Cyffro. Future trials in Conwy and Blaenau Gwent are subject to successful funding bids made in partnership with the Local Council in each area.
Please click on the links below for info on our four productions to date: