Hoe Street Central Bank

| Helen Sharp

Recently, I’ve been helping an advocacy service create a policy around their social value. One of the elements of social value often overlooked in favour of the usual ‘social’ and community benefits is the impact on the local economy. How to get the best out of public money. How to ensure the money spent through the service benefits the local economy and stays local.

An unlikely team, seemingly insurmountable odds, even explosions… taking steps towards a future in which money works for us all.

Bank Job

This is something that was taken quite literally by local artists Hilary Powell and Dan Edelstyn. They used a former Co-Op Bank on Hoe Street in the London suburb of Walthamstow to build a centre for citizen money creation. They worked with local people of all ages and walks of life including printmaker Spike Gascoigne and designer Phil Seddon to design and make money. Over two weeks in March this year, they printed £50,000 worth of Bank Job currency in a range of denominations; the Queen’s face was exchanged for the images of local leaders from the foodbank, homeless kitchen, youth project and primary school. Subsequently, they sold the money for real tender.

Hoe Street Central Bank was part art installation, part charitable endeavour. As well as raising money for the projects featured on the bank notes, they aimed to raise enough money to buy out the debt owned by people within the local postcode. Over the two weeks they ran a series of events. These brought the local community together to discuss money and debt in our current economic system and look for alternatives that may work more in the public’s favour. A feature documentary film ‘Bank Job’ has been a culmination of these conversations and there are plans afoot to continue the work of HSCB in some guise. So watch this space.

Photo by Fabian Blank

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