I loved the exhibition, in fact exhibition is not quite the right word – you’ve created something incredibly inspiring and provoking that is much bigger than the exhibition space. Croydon needs this and I’m looking forward to planning ahead for libraries.

Joan Redding, Libraries Manager, Croydon

We are piloting novel ways to use arts and virtual reality to engage communities and grass roots civil society groups on place based application of system change ideas. Our Croydon System Change Project, brought together over 12 representatives and leaders of local civil society and grass roots action groups in Croydon. This diverse set, reaching across climate action, sustainable living, racial justice, homeless and social justice issues is interacting with an artist in residence we are managing at Turf Projects in a High Street venue in Croydon. After a series of deliberative workshops debating for the first time what system change means for them, taking inspiration from our case study research and expertise in system change, our artist in residence, Meitao Qu, has created an inspiring immersive experience to archive and communicate the key insights, struggles, and ideas for transformative change. This was first exhibited at Museum of Croydon in October and November 2023, and then travelled to South Norwood Library until end of April 2024. The show is part of the official  Borough of Culture programme here. We are grateful to Arts CouncilEngland for supporting this exciting and replicable work.

Borough of Culture Listing of our free exhibition at Museum of Croydon:


How Can London Borough of Culture Pograming Contribute to System Change and Positive Futures?  Read the Impacts and Achievements Summary of our initiative here: Croydon Project Summary Achievements


Creative Citizen Engagement app, utilising a simple card flip game is currently live. It’s  a simple creative tool we created to engage feedback and ideas about systemic change from citizens in peripheral areas of Croydon: 

Visit the project website:


Focus Group Research Findings Report– how locals understand ‘system change’

As one part of what we learned about citizen’s insights, priorities, and how citizens reacted to themes and information in our virtual reality experience, read our Findings Report from the focus group research we conducted in South Norwood, a peripheral area of Croydon with significant economic disadvantage.

“What a great way to see how Croydon COULD be. One day we will get there!”

“A great experience – with innovative ideas”

– Audience members, written feedback at exhibition

Educational Events

  • We were on the guest faculty for Schumacher College’s post graduate short course – ‘Changing the Frame – the art and science of communicating transition’, in 2020 and invited back again in 2021Led by David Holyoake with assistance from our Brighton artist rep, Alex Stuart-Hutcheson. In addition to transmitting learnings about communicating system change and ecologically sustainable futures, on the final day we stepped students through a story boarding process in teams. Applying communications principles, students were encouraged to foreground aspects of alternative economics and decarbonisation to create plausible stories of transformation to new, environmentally sustainable systems with care at their heart.
  • We were approached by the European Economic and Social Committee in 2021 to design creative strategy and arts component for a major online event on climate change and system change. (“YEYS21 – Designing Systemic Change”). Audiences included high schools in the UK, as well as across EU.
  • Facilitation and teaching at University of Brighton School of Media for the (non-course accredited) programme System Change Hive, we ran from February to October in 2019. Delivered by Oxana Lopatina and David Holyoake and external experts.
  • Guest lecture for Schumacher College/Dartington ‘Earth Talks’ series 1 in 2020, about transition narrative post COVID-19, towards alternative systems and environmentally sustainable futures, online live event with Swarms’ David Holyoake. Youtube recording below.
  • Guest speakers for Degrowth Talks (ecological economics) UK creative online webinar in June 2020, also featuring Rob Hopkins (Founder Transition Town movement) and others.

Live art created by artist Sophie Ong. We briefed and placed Sophie as one of 2 live artists during the above online event on climate action and system change organised by the European Economic and Social Committee in March 2021. We tasked her to respond to and capture the ideas and provocations coming in from the young audiences. As a result, the event performed well above average in terms of both audience engagement, and social media sharing.


If you are an organisation seeking our help as creative catalyst to think differently about your environmental campaign strategies, to deliver creative workshops or educational events about communicating rapid transition, or for inspirational guest talks involving creatives, please use the contact form below and address your query to David.


If you are an artist, creative, or change maker generally interested in joining the Swarm collective or finding out more about what we do and would like to do, please fill in the below mail form below and one of our team will get back to you in a week or two. Alternatively, follow and ping us on facebook or twitter.


If you are able to support our unique work embedding the arts within system change and sustainable futures, please help us keep going in the aftermath of COVID19 with a small donation, which you can make securely through our page on the Charities Aid Foundation – please click here