The coop’s new comic book – image from the Cooperative, via The Guardian

I’ve always been a big supporter of the cooperative ideal – and I’ve been a member of various cooperatives since I was a kid. Nowadays, you can shop in a cooperative supermarket and bank with a cooperative bank – but did you know you could watch a match played by a cooperative football team? (Barcelona FC, apparently – as well as the Green Bay Packers American Football team in the US) Or drink cooperative-produced cranberry juice? (Ocean Spray) In fact, did you know that more people work for cooperatives than for multinationals?

There’s a lot I don’t know about the cooperative movement (I didn’t know there was a Co-Operative political party, for example) and I’m clearly not the only one. To help raise awareness of all that they do, the cooperative movement have turned to art: releasing a comic book and a film about the movement, its history, its ideals and its potential.

2012 is the 168th anniversary for Britain’s Cooperative stores, and there have, over the years, always been plenty of art-based events that celebrate its principles. Back in May, the FutureEverything festival celebrated the “extraordinary artistic and political possibilities” of advances in technology, explicitly linking together art and the political radicalism of the cooperative movement. And Young Cooperatives have been using art competitions to raise awareness of Fair Trade and other cooperative enterprises.

We have a number of small independent shops in Oswestry which stock Fair Trade and other goods produced by cooperatives – Rowanthorn, Honeysuckle, The Gates, and I’m sure there are others. Is there any way we could, under the Art Works banner, help use our art to celebrate and promote awareness in Oswestry?

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