We Can All Be Experts Says A New Documentary Released By The Royal Society of Arts

by Nov 28, 2017

If you are given a voice how are you going to use that voice. Just one of the questions asked in a new documentary by the RSA that challenges social and economic issues. We speak to Patricia Wharton, one of the people who took part in the workshop which aimed to engage ordinary people with economics.

Did you know that 97% of money isn’t real money? Patricia Wharton didn’t and her reactions are one of the highlights of an empowering film about The Royal Society of Art’s (RSA) project The Citizen’s Economic Council which aims to give citizens from Manchester and London a voice in the world of economics.

Patricia is one of four subjects featured in “The Citizen’s’ Story” a new documentary short by award winning filmmaker Paul Wyatt. The film is the latest in a series of RSA films he’s produced including “A Student’s Story” and the well received TV documentary “The Survivor Sofa Story” which had a starring role in the Crafts Council’s film festival in 2016.

We spoke with Patricia Wharton to find out more about the project and the film:

Surely the economy is for economic experts and politicians? Not for the average person?

Before starting this journey I would probably have agreed. In fact I remember telling Paul Wyatt that I thought the economy was as interesting as watching paint dry. Months later I now totally disagree. Citizens are often not engaged and the Citizens’ Economic Council has proven that. If we look at diversity for example, most politicians don’t look like me so how do they know what’s best for me?

How did the line between citizen and expert become blurred?

We met economic experts during the process and of course we think we can’t challenge experts because it’s assumed that would not be the right thing to do. But I found I was able to do just that and say “No I don’t agree with that”. One of the experts was talking about how they had been in international arenas where people said if you don’t put chemicals on food you’re depriving poor people of food. Chemicals apparently make food cheaper because there’s less waste from pests! So the idea is to provide poor food this will of course increase poor health in ‘poor people’ I had to challenge the comment and you’ll have to watch the film to see how that turned out! It’s about having some greater conversation and more debate and actually feeling like you can do that. It’s your right to do that.

What’s changed for Patricia since finding paint drying interesting?

I took the decision to join the Labour party and to look into becoming a councillor. In fact I went to meet Leader of Brent Council Cllr Muhammed Butt and was given the opportunity to do the welcome introductions for Member of Parliament for Brent Central Dawn Buttler’s Pre budget speech. I’ve also had the opportunity to shadow Dawn and to meet with Councillor Margaret McLennan. After the RSA filming project finished Paul Wyatt came back to Brent to film me again in his own time. So perhaps we could do a bigger film with the whole story in it?

I’d love to be involved with something like this again – maybe as a facilitator. Citizen’s Economic Council alumni facilitating – that would be great! I’d like to roll out a similar programme for young people as well. For me it’s important to pass this information onto my own children so they can have the understanding that I didn’t have so they can make informed choices.

Watch the full film below.

With thanks to Patricia & Paul.


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About Natalie Jahangiry

Natalie is half Persian with a Geordie accent. Although small in stature, she makes up for it with a big personality! As a Graphic Designer you will often find Natalie gushing about her passion for all things creative and sharing her ideas with everyone and anyone who will listen. If she’s not decorating her house you will find her cooking up recipes from her foodie family or propped up in a cocktail bar in town.