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Mike’s story – Artbomb, Doncaster

Artbomb festival took experimental art to the streets of Doncaster to spark debate about the environment. Organiser Mike Stubbs shares why the climate conversation doesn’t have to be boring:

“It’s bloody hard work organising a festival, but worth it. There are lots of people involved in making it happen… but you don’t want it to coincide with the hottest year on record or a two-day train strike! A lot of my artists couldn’t make it and many local people were at home taking cold showers. It was 35 degrees outside. The fire eater asked me to pour a bucket of cold water on her because she was feeling faint!”

I’d like to think Artbomb stimulated debate.

“Artbomb fed into lots of home-grown talent, younger people picking things up and running with it. We commissioned 14 local artists to make new work, inviting responses to these emergencies of climate crisis.

“With the festivals I’ve instigated such as ArtBomb, Abandon Normal Devices and ROOT, intervention in the public realm has been at the heart. To put it out there in the public space, not a gallery or museum, so the public gets to see it. If you put something in the street, you get a much different audience, and these are the people we want to reach, not only the ones already connected and engaged with this conversation.”

“There are some great projects in Doncaster that I’m chuffed with, like Bentley Urban Farm and Doncaster Creative Network. If we can get one child’s mind to think differently, the world can be done differently, art and performance are great at this.

“We hope to do another festival next year (2024). In the meantime we’re running a spoken word event on Friday 16th June at the Unitarian/ArtBomb Hub along the same environmental theme. I’m also collaborating on a creative litter picking/place making project in Woodlands/Adwick with Cllr Sarah Smizz and other researchers at Sheffield Hallam University.”

We’re a community enabler of the arts.

I have a van called Climate Emergency Services.

“It’s covered in flames and looks like a hot rod. Again to speak to a different audience. I refer to myself as a conflicted petrol head – from a lifetime hooked on fossil fuels. The van is a pretty damn good way at engaging people who are into cars and motorbikes. It interferes with the goings on to stimulate debate often with people who are at odds with environmentalists.

“I’ve always been involved in the arts, as an artist, curator, enabler for most of my life, all over the world. As Creative Director at Doncaster Creates, I led Rewilding the System and Symbiosis, two residency programs which brought together artists with environmental scientists.

“I did a Masters in Environmental Media at the Royal College of Arts about 30 years ago now, which fanned my interest in ecology and in 2018 curated, Strata, Rock, Dust, Stars for York Art Gallery which took the first geological map as its starting point (on display at the museum), by William Smith.

“I’d recommend reading The Map that Changed the World: William Smith (the Birth of Modern Geology) by Simon Winchester and Art as Experience by John Dewey.”

Thank you Mike for sharing your story!

To find out more about Artbomb:

Watch Artbomb the Documentary at

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